Earlier today, the House Judiciary Committee held another hearing on the renewal of the PATRIOT Act. This meeting was requested by the Democratic minority under House rules, as they were prevented in previous meetings from calling their own witnesses to offer testimony on PATRIOT provisions.
After two hours of cutting witnesses off in mid-sentence and in some cases preventing them from answering questions, Rep. Sensenbrenner (R-WI) unilaterally gaveled the hearing to a close. House rules do not allow any committee chair to gavel a minority hearing without either a motion to adjourn or a call for unanimous consent. Sensenbrenner gave a short diatribe attacking the witnesses and their testimony, then gaveled the hearing and left the room, taking the Republicans with him.
The Democratic members and witnesses continued discussion for almost 10 minutes, despite the chairman’s attempts to have the microphones shut off. According to Rep. Nadler (D-NY), he also attempted to force the official reporter to stop recording the events of the hearing for the record.
This isn’t the first time Sensenbrenner’s pulled this kind of stuff: he snuck the “Real ID” provision into a military appropriations bill, which sets standards for state driver’s licenses that in effect create a national ID, and he rewrote a Democratic amendment to a bill in an attempt to slander Democrats.
Shame on you, Rep. Sensenbrenner, for showing such contempt for democracy. Attempting to stifle debate because you don’t agree with what’s being said is unAmerican and undemocratic.
Video is available at http://www.c-span.org/ by clicking on “House Hearing on Patriot Act Reauthorization.”