‘Oversight After Dark’: Lawmakers Hurl Insults at Hearing - The World News

‘Oversight After Dark’: Lawmakers Hurl Insults at Hearing

Even by the rock-bottom standards of the 118th Congress, Thursday night’s three-hour voting session of the House Oversight Committee was perhaps a new low. There was shouting and chaos. There were insults about eyelashes, hair dye and body composition. It was behavior that would get most elementary school kids suspended.

The members of the Republican-led committee gathered after 8 p.m. in a Capitol Hill hearing room ready for a fight — some members of the audience were even said to have brought alcoholic beverages to enjoy the show. They had gathered so late because so many Republicans traveled to Manhattan to show support for former President Donald J. Trump at the courthouse where he is on trial on criminal charges involving hush money payments to a porn star.

Back in Washington, lawmakers were ostensibly meeting for the most serious and somber of reasons: to debate whether to hold a cabinet official in contempt of Congress. Republicans were recommending charging Attorney General Merrick B. Garland — an action that the committee chairman, Representative James Comer of Kentucky, proudly touted in a fund-raising appeal earlier in the day — and they would eventually get to that.

But first, it was time for fight club.

Who better to instigate the chaos than Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the right-wing Georgia Republican best known for her penchant for incendiary statements and stunts? Her first target was Representative Jasmine Crockett, the Democrat from Texas who frequently takes on Ms. Greene in the committee.

After an initial back and forth, Ms. Greene went after Ms. Crockett’s appearance, causing all hell to break lose.

“I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading,” Ms. Greene said, mocking her makeup.

“That’s beneath even you, Ms. Greene,” shot back Representative Jamie Raskin of Maryland, the top Democrat on the panel.

The remark prompted Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, the committee’s No. 2 Democrat, to demand that Ms. Greene’s words be “taken down” from the record, an official rebuke that would mean Ms. Greene would be barred from speaking for the rest of the session.

“How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said. (She later said on social media that she had felt compelled to defend Ms. Crockett, who is Black, against “racism and misogyny.”)

“Are your feelings hurt?” Ms. Greene responded.

“Oh baby girl, don’t even play,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez shot back.

After much back and forth, Ms. Greene agreed to have her words stricken from the record, but refused to apologize. “I am not apologizing,” she insisted.

Mr. Comer, who has said in the past that he cannot control Ms. Greene, ultimately refused to enforce the committee’s rules on decorum. The entire scene captured the depths to which the oversight panel has sunk during this Congress, as Republicans have tried without success to build an impeachment case against President Biden, sometimes resorting to tactics that are outrageous even for a committee that has long been among the most combative on Capitol Hill. (Ms. Greene has previously used her perch on the panel to display nude photos of the president’s son engaging in sex acts.)

“The major problem was that we allowed pornography in this committee and we’ve gone down a bad road,” Mr. Raskin complained Thursday night.

Committee members did little to conceal their contempt for one another.

“Why don’t you debate me?” Ms. Greene said to Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

“I think it’s self-evident,” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez replied.

“Yeah, you don’t have enough intelligence,” Ms. Greene said.

That second insult prompted more outrage, with multiple Democrats demanding Ms. Greene retract her remarks.

“That’s two requests to strike!” Ms. Ocasio-Cortez said.

The fighting continued, but Ms. Crockett was not about to allow Ms. Greene’s original insult to go unanswered.

Couching her own jab in a procedural question allowed under committee rules, Ms. Crockett inquired of Mr. Comer: “I’m just curious, just to better understand your ruling: If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody’s bleach-blonde, bad-built, butch body, that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?”

“A what now?” Mr. Comer said.

Frequently, there was so much shouting and cross talk it was impossible to tell who was saying what, and from which direction the insults were being flung.

“I’m just glad the chairs are too big to throw,” one lawmaker could be heard saying amid the cross talk.

Mr. Comer complained of his poor hearing ability and asked the members if they would please consider not shouting over each other.

“I think my body’s pretty good,” Ms. Greene, a CrossFit devotee who often posts videos of herself working out, said at one point.

Representative Jared Moskowitz of Florida, the Democrat on the panel who seems to most relish a partisan brawl, posted gleefully on social media. “Oversight After Dark!”

He then posted a video remixing Ms. Crockett’s insult of Ms. Greene with a hip-hop beat.

“J&J (Jared & Jazz) dropping diss tracks like we Kendrick Lamar… MTG Truly wanted the smoke tonight,” Ms. Crockett replied as she shared the video.

The insults weren’t just limited to Ms. Greene and Ms. Crockett. They flowed freely throughout the night across party lines. Representative Anna Paulina Luna, Republican of Florida, at one point called Representative Dan Goldman, Democrat of New York, a “trust fund kid.” (He is an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune.)

Ms. Greene’s boyfriend, Brian Glenn, the conservative Right Side Broadcasting Network host, defended her honor on social media.

“She’s beautiful, intelligent, and has more class than you’ll ever have,” he wrote, tagging Ms. Crockett and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez.

Only one Republican sided with the Democrats in attempting to silence Ms. Greene: Representative Lauren Boebert of Colorado, herself a rabble-rouser, but one who has little respect for Ms. Greene.

“I just want to apologize to the American people,” said Ms. Boebert, who apologized in September after being captured on video vaping and carrying on with her date in a theater. “When things get as heated as they have, unfortunately, it’s an embarrassment on our body as a whole.”

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