As part of their long-running battle over rules restricting amendments to appropriations bills, House Republicans on Thursday forced a nearly one-hour reading of a GOP legislative proposal.
Democrats, however, charged that the maneuver was nothing more than a delaying tactic so that GOP Members could duck out to House Minority Leader John Boehner's (R-Ohio) annual party fundraiser on the Washington, D.C. waterfront.
Democratic aides suggested that the reading of the bill a Republican alternative to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill was timed to benefit the 2009 Boehner Beach Party," the 17th annual bash for the perennially tan leader at the Cantina Marina bar that has typically been one of Boehners highest-profile fundraisers.
The party was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. around the time lawmakers were about to start debating the GOP alternative.
After forcing the clerk to read the GOP bill, Republicans withdrew it and then introduced a new version for debate, annoying House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.).
I simply think that were entitled to ask one question, he said. Why on earth, if were supposed to take this motion seriously, were we requested to listen through the reading of a 55-page amendment, witness it being withdrawn and then have them introduce an amendment which is virtually the same in an identical form?
A spokesman for Boehner said he did not know if the Minority Leader made it to the fundraiser during the lengthy interlude between votes, but he said that wasnt the reason for the maneuver.
"We forced the reading of the [Republican alternative] to protest the un-democratic rules the Democratic leadership is insisting on for the appropriations process, which do not allow Republicans the opportunity to step in the way of their out-of-control spending spree, said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. Boehner will vote on both the [Republican alternative] and final passage."
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