‘Oversight After Dark’: Lawmakers Hurl Insults at Hearing

‘Oversight After Dark’: Lawmakers Hurl Insults at Hearing

Even by the rock-bottom standards of the 118th Congress, Thursday night’s three-hour House Oversight Committee voting session may have been a new low. There was screaming and chaos. There were insults about eyelashes, hair dye and body composition. It was behavior that got most elementary school kids suspended.

Members of the Republican-led committee gathered in a Capitol Hill hearing room after 8 p.m., ready for a fight – some spectators were even said to have brought alcoholic drinks to enjoy the show. They had gathered so late because so many Republicans had traveled to Manhattan to show their support for former President Donald J. Trump at the courthouse where he is on trial on a criminal charge involving hush money payments to a porn star.

Back in Washington, lawmakers met ostensibly for the gravest and darkest of reasons: to discuss whether a Cabinet official should be held in contempt of Congress. Republicans were recommending an indictment of Attorney General Merrick B. Garland – a measure that the committee’s chairman, Rep. James Comer of Kentucky, had proudly touted in a fundraising appeal earlier in the day – and they would eventually get around to it.

But first it was time for Fight Club.

Who better to instigate the chaos than Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the right-wing Republican from Georgia best known for her penchant for inflammatory statements and stunts? Her first target was Rep. Jasmine Crockett, the Texas Democrat who frequently faces off against Ms. Greene on the committee.

After an initial back and forth, Ms. Greene followed up on Ms. Crockett’s appearance, causing a stir.

“I think your false eyelashes are confusing what you’re reading,” Ms. Greene said, mocking her makeup.

“That’s even between you, Ms. Greene,” replied Rep. Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel.

The remark prompted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the committee’s second-ranking Democrat, to demand that Ms. Greene’s words be “stricken” from the record, an official rebuke that would mean Ms. Greene is no longer eligible she is allowed to speak for the rest of the meeting.

“How dare you attack another person’s physical appearance?” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. (She later said on social media that she felt compelled to defend Ms. Crockett, who is Black, against “racism and misogyny.”)

“Are your feelings hurt?” Ms. Greene replied.

“Oh baby, don’t even play,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez shot back.

After much back and forth, Ms. Greene agreed to have her words struck from the record, but refused to apologize. “I’m not apologizing,” she insisted.

Mr. Comer, who had said in the past that he could not control Ms. Greene, ultimately refused to enforce the committee’s rules of etiquette. The entire scene showed how low the Oversight Board has sunk during this Congress, as Republicans tried unsuccessfully to build an impeachment case against President Biden, sometimes resorting to tactics that were outrageous even for a body that has long been one of the largest are combative on Capitol Hill. (Ms. Greene has previously used her spot on the panel to show nude photos of the president’s son engaging in sexual acts.)

“The main problem was that we allowed pornography in this committee and we went down a bad path,” Mr. Raskin complained Thursday night.

The committee members did little to hide their mutual contempt.

“Why don’t you debate me?” Ms. Greene said to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

“I think that goes without saying,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez responded.

“Yes, you don’t have enough intelligence,” Ms. Greene said.

This second insult sparked even more outrage, with several Democrats demanding that Ms. Greene retract her comments.

“That’s two strike calls!” said Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

The fighting continued, but Ms. Crockett would not allow Ms. Greene’s original insult to go unanswered.

Ms. Crockett made her own dig at a procedural question allowed under the committee’s rules, asking Mr. Comer: “I’m just curious, just to better understand your decision: if someone on this committee starts talking about someone’s blonde-blonde, Poorly built, fleshy body, that wouldn’t take into account personalities, right?”

“Now what?” Mr. Comer said.

Often there was so much shouting and persuading that it was impossible to tell who was saying what or where the insults were coming from.

“I’m just glad the chairs are too big to throw away,” one lawmaker was heard saying in the middle of the conversation.

Mr Comer complained about his poor hearing and asked members if they would please consider not shouting at each other.

“I think my body is pretty good,” said Ms. Greene, a CrossFit devotee who often posts videos of herself working out.

Rep. Jared Moskowitz of Florida, the Democrat on the panel who seems to enjoy a partisan brawl the most, posted cheerfully on social media. “Watch after dark!”

He then released a video in which he remixed Ms. Crockett’s insult to Ms. Greene with a hip-hop beat.

“J&J (Jared & Jazz) releases diss tracks like we do Kendrick Lamar… MTG really wanted to smoke tonight,” Ms. Crockett responded as she shared the video.

The insults were not limited to Ms. Greene and Ms. Crockett. They streamed freely across party lines throughout the night. Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, Republican of Florida, once called Rep. Dan Goldman, Democrat of New York, a “trust fund kid.” (He is an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune.)

Ms. Greene’s friend, Brian Glenn, the conservative host of the Right Side Broadcasting Network, defended her honor on social media.

“She is beautiful, intelligent and more classy than ever,” he wrote, tagging Ms. Crockett and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

Only one Republican sided with Democrats in trying to silence Ms. Greene: Rep. Lauren Boebert of Colorado, herself an agitator but who has little respect for Ms. Greene.

“I just want to apologize to the American people,” said Ms. Boebert, who apologized in September after she was caught on video continuing her date at a theater. “Unfortunately, when things get that hot, it’s an embarrassment to our entire bodies.”

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2024-05-17 15:59:44