Republicans Feel Locked Out Again — Literally This Time

Posted October 20, 2009 at 5:33pm

Updated: 7:36 p.m.House Republicans have complained all year that Democrats have locked them out of the legislative process. On Tuesday, those complaints took a turn from figurative to literal.A spokesman for House Oversight and Government Reform ranking member Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said Democrats changed the lock on the door from the GOP’s meeting room to the main committee chamber, and informed Republicans that Democrats would retain the only set of keys. Republicans say the move was retaliation for a behind-the-scenes video they shot that showed committee Democrats leaving their meeting room through a back door 30 minutes after they canceled a hearing that the majority said conflicted with Members’ schedules. Before that hearing was terminated early, Issa was scheduled to call for a vote on whether the committee should issue a subpoena for records and documents relating to the Countrywide Financial VIP mortgage program. Democratic Sens. Chris Dodd (Conn.) and Kent Conrad (N.D.) obtained mortgages from the program, prompting Issa and other Republicans to question whether Dodd and Conrad obtained below-market rates because of their positions. However, the Senate Ethics Committee cleared both lawmakers in the matter. “It’s not surprising that they would choose to retaliate given the embarrassment we caused by catching them in a lie on tape,— Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella said. “If only they would use their creative energy to do some actual oversight rather than resorting to immature tactics. But I guess we’re getting some insight into what lengths they’ll go to avoid addressing the Countrywide VIP issue — I’m actually embarrassed for them right now.—Jenny Thalheimer Rosenberg, a spokeswoman for Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.), acknowledged the move was retaliatory. Towns said it was done “because they don’t know how to behave,— according to Rosenberg. Issa and Towns have had an increasingly frayed relationship over the committee’s response to the Countrywide loan scandal.Tory Newmyer contributed to this story.