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Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) wants Democrats and Republicans to evenly share the task of reading the Constitution on the House floor Thursday.
The GOP wants to start the day by reading the Constitution aloud in its entirety, which would be a first. The reading will be led by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.).
“It’s absolutely critical that both parties participate equally,” Sherman said Tuesday. “I’m seeking assurance from the Republicans that they will grant equal time. Otherwise the message is reading the Constitution is a symbol which can be twisted or perverted by having 90 percent read by Republicans and 10 percent read by Democrats.”
He wrote a letter in December to Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Majority Leader-designate Eric Cantor (R-Va.) asking to take part in the reading, and a list of Democratic Members interested in participating will be submitted to the Republicans to make the point that “the Constitution is not owned by either party,” Sherman said.
Goodlatte’s spokeswoman, Kathryn Rexrode, said in an e-mail that the reading is “open to all Members and it is going to be on a first come first serve basis.”
But Democrats haven’t been invited to participate, according to Sherman.
“I think we need the assurance that this is going to be roughly a 50-50 effort,” he said, adding that he fears the reading will be set up with only “token” Democratic involvement. “I don’t want to be a token,” he said.
Kathleen Hunter contributed to this report.