The debate in the House Judiciary Committee has dissolved into a personal confrontation involving Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) against Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa).
As the hearing dragged on, King tweeted, “We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Sheila Jackson Lee has so bored me that I’m killing time by surfing the Internet.”
A staffer apparently pointed the tweet out to Lee, and she called for King to apologize to the whole committee. He was not present when she called his tweet “offensive.”
“I have never known Mr. King to have a multitasking capacity,” Jackson Lee said.
But Lee’s rebuke drew the ire of Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), who called her out of order. House Judiciary Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) tried to move on by getting her to agree to have the word “offensive” stricken from the Congressional record.
“I am not taking [the remarks] down,” Jackson Lee said. “You can break this hearing so I am not.”
But after some deliberation with Smith, Jackson Lee agreed to have her comments changed to “impolitic” and “unkind.”
The effect of the sideshow has been to delay the axctual debate over the legislation, with more than 60 amendments in the wait to be introduce. Opponents of the legislation, led by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), have called for a delay and an additional hearing with technical experts, and others have called for a meeting with national security officials to gtet their take on whether the bill would have an impact on defense.
But Smith said that he has “every intention of moving forward today, tomorrow, however long this takes.”