Congress-watchers cannot recall another incident in which a committee chairman silenced a ranking member by turning off the member’s microphone — but it happened Wednesday when GOP Rep. Darrell Issa of California, chair of the House Oversight Committee, cut off the microphone as Rep. Elijah Cummings, a Democrat from Maryland, was speaking.
But when the time came for apologies, in today’s topsy-turvy tea party world, it was Issa who claimed to have been insulted.
“He owes me an apology,” Issa said after the hearing, referring to ranking member Elijah Cummings of Maryland. “I think he should be dealt with by his leadership. You know the conduct of the House…. We’d dismissed the only witness and his conduct was inappropriate and rather shocking.”
But after Democrats floated a resolution that called on Issa to be sanctioned for his “offensive and disrespectful manner” as he silenced Cummings, Issa at first relented and called Cummings to apologized — but he also went on Fox News where he refused to use the “a” word and characterized Cummings’ reaction to be silenced as a “hissy fit.”:
During a Fox News interview Thursday evening, Issa showed no remorse, ridiculing Cummings for his outburst.
“Do you apologize to Congressman Cummings?” asked Megyn Kelly.
“You know, I broke no rules and he broke the decorum of the House,” Issa said. “I did things according to the rules. I followed a script, and then Mr. Cummings decides to have quite a hissy fit.”
This was not the first time Issa has characterized Cummings, who is black, in infantalizing terms. At a hearing last summer, Issa said, “I’m always shocked when the ranking member seems to want to say, like a little boy whose hand has been caught in a cookie jar, ‘What hand? What cookie?’ I’ve never said [the bogus IRS “scandal”] leads to the White House.” Issa later clarified his remarks but did never actually apologized to Cummings for the slur.
Issa, who represents a safe GOP district in San Diego County adjacent to the Marine’s Camp Pendleton and who has been ranked the wealthiest member of Congress, made his money by marketing Viper car alarms. In his youth, he was charged with grand theft auto three times and indicted twice, and during his early career he was suspected of arson.