House Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon prides himself on running a bipartisan committee. But the Tennessee Democrat, who is retiring this year, caught several people off guard a few weeks ago when he closed out his final hearing by turning the gavel over to the panels ranking member.Committee members applauded the 13-term lawmaker for his years of service at the end of a Sept. 29 hearing, a video of which is posted on the committees website. And in his final action as chairman, Gordon invited ranking member Ralph Hall (R-Texas) to take his seat.Now Id like to turn the gavel over to Mr. Hall, Gordon said as he rose from his chair. Hall took over.The move was awkward, to say the least, according to one Democratic source who witnessed the exchange. Committee member Rep. Brian Baird (D-Wash.) called out Gordon for the larger message he sent with his action: that he thinks Republicans will win the House in the November elections and control the committees next year.Thats a bit premature, Mr. Chairman, Baird said from the panel.During his few minutes in the chairmans seat, Hall told the committee, I hope Im the chairman almost a year from now. He praised Gordons bipartisanship and then gaveled out.Were adjourned, Hall said.
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.