Opinion: ‘This is why the American people have thrown you out of power:’ Rep. Steve Buyer


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In case anyone thought the ongoing lame duck session of Congress would be absent political confrontations, here’s Exhibit A for Not.

A little video clip courtesy of a feed from the national treasure C-SPAN from Monday’s session of a nearly-deserted House of Representatives. (Scroll down for video after reading.)

Come January, the legislative chamber will be run by the new old Speaker John Boehner, presiding over the GOP majority bulked up by 63 new R’s elected to Dem seats during Nov. 2’s midterm elections.


Ohioan Boehner has promised a new openness in running the chamber where all financial legislation originates. We heard those kinds of promises two Januarys ago when Democrats took over D.C..

But for now the House is still run by Nancy Pelosi’s depressed Democrats and her designees.

Monday, the presiding speaker was California’s Democratic Rep. Laura Richardson.

When Indiana Republican Rep. Steve Buyer sought recognition to speak for....

...five minutes about some pending veterans legislation, she said no. He revised his request to one minute. Looking confused and taking verbal directions from someone off-camera, Richardson again denied the request.

Buyer persisted, growing outraged that one sitting representative was highhandedly refusing to recognize another, even for one minute. ‘This is why,’ Buyer declared, ‘the American people have thrown you out of power.’

Richardson confers again with someone unseen. This, not incidentally, is the kind of government coverage of the legislature that C-SPAN seeks to reform. The television cameras in the House are run strictly by the House, with focus on the person speaking and nothing else.

Thus there are, for instance, no reaction shots during debates, no full House panoramas showing the usually vacant chamber and, when a recess is called, coverage concludes. No shots of schmoozing like C-SPAN cameras so fruitfully collect on the campaign trail


C-SPAN, as we reported right here on Nov. 18, has formally asked Boehner in the interests of openness to allow the cable channel’s independent cameras in for the new Congress. Any independent video coverage Monday, for instance, would have pulled back to reveal the unelected person or persons guiding Richardson and could have shown a twin-shot of Buyer seeking to get the chair’s attention while Richardson ignored him.

A C-SPAN spokesman said Monday no reply has yet been received from Boehner or his transition team.

After Buyer is finally permitted to speak on this video, there is a short gap before Richardson is told to call a recess. Keep watching the bottom of the screen then for an entertaining gesture of exasperation by Buyer, who leaves his seat to walk by where he knows the main House camera is pointing.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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