Sunday, November 08, 2009

"I Didn't Read the Bill!" Confesses Louise Slaughter, Powerful House Democrat

At post-victory celebration, a committee chair's revealing slip-of-the-tongue.

by Glenn M. Heller
Sunday, November 8, 2009, 3:22 A.M.

(Reported here as witnessed first-person by the author just hours ago.)

To uproarious laughter and gleeful applause, Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, D-NY, powerful chairwoman of the House Rules Committee, candidly admitted to a packed, post-victory, closed-door gathering of fellow Democrats that, in fact, she had not actually read H.R. 3962, the 1990-page health care bill her party managed to pass tonight in a close vote in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Louise M. Slaughter, D-NY, powerful House Rules Committee Chairwoman.
Photo Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images North America.
Photo taken August 11, 2009.

Ms. Slaughter, who represents New York's 28th Congressional District and voted 'Aye' on the legislation, made her startling admission in the middle of a lengthy toast she was giving to those lucky enough to be packed wall-to-wall partying inside H-208, the House Ways and Means Committee conference room, located just yards off the House floor where less than an hour earlier the hard-fought bill had passed 220-215.

On the room's long conference table was arrayed food and punch for the post-victory revelers, and Ms. Slaughter raised her cup in a crowd-pleasing speech as she savored her party's victory.

In the middle of that oration, and comfortable amongst those she knew to be friends, she paused for just an instant, almost as if she knew she shouldn't say that which she was about to say, and then blurted out, "I confess, I didn't read the bill!"

The crowd roared, a gleeful appreciation by cohorts at the apparent frankness of the respected chairlady's remark.

Other Democrat committee chairs present during Ms. Slaughter's eye-opening revelation included Charles B. Rangel, D-NY, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Henry A. Waxman, D-CA, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Both men, especially Mr. Rangel, appeared bowled-over with laughter at Ms. Slaughter's sudden and unexpected declaration.

Democrats are hailing the legislation calling it landmark, while Republicans are warning that if signed into law, the Affordable Health Care for America Act could become the most expensive single piece of legislation in U.S. history, and could result in dramatic increases in the authority and power of the federal government to intrude into private lives and personal health care decisions. <<<

(Backstory: The author was present in the House Gallery during the vote on H.R. 3962 and stayed afterwards to watch as the House completed 'housekeeping' matters and the session was finally gaveled to a close by James Moran (D-VA). Exiting the House Gallery, and on a whim, author headed down the main staircase to the second floor where Congressmen were exiting the House chamber. Then, following others to the main corridor and then through a door, author entered a large ante-room. It was here that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and various House managers were already in the midst of a crowded post-vote press conference with TV cameras, soundmen and print reporters. Upon completion of that self-congratulatory photo-op, some of the House managers stayed behind for one-on-one interviews, including Henry Waxman (D-CA). Author stuck around to observe. When his one-on-ones finally wound up, Mr. Waxman along with his middle-aged female aide headed for the exit. Author followed just steps behind. Mr. Waxman and the aide went back through the door to the main corridor, turned left and headed straight for H-208, the door to the House Ways and Means Committee conference room. Even from down the hall one could hear loud sounds and raucus laughter emanating from this room. Plainly, a joyous gathering was in progress within. Mr. Waxman opened the door just enough to squeeze in, followed by his aide, followed closely by the 'gate-crashing' author. [Though Capitol Police were stationed throughout the corrider, who questions what seems to be a cohesive little group walking into a conference room, especially when the one in the lead is a House committee chairman?] Just to get into that packed room, though, required the three of us to shoehorn our way forward so the heavy door could close behind. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) was already addressing the crowd with her hand raised in a toast when the three of 'us' arrived. Author's location when witnessing Ms. Slaughter's 'confession' was not six feet away from where she was standing. Unfortunately, not long thereafter, author was 'discovered' and questioned by an unidentified middle-aged female staffer, at which point author was quietly asked to leave the gathering. Author exited the conference room back into the main corridor, where he was quickly 'carded' by Capitol Police who requested ID, since according to the officers, after the House gavel falls on a late-night session, the Capitol Building officially closes to the public 30 minutes later [Who knew?], and it was now long past that deadline. Anyway, while waiting there in the corridor for Capitol Police to complete the process of checking ID, author, who was still standing in front of the committee room door, had opportunity to meet and shake hands with Members of Congress as they individually exited the victory celebration, including Ms. Slaughter and Charles Rangel (D-NY). What a hoot!)

The above article © Copyright 2009 Glenn M. Heller

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