Saturday morning, I sat down with my coffee and newspaper to watch the House debate healthcare reform on C-SPAN. And no, I don’t normally spend my Saturday mornings watching C-SPAN, but in light of Sacalait Killa’s recent admission on my Guilty Pleasures post that he DVRs British Parliament sessions, I don’t know if any of you are in a position to judge.
Now, I’ve never seen an episode of Jon and Kate Plus 8, but I assume that a show about two immature spouses who can’t get along and their eight attention-starved children is probably pretty similar to what I saw on the House Floor Saturday morning.
Members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus had lined up to give short blurbs about the ways this healthcare bill benefits women in their states and their objections to the legislation’s restrictions on abortion coverage, and the Republicans did everything they could to rudely and boisterously censor these women’s speeches.
It sounded like this: “I ask OBJECTION for unanimous OBJECTION! consent to revise and EXCUSE ME, I OBJECT! I OBJECT! I OBJECT!…” and so on. Here’s a clip so you can see for yourself:
Poor 83-year old Congressman Dingell, whose life work has been healthcare reform, was given the “great honor” of presiding over this debacle. I couldn’t tell if he was standing or sitting for most of the debate, but it was clear that he was one “Objection!” away from aggressively poking each and every Republican Congressperson in the face with his cane. I’m surprised his gavel didn’t split in two, he had to hammer it down so many times and ask the Republicans to grow up and stop disrupting the class.
Democratic Congresswomen are understandably outraged at the the way they were treated by the GOP men, even after Rep. Dingell repeatedly assured the Republicans that they would have an opportunity to speak if they would just let the women finish. Rep. Mary Jo Kilroy (D-OH) told ThinkProgress on Monday:
“…male members of Congress got up and started shouting down — trying to shout down the Democratic women. I thought it was loud, I thought it was rude, I thought it was disrespectful, and I thought it was sexist. […]”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schulz (D-FL) issued a similar statement about the 90% male GOP, saying,
“This is a party that doesn’t respect women, a party that doesn’t believe women are equal to men. I don’t think they attract women to their party. I think they repulse women.”
I wonder what those GOP Congressmen are so afraid of, why they so desperately felt the need to censor these women? They already knew which way they were going to vote, regardless of what the women said in their 30-second blurbs. I’m quite sure they would not have been so inflamed and disruptive had men been trying to speak. Those Congresswomen were raising some really important issues about what this healthcare bill means for millions of women across the country, and the GOP not only refused to listen, but took pains to ensure that no one else heard them either. The women in these Congressmen’s districts should be especially outraged at their elected “representatives” for showing a complete lack of respect for and interest in women’s health issues; I know I would be.
On the bright side, two good things came out of Saturday’s debate– the healthcare bill passed in the House (a baby-step in the right direction), and Animal Planet has purchased all future House debates from CSPAN. They will be airing right after Meerkat Manor on Fridays at 10 pm e/p, so gear up for a dramatic new season!