Darrell Issa and Elijah Cummings plain don't like each other. Which makes the fact that they are the chairman and ranking member on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform all the more fascinating. (The most high-profile fight between the two came when Issa cut off Cummings's microphone during a hearing.)
The latest battle between the California Republican and the Maryland Democrat came Thursday at a committee hearing centered on whether former IRS official Lois Lerner should be held in contempt for refusing to testify regarding her role in the targeting of conservative groups.
"We are here today for one fundamental reason: To get to the full truth about IRS targeting,” said Issa. “We cannot abandon our responsibility.” (On Wednesday, Issa had accused Cummings of "work[ing] to obstruct" the committee's investigation.")
Cummings, who brandished a Constitution during the hearing, retorted: "I cannot cast a vote that would place me on the same page of the history books as Senator Joseph McCarthy or the House Un-American Activities Committee. And I do not draw that comparison lightly. Today, this committee is trying to do something that even Joe McCarthy could not do in the 1950s -- something virtually unprecedented."
The contempt measure passed the committee on a 21 to 12 straight party-line vote and will now likely proceed to a vote by the full House.