The House on Tuesday observed a moment of silence for victims of the Brussels attacks, but not before dispensing with the usual mix of parochial and partisan pronouncements.
As the chamber met at 10 a.m. for Morning Hour, when members speak on a variety of topics, Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., was first to speak. "I look with increasing horror along with the growing number of other Americans at the great and bitter division that is taking place in our politics," he began, quoting former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey. He then pivoted to the chamber's workload. "With Congress back in town for just three days before a 2 1/2-week break, all anyone wants to know is if -- not even when -- we might get some real work accomplished for the American people," he continued.
Quigley was followed by Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., who wished well "the Rotary Club of Key West, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this April." He added congratulations to a sixth-grader headed to the national spelling bee and praised an upcoming conference on climate change hosted by the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.
At noon, when the House convened for legislative business, the guest chaplain, Rabbi John Linder of Temple Solel in Paradise Valley, Ariz., offered solace for Brussels.
"God of all people and all understanding, give us strength and reason during these perilous times. Bring consolation to the bereaved in Belgium. Be with our public servants here as they represent these great United States. Collectively, brothers and sisters, you are a tapestry of America, a beautiful quilt of diversity. The best of who we can be," Linder said.
After the Pledge of Allegiance, Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., rose to thank Linder.
Then Speaker Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., turned the ship of the House back to partisan waters, bringing out the most disagreeable of subjects, Obamacare. He did so by touting his support for the Little Sisters of the Poor, whose challenge to the Affordable Care Act will be heard Wednesday at the Supreme Court.
"I had the honor of hosting two of the sisters at the State of the Union address this January, and I was amazed to hear all the good work that they do. So the last thing the federal government should do is make their jobs harder, but that, unfortunately, is exactly what this administration is doing," he said, returning the chamber to its previously scheduled program.
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