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House Republicans held their first hearing to grill the creators behind the Healthcare.gov website on Thursday.

Having discovered a genuine, verifiable problem with the president’s signature legislative accomplishment — the site just doesn’t work as designed — Republicans seized the opportunity to focus on nonsense.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) split hairs over an HTML comment that was mistakenly left inside the code and has no bearing on the functionality of the site.

“You know it’s not HIPAA-compliant,” Barton said to Sheryl Campbell, the senior vice president at CGI Federal, the chief contractor behind the site. “Admit it! You’re under oath!”

The congressman was referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects the privacy of patients’ medical records.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) defended Campbell by pointing out a key aspect of the Affordable Care Act — it bans the concept of pre-existing conditions. Thus medical history is irrelevant and not part of any application.

“So once again, here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody—” Pallone said.

When Barton tried to get Pallone to yield back the floor, the congressman from New Jersey said, ” No, I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever this thing is.”

“This is not a monkey court,” Barton responded.

We’ll leave it to PolitiFact to rule on this controversy.

Joe Pallone Monkey Court

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