August 4th, 2007
11:20 AM ET
12 years ago

House erupts into shouting match

WASHINGTON (CNN) - A day of frayed nerves and hard feelings in the House erupted into a shouting match Friday night, after the chamber's top Republican went to the floor with a resolution charging that Rep. John Murtha, D-Pa., violated House ethics rules earlier in the day while presiding over a normally routine vote.

As the House clerk read the resolution from House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, accusing Murtha of bringing "dishonor and discredit" to the House by making remarks of a "partisan hue" while sitting in the speaker's chair, Democrats began to groan and boo.

Then, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., leapt to his feet, getting the attention of the lawmaker presiding over the session, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Calif.

"Madame speaker, enough is enough," Hoyer thundered, as the chamber erupted. He immediately moved to table Boehner's motion, a parliamentary maneuver that normally cuts off debate and puts the matter to a vote.

Boehner objected, trying to raise a point of order with the chair. As Tauscher tried to ignore him and move forward with the vote on the motion, the Republican leader began shouting, "parliamentary inquiry, parliamentary inquiry" and slammed his palm on the lectern, as the din in the House grew ever louder.

Tauscher eventually agreed to hear Boehner out, at which point the Republican leader suggested that Hoyer, with his "enough is enough" comment, had already engaged in debate, which Boehner said meant his resolution about Murtha had to be debated.

Tauscher rebuffed Boehner and moved ahead with the vote on tabling the resolution, drawing more shouts from the Republican side of the House.

Murtha had angered Republicans earlier Friday evening during a vote on approving the journal, a normally routine procedure where lawmakers OK the record of the proceedings of the previous day.

But Thursday night, Republicans had walked out of the House after a disputed vote on a GOP motion to send an agricultural spending bill back to committee, and they decided to vote against approving the journal in protest.

With few Democrats in the chamber, Republicans were poised to defeat the journal - until Murtha granted a request for an electronically recorded vote, which summoned Democrats back to the chamber.

Republican Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin objected, saying not enough Democrats had been on the floor to meet the requirement for triggering a recorded vote. Murtha rebuffed his complaints in an increasingly contentious exchange, at one point insisting his ruling was "not subject to question."

In the end, the journal was approved 216-199, on a largely party-line vote.

Murtha, a close ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is a veteran lawmaker who broke with the White House on the Iraq war in late 2005 and became one of the most high-profile critics of Bush administration policy.

Once all the shouting had stopped, the House approved Hoyer's motion to table Boehner's motion on a vote of 211-178. Members then voted to adjourn until Saturday morning.

Filed under: House
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Myron, Honolulu, HI

    Republicans are just a bunch of political terrorists, if they can't win they only try to disrupt like a gang of spoiled brat–what a bunch of corruption and crap these Republicans bring to America.

    August 4, 2007 11:11 pm at 11:11 pm |
  2. Alyssa Rayne

    I only wish that it hadn't taken the Democratic Party this long to show some backbone. If they'd put up a fight earlier, we might not be in such a mess right now.

    August 5, 2007 04:43 am at 4:43 am |
  3. Ron, Charlottesvile VA

    Gee, John, Murtha's rules? Since you have difficulty reading (like your president), it was Steny Hoyer who said "...enough is enough," and I don't think it was Murtha who had the comment removed.

    Nice try. Best of luck to your party in 2008 (ha-ha).

    August 5, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. Jon, Sacramento ~ CA

    Ron ~ CHarlottesville, VA

    "Your President" .... and here I thought he was the President of the United States. Or are you so bitter Ron you can't even admit Bush it THE President – yours, mine, the entire country?

    If Murtha didn't amend the Hoyer tantrum – who did? Oh – nevermind – I guess it really doesn't matter the House is arbitrarily changing the minutes, right?

    August 5, 2007 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  5. Melinda, Texas

    There are many good points and comments on this blog. I'm just wondering if the elected officials actually take the time to read them. It would be helpful to everyone if they did, they would probably learn that we are fed up with ALL of them! I agree a change is needed, but the dems don't have enough of a majority to get the job done this term, maybe next term they will. We need to understand that the "do nothing" dems are being put there by the "we must be afraid, very afraid" repubs. As far as following the rules, both parties are to blame. It's just that now the shoe is on the other foot and the dems learned a thing or two from all the years of repubs running the show.

    August 6, 2007 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  6. Daniel. Boca Raton, FL

    I'm not sure you all have read the story fully. the sqable was over a protest of the Journal, disrupting the business of congress, don't tell me this is something that is routine, and all because they were mad over the Agricultural bill passed earlier. So they try to railroad the process, Murtha does not allow them by requesting an electronic vote. so let me get this right, that action by Murtha represents "dishonor" and "discredit". Petty and slander...
    let them shout, that doesn't bother me, calling Mr. Murtha a "dishonor" you need more than a dirty manuever to get a way with it... Good on the Dems...

    August 6, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  7. Mike, HI

    “Your President” …. and here I thought he was the President of the United States. Or are you so bitter Ron you can’t even admit Bush it THE President – yours, mine, the entire country?

    To be fair, Bush seems to only see himself as President of the Republicans of America. He doesn't care much about the other half.

    August 7, 2007 06:25 am at 6:25 am |
  8. DMW, Roeland Park, KS

    Hehehe...the republicans can not stand the heat when they are the ones being shut down.

    The message: be careful what you do to others, it may come back to haunt you.

    The republicans are getting a test of their own medicine and how they discounted everything the Democrats tried to do over the last few years.

    August 7, 2007 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  9. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Mike ~ Hi,

    How does the President only represent one-half a country?

    – Did tax-relief ONLY go to Republicans? (Considering the wealth in Hollywood I would suggest more left-leaning Americans benefited than conservatives)

    – Is the President deploying on democrat soldiers in Iraq?

    – Does foreign aid go only to conservative Africans and conservative Palestinians?

    If the argument is the President pursues a "conservative" agenda – WHAT President doesn't guide policy and nominations which support their underlying political platform?

    John Edwards thinks American isn't doing enough for the "poor". He'll raise taxes to pay for Universal Healthcare, more welfare-based programs, and likely free haircuts for all impoverished. Would HE (if elected) only represent half the country?

    August 7, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
1 2