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Friday, December 9, 2016

By Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON—The House Republican majority shot down a Democratic effort Thursday to condemn Rep. Darrell Issa, chairman of the House oversight committee, for the “disrespectful manner” in which he adjourned a hearing as the panel’s top Democrat was speaking.

Wednesday’s hearing heightened partisan tensions in the Capitol and revived a debate on whether Issa, the Obama administration’s chief antagonist in Congress, has been working to root out government wrongdoing or pushing a partisan agenda.

Democrats criticized Issa (R-CA) for turning off the microphone of Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD) during a hearing in which a former Internal Revenue Service official invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to testify about the agency’s alleged targeting of conservative groups.

Issa tried to question Lois Lerner anyway, without success. After Issa banged the gavel to adjourn the hearing, Cummings asked to speak.

“Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I have a statement. I have a procedural question, Mr. Chairman,” Cummings said. “Mr. Chairman, you cannot run a committee like this. … We’re better than that as a country. We’re better than that as a committee.”

Issa said Cummings could ask his question.

But after Cummings began to speak, Issa said: “We’re adjourned. Close it down,” and signaled the GOP staff, with his hand across his neck, to turn off the microphone.

On Thursday, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) introduced a resolution assailing Issa for his “abusive behavior,” accusing him of violating House rules that require members to “behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House.”

The Republican majority tabled the resolution on a party-line vote.

Fudge, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, also sent a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH) calling on him to remove Issa as chairman of the oversight panel.

Boehner said Issa was “within his rights to adjourn the hearing when he did.”

“He’s done an effective job as chairman, and I support him,” Boehner said at his weekly news conference.