Democrat Eric Stewart charged Friday that U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., is showing “complete disregard” to citizens in the 4th Congressional District by refusing to debate him while presiding over a mostly empty U.S. House in Washington, D.C.
In a news release, Stewart describes the congressman’s tenure at the podium as a “power-trip of having a gavel for one day and slamming it down and preventing his colleagues from talking.”
Further from Andy Sher:
He said DesJarlais, who is from Jasper, Tenn., went to Washington “because he doesn’t want to listen to the concerns from people in his district that are not happy about his votes to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 and his votes against giving our military a pay raise.”
DesJarlais was on a flight out of Washington late Friday afternoon and unavailable for comment.
But in a column this week, DesJarlais said the House session keeps President Barack Obama from making recess appointments without congressional consent.
He created a stir Friday during the session when he silenced two Democratic House members who wanted to complain about a “do-nothing Congress” and inaction on a major farm bill, The National Journal reported.
Presiding over the session, DesJarlais slammed his gavel, a sign to shut off the C-SPAN signal. That prompted protests from Democrats and shouts about the nation’s “fiscal cliff” and the farm bill, the publication reported.
According to The National Journal, DesJarlais walked off, leaving Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, shouting about the fiscal cliff and the farm bill.
“We’re about to go over a cliff. We need to stay in session,” Cummings said from the floor. “Mr. Speaker, please don’t leave. Don’t leave, Mr. Speaker.”
In response to DesJarlais’ actions, Stewart said, “today we learned that it’s not just voters in the district, he won’t even listen to his colleagues in Congress that wanted to speak about the issues facing our farmers.”
…The House is out until after the Nov. 6 election, but members can hold a session at which no formal business is conducted.
DesJarlais said in a statement that, if the two Democrats “were really serious about working on these issues,” they should contact Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “and ask them to return to Washington to consider the 30 House-passed jobs bills languishing in the Senate rather than engage in political theater.”
Note: An Eric Stewart press release that touches on the matter is below.
News release from Eric Stewart campaign:
Winchester, Tenn.- When Congressman Scott DesJarlais was given the gavel of the U.S. House of Representatives today and allowed to preside over the chamber during a pro forma session, he displayed a demeanor of disrespect to his colleagues and a complete disregard towards farmers across the country that are fed up with a Do-Nothing Congress.
DesJarlais chose to spend a week in Washington presiding over a pro-forma session of Congress rather than attending any debates in Tennessee. While presiding over the pro-forma session of Congress on Friday, DesJarlais slammed down his gavel and prevented Reps. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., and Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas from being able to speak and express their concerns about the farm bill and impending fiscal cliff.
In responding to DesJarlais’s power-trip of having a gavel for one day and slamming it down and preventing his colleagues from talking, Rep. Hinojosa said he couldn’t believe that DesJarlais wouldn’t even let him talk about farm issues. “I couldn’t believe he wouldn’t recognize me and let me speak on the issue of our farmers. Because it’s not just my state, it’s throughout the whole country,” Hinojosa said.
The “Do-Nothing-Congress” that DesJarlais has said he’s proud to be a part of is not likely to find any support among farmers across the country. This year, farmers faced one of the worst droughts in history and they are fed up with the inability of Congress to pass a farm bill. On March 29, 2012, DesJarlais betrayed farmers in Tennessee when he voted to cut $60 billion from the Department of Agriculture. (H.Con.Res. 112). He showed yet again today that he’s not interested in listening to or addressing any agriculture issues when he slammed down the gavel and prevented even a conversation about the farm bill from occurring.
“The Congressman decided to go to Washington for a week because he doesn’t want to listen to the concerns from people in his district that are not happy about his votes to raise the Social Security retirement age to 70 and his votes against giving our military a pay raise,” said State Sen. Eric Stewart, who is running for Congress against DesJarlais. “Today we learned that it’s not just voters in the district, he won’t even listen to his colleagues in Congress that wanted to speak about the issues facing our farmers,” Stewart said.
DesJarlais chose to spend a week in Washington presiding over pro-forma sessions of Congress rather than accepting invitations from the Southern Standard, GCTV and Cleveland State Community College to have a debate against Stewart.
DesJarlais leaped at the opportunity to spend time in Washington and avoid debates, but it also meant that he had to cancel and renege on the commitments that he had made to the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce. DesJarlais was scheduled to speak during the chamber’s “Power Lunch” scheduled on Oct. 11th. The chamber has since had to cancel the event and reimburse money to people that purchased tickets under the belief that DesJarlais would actually attend.
“The people of Rutherford County, as well as every county in the 4th Congressional district, need a Congressman that will keep his promises no matter if they are to events he agrees to attend or the promises we have made to our seniors, veterans and college students. Since moving here from South Dakota, I guess Dr. DesJarlais hasn’t learned that around here we keep our promises,” Stewart said.