Schroeder And McInnis Prove That Chivalry's Dead.
Housekeeping can get pretty messy, particularly when Congress is down to the wire debating budget bills. During last Thursday's discussion of debt limits, two Colorado representatives got unusually down and dirty.
The fight started after a Democrat from Ohio yielded two minutes of time to Congresswoman Pat Schroeder--and Congressman Scott McInnis took offense.
"Mr. Speaker," Schroeder began, "I want to point out again, this is forty days after the homework was due. The fiscal year ended forty days ago, and only 12 percent of the budget has been dealt with. So here we are with the debt extension, and now members are adding all sort of things to it and saying the President has to have a budget.
"Mr. Speaker, how can this side of the aisle yell that, when they cannot get a budget? They are still trying to get a budget, because they cannot get the two Houses together. This is really all about show business, and how tragic...
"Mr. Speaker, we hear all this stuff about the Department of Commerce and why do we need it? We need it for the same reason all of our allies we are competing with in the global marketplace have one...If every Western industrialized country has business recognized at their cabinet level, can my colleagues believe we would say no, we do not need this anymore? How are we going to create jobs for the American people?...Why are we not having debates on this? Why are they shoving it into bills and then shoving it to the President's desk and playing this High Noon? Here we are: It is John Wayne. Mr. Speaker, this should not be John Wayne. This is the full faith and credit of the government. Nobody has played so fast and loose with it, and we should not, either. Vote no."
At that, McInnis took the floor: "Mr. Speaker, the gentlewoman from Colorado, my colleague, talks about show and tell. How much cooperation has the gentlewoman given us on this budget? How many balanced budgets has the gentlewoman voted for during her career? Not very many, if we take a look at it.
"Mr. Speaker, if the gentlewoman wants to talk about what is going to help business in this country, it is not the Department of Commerce. They do not help my little business in Colorado, or small business in the gentlewoman's district in Colorado..."
Mrs. Schroeder: "Mr. Speaker, would the gentleman yield?"
Mr. McInnis: "Mr. Speaker, no. I will not yield on my time. I do not have enough time remaining."
Ultimately, Schroeder's fellow Democrat yielded the congresswoman thirty seconds: "Mr. Speaker, I am glad chivalry is alive in Ohio, anyway. It does not seem to be in Colorado...I just want to say that all the people that have written to me from Colorado about the Department of Commerce have been small businesses. They claim that big business does not need the Department of Commerce...I also would like to set the record straight that I have voted for many a balanced budget and I have helped draft some, and I resent very much the gentleman from Colorado taking my name and pointing those things out and not yielding back...I thank the gentleman from Ohio. All chivalry is not dead."
McInnis then took back the floor: "Mr. Speaker, the gentlewoman from Colorado, my colleague, resents the fact that I have the courage to stand up and debate with her? Sometimes people will not stand up to the gentlewoman. Mr. Speaker, it is about time some of the facts of the gentlewoman be called to order."
At that, Schroeder tried and failed to regain the floor. On Friday, however, her office declared her the two-to-one winner--on budget votes, if not Thursday's debate. Since McInnis was elected, the House has held sixteen budget-resolution votes. Schroeder voted yes on eight and no on eight. McInnis voted yes on four and no on twelve, including all five budget resolutions--two of them proposed by his own party--in 1993, his first year in the House.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Westword's biggest stories.