No, we're not talking about racial minority or even religious minority. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post writes today on how Republicans -- before the new Congress even comes into session -- are complaining about a bill that was pushed aside and totally ignored and was never passed when they were in power. The legislation, now wanted by Republicans and then authored by Democrats, would have given new rights to the minority in the House and presumably the Senate as well to combat abuses suffered by Democrats over the past number of years.
It has been said that outgoing House Speaker Hastert wouldn't even respond to letters and correspondence sent to him by Pelosi simply discussing the bill, and that attempts to move it forward were essentially pointless. This bill would represent steps to do away with the abuses that kept it from even being considered as a law in the first place, and Republicans swept it under the rug when they had the opportunity to do something about it. Perhaps they enjoyed the power just a little too much, or maybe they never thought they'd be punished into the minority so soon -- or ever again.
Regardless, it is Republicans who are left holding the bill, the one written verbatim by Nancy Pelosi, demanding that the new majority take the steps they never could when they were in charge, and pass the Minority Bill of Rights.
The day began when House Republican Conference Chairman Adam Putnam (Fla.) led fellow House GOP leaders to a news conference in a Capitol basement hall. At 32, he is a year older than McHenry, and several inches taller, but no less outraged by Democrats' refusal to bestow on Republicans the rights that Republicans refused to bestow on Democrats.
"We are disappointed," protested Putnam, whose fair skin was covered with a layer of makeup. "We're clearly disappointed," seconded Roy Blunt (Mo.). "I'm disappointed, as are some others," added Kay Granger (Tex.). "I am very disappointed," concurred David Dreier (Calif.).
It isn't like Republicans weren't asked over and over before the November 7th elections which saw them universally stripped of power in Congress about how their new leaders would suffer them, given their past rough treatment of Democrats. Would they forget being shut out of committee meetings, having their microphones turned off, and turned away at every single attempt at compromise, even when it was in everyone's best interests to work together?
Republicans must have known they'd have some explaining to do, because they scheduled back-to-back news conferences on their minority rights. As soon as Putnam's session ended, Granger took the elevator up three flights and joined McHenry and his cohort in the TV gallery.
Granger had not updated her talking points. "It's very disappointing," she said.
Further disappointment came when the first questioner elicited the confession that none of the lawmakers had previously sympathized with Pelosi's plea for minority rights. McHenry unfurled excuses: "We were not in Congress. . . . I didn't have the opportunity. . . . She did not put it in legislative form." It had all the makings of a PR debacle.
For the record, I'm disappointed that Democrats are going to shut out Republicans in the first 100-hour schedule. Even though our party was put back in charge of Congress precisely to move that schedule forward, if we shut the other guys out no matter what our reason may be, we will be no better than they were. On the other hand, I don't mind seeing Republicans getting some of their own medicine. They ought to be thrilled that they were never able to strip the minority of the right to filibuster judicial confirmations, for they would have lost that ability this very day. Republicans made this meal, now let them eat it for a while, then we can get back to the peoples business.