Reporter's Notebook: There’s little chance that lawmakers will kiss – and 'makeup'

The recent rhubarb in the House Oversight Committee revealed one thing:

Divides in Congress are more than cosmetic.

“I think your fake eyelashes are messing up what you’re reading,” chided Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., staring across the room at Rep. Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas.

In Congress, the “ayes” usually have it. But in this case, it was eyelashes.

Greene faced eyelash backlash from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.

“How dare you attack the physical appearance of another person?” charged Ocasio-Cortez.

“Are your feelings hurt?” shot back Greene.

“Oh girl, baby girl. Don’t even play!” cracked Ocasio-Cortez.

The makeup mayhem consumed the House Oversight Committee as it tried to prepare a contempt of Congress citation for Attorney General Merrick Garland.

It put a whole new take on the old Max Factor catchphrase: “Makeup with attitude.”

It’s a good thing the late Rep. Frank Mascara, D-Pa., wasn’t around for this donnybrook.

Look him up, folks.

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House members are generally prohibited from “engaging in personalities” or assigning motive to actions of their colleagues. Despite howls from the Democrats, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., ruled that Greene’s verbal smudge at Crockett was in order.

So Crockett launched a verbal vilification of Greene on her own, seeking clarity about the chairman’s ruling. Yet Crockett artfully insulted Greene while staying within the rules of decorum established by Comer.

“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?” questioned Crockett.

“A what now?” asked a bewildered Comer.

The committee meeting embarrassed lawmakers from both sides.

“We’ve got to get back to a place where we actually get business done,” said Rep. Robert Garcia, D-Calif.

“I don’t think the American people deserved that,” said Rep. Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla.

“It’s getting worse, right?” asked Rep. Jared Moskowitz, D-Fla. “Our enemies are laughing.”

So, for Congress, it was a bad look for the body.

But it’s unclear if that was the House of Representatives? Or a bleach blonde, bad-built, butch body?

Greene has her share of enemies in the House Republican Conference. One of them appears to be Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo. Greene and Boebert stood close to one another at President Biden’s 2022 State of the Union address, hectoring the executive in chief at nearly every syllable. But their alliance frayed over the election of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., in early 2022. Greene stood by McCarthy while Boebert was one of the holdouts. Boebert infamously confronted Greene in the Capitol. Greene eventually called Boebert “a little b—-.”

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It’s unclear if there was any commentary about eyelashes in that exchange.

But Boebert extracted an ounce of revenge on Greene last week. During the parliamentary contretemps in the Oversight Committee, Boebert voted with Democrats on motions to discipline her rival.

Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., the top Democrat on the Oversight panel, characterized this as “the best move of the night.”

It’s also notable that the wild scene in the committee went down after dark. The Oversight panel initially planned the markup session in the morning. But the panel shifted the meeting to the evening since so many Republicans fled to New York to see the off-Broadway production of “The People v. Donald J. Trump.”

By the time everyone hustled back to Washington, Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-N.M., and other Democrats accused some Republicans on the committee of drinking on the job.

“Members were not drinking,” said Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla.

“That’s something that is worth investigating if there was in fact, drinking taking place,” said Raskin. “It was like a frat party atmosphere that was created when they got back from New York from Trump’s trial.”

So maybe they weren’t drinking. But the way things are going now on Capitol Hill, could you blame them if they were?

And by the way, it’s no secret that when congressional sessions or committee hearings drift deep into the night, lawmakers are known to knock back a cocktail or three.

Things are pretty raucous on Capitol Hill these days. Pandemonium practically oozes from the place.

U.S. Capitol Police summoned hazmat units to the Republican National Committee this week after someone mailed vials filled with blood to headquarters.

Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., walked past the entrance to a House hearing with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday. Anti-Israel demonstrators pursued Sherman into an elevator, demanding to know if he was worried about war crimes in Gaza. Colleague Tyler Olson reported that Sherman grew angry and accused one demonstrator of supporting the Houthis.

Another protester outside the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing with Blinken tangled verbally with Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla. The demonstrator wore a white, Palestinian soccer jersey. A Capitol Police officer intervened on Mast’s behalf.

“Out of his way! No. You don’t impede a member of Congress,” hollered the officer.

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Which is true. The Constitution prohibits inhibiting lawmakers in any form when conducting official congressional business.

The officer and protester then delved into a heated exchange.

“That’s a federal offense!” barked the officer.

“He came up to me!” replied the demonstrator.

“I do not care. Do not impede a member of Congress,” admonished the officer.

Mast then walked past and entered the hearing room.

“Somebody check this guy’s badge! You are in danger!” yelled the anti-Israel protesters.

“I will place you under arrest. It will be a federal offense,” countered the officer.

“And I’m going to sue the federal government for false arrest and I’m going to get rich dude,” declared the protester.

Never mind that you can’t sue Congress.

So the protester began insulting the appearance of the officer who walked away.

Rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn., briefly engaged a group of anti-Israel protesters.

“Enjoy your First Amendment,” said Burchett. “You wouldn’t have it in Palestine.”

Protesters might not be able to prevent lawmakers from doing official business – and can say pretty much anything to anyone in a congressional hallway. But even lawmakers don’t have rhetorical carte blanche when it comes to what they can say on the House floor.

Rep. Erin Houchin, R-Ind., demanded the House flag Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., after he spoke about former President Trump.

“Donald Trump might want to be a king. But he is not a king,” said McGovern, the leading Democrat on the Rules Committee. “We have a presumptive nominee for president facing 88 counts.”

After an extensive, behind-the-scenes consultation with the House parliamentarian and a review of precedents, the House ruled that McGovern’s language was a “breach of order.” Rep. Jerry Carl, R-Ala., presided over the House at the time. Carl declared that remarks about Trump were “personally offensive.” The House bars lawmakers from casting personal aspersions on fellow members, senators or the president.

Carl ruled that Trump is “afforded the same privileges as the president” and can thus not be spoken about in such terms on the House floor. Carl added that the House “finds that words are an offensive attack and are stricken from the record.”

The House then barred McGovern from speaking on the floor for the remainder of the day.

“Apparently there are people on the other side of the aisle who want to try to silence Jim McGovern because he waxes the floor with them every time he speaks,” said House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y. “That makes them uncomfortable and they just can’t handle it.”

Congress is an ugly, tense place these days. You can’t put lipstick on a pig. The rifts are deep.

And, there’s little chance that lawmakers will kiss – and “makeup.”

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