“I said, ‘Well, Tip, why don’t you take the matter to the Caucus, we’ll see what they say about that,’” Dingell recalled. Nowadays, that probably wouldn’t fly.
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), whom Dingell said he counts as a friend, introduced new ways of attacking the majority.
“You had Gingrich going out to get Wright, which he did. He succeeded. And that caused more ill will. And Gingrich came in and he just ran roughshod over the rights of the minority.
“The minority is important, I don’t care whether it’s Democrats or Republicans. In my view, every Member around here is supposed to be equal.”
What about the Republicans, who were in the House minority for 40 years before Gingrich? Some of them argue that the Democratic reign was no idyllic era.
“We treated them with every dignity. When I ran committees, I always sought Republicans. If I was running an investigation, I sought Republicans,” Dingell said. “I don’t want to hear any bullshit about how bad the minority was treated when I used to be chairman.”
How does Dingell know it’s really gotten worse, that he’s not romanticizing the past?
“No, that’s hooey,” he said. “If you talked to scholars … they’ll tell you we have the most extraordinary system of government in the world. The trouble is, we don’t seem to have people in it who want to make it work.”
After nearly an hour in the interview, Dingell leaves to vote.
In the Speaker’s Lobby, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) is explaining to reporters how the nine-bill appropriations package has been held up because of disagreements on another mammoth, multiple-piece bill that extends the payroll tax cut.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.