An angry Rep. Anthiony Weiner explodes at GOP
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) exploded in anger on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday, and his tirade has gone viral since then. At the time of this writing, the numerous videos of it on You Tube have accumulated 700,000 views.
So why all the interest? Is it because people are passionate about politics, or is it because Americans just like to watch a good fight? The answer is both.
Ever since Barack Obama became President, Congress has become more dysfunctional than it has been in recent history. While there has always been heated political debate, partisan opposition, and even obstructionist tactics used by both parties in Congress, the Republican Party has elevated their obstructionism to a new level not seen for decades, choosing gridlock as their only answer in the face of resounding defeat in the 2008 general election.
As the public debate on the most important issues of our day have become more heated, stoked by a systematic, no-holds-barred anti-Obama campaign on the part of FOXNews, Right-wing political groups, and lobbyists, tempers have flared both in and out of Congress. On Thursday, Rep Weiner popped his cork over the defeat of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, a popular bill that would set aside money to pay the health care costs for first responders to the 9/11 attacks in New York City. Many of the brave men and women are still dealing with respiratory ailments caused by the dust and debris that filled the air on that terrible day and the horrible days that followed. Some of those brave souls undoubtedly reside in his Weiner's own Congressional district in Queens and Brooklyn, NY, which made it personal.
The bill is a popular bill with 115 co-sponsors in the House, including 15 Republicans. Sounds like a slam dunk for passage, right? Not in this Congress.
Republicans decided to take this popular bill for the benefit of the true heroes of 9/11, and turn it into a "poison pill" for the Democrats by adding an amendment that would prevent any first responders who were illegal immigrants from collecting any of the health benefits in the bill. Nobody really knows or cares if any of the 9/11 first responders were illegal immigrants, though it seems an unlikely scenario since most government agencies tend to be fairly comprehensive in their hiring of police officers, firefighters and EMT's, but supposedly it could be possible.
The reason for the "poison pill" tactic was that the amendment would be used as a GOP talking point in the upcoming mid-term elections, and the "poison pill" amendment would set up a lose-lose situation for the Democrats. Getting Democrats to vote in favor of benefits for any potential illegal immigrants would anger voters in conservative districts, and voting against it would anger Hispanics, a key Democratic constituency.
From an obstructionist point of view it was a brilliant move by the GOP, and in essence put the Dems in checkmate. From the viewpoint of helping the heroes of 9/11, it was a dirty trick that sealed the defeat of the bill. The Democrats responded by employing a procedure which would preclude any further amendments, but by doing so, it forced them to win by a two-thirds majority for the bill to pass. Checkmate, game over.
The Zadroga Act failed passage by 35 votes shy of the two-thirds majority. That was when Rep. Weiner popped his cork and shouted down his cowardly but shrewd Republican colleagues who tried to interrupt his speech at the podium.
Yes, we all love to watch a good fight, but not when it takes your eye off the ball. This political football game the Republicans have played since day one of the Obama Administration is bad for the country and in this case, bad for the families who are still living through the hell of the worst terrorist act on American soil in history. Whether or not the Liz and Dick Cheney's of the world will admit it, it was an act of terrorism that happened on their watch and at least they owe it to the families touched by this tragedy the courtesy to stop their partisanship pouting and do what's right.
Rep. Weiner had every right to explode, because those men and women who worked through the most horrendous conditions and tragedy imaginable deserve better than being caught in the middle of pure and simple politics.
Photo credit: Captured from publicly shared video