The Congressional Black Caucus has asked House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to remove Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee after Wednesday’s IRS hearing at which Issa cut off the microphone of Ranking Member Elijah Cummings (D-Md.).
Caucus chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) also called on Boehner to make Issa publicly apologize to Cummings. Issa called Cummings on Thursday night to privately apologize.
Issa ordered that the microphones be turned off after pressing former IRS official Lois Lerner, who took the Fifth, to answer questions. Cummings wanted to deliver a statement, but Issa refused, saying the hearing was adjourned. “I am a member of the Congress of the United States of America,” Cummings said. “I am tired of this. You cannot conduct a one-sided investigation.”
“Congressman Darrell Issa of California abused his authority and therefore must be reprimanded to ensure the dignity of the House of Representatives is preserved,” Fudge wrote. “On behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus and the people we represent, I urge you to take immediate action to address the recent deplorable conduct of Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa.”
Fudge said the CBC wants Boehner to “take immediate action to address the recent deplorable conduct” of Issa.
“Under the applicable Rules of the House, we strongly encourage you to take disciplinary action against Mr. Issa and force him to present himself before the American people on the House floor with an apology,” she wrote. “Under Rule 9, questions of the privileges of the House are those that affect its rights collectively, its dignity and the integrity of its proceedings. Additionally, according to Rule 23, a member of the House shall behave at all times in a manner that reflects creditably on the House, and shall adhere to the spirit and letter of said Rules, including those established by committees.”
“Mr. Issa not only violated House Rules 9 and 23, he also violated the rules of the committee he chairs. According to Oversight & Government Reform Committee Rule 9 and House Rule 11, each member is allowed five minutes to question a witness during a Congressional hearing. Mr. Issa blatantly disregarded this rule when he adjourned the hearing and denied committee members the opportunity to speak in the middle of the customary five minutes afforded to Ranking Member Cummings. Mr. Issa is a disgrace and should not be allowed to continue in a leadership role.”
The CBC demanded that Boehner “maintain the integrity of this body and remove Mr. Issa as chair of the Oversight & Government Reform Committee immediately.”
Boehner, so far, has been unmoved by the hearing fallout. “From what I understand, I think Mr. Issa was within his rights to adjourn the hearing when he did,” he told reporters on the Hill on Thursday.
Cummings did the media rounds yesterday to complain about Issa’s behavior, as well. After Issa’s call, he issued a statement.
“This evening, Chairman Issa telephoned me and apologized for his conduct, and I accepted his apology,” Cummings said. “My sincere hope is that as we move forward, we will respect the opinions of all members of the committee, we will proceed in a deliberate and considered manner to obtain the facts, we will refrain from making accusations that have no basis in fact, and we will seek resolution rather than unnecessary conflict.”