I’m not seeing video at Hot Air or anywhere else on this yet, but CNN’s got the teaser at the top of their page with a java link to the video.
The temporary extension on an update to the bill is expected to expire tomorrow, unless the House acts in concert with the Senate. The NYT is hopeful that it will expires.
Update: CNN’s brief note at the top of their page made it appear this walkout was over the FISA bill. MSNBC is saying it was something else:
Republicans are outraged. Democrats are putting forward a resolution holding White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers in contempt of Congress. House GOP rank-and-file are planning a dramatic walk out when the vote is called.
Democrats are affronted. Right in the middle of the Statuary Hall service for the late Tom Lantos, a Republican went to the floor — just steps from the solemn proceedings — and called a procedural vote, apparently out of pique.
The full House will vote on the contempt resolution. It is likely to pass. The resolution directs the speaker to refer the case to the Department of Justice. DoJ would then have to decide for itself whether to pursue the case.
The vote is expected at around 1 p.m.
The controversy involves the firing of federal prosecutors and the refusal by White House officials to comply with congressional requests for documents and testimony.
The president is pressing also. He has a news conference called for 1 p.m. The FISA law is about to expire. Another temporary extension just failed to pass the House yesterday. Republicans are whispering about the possibility of another dramatic gesture, this time from the president himself.
Stay tuned …
Update 2: Both the contempt resolutions and the FISA dispute are what made the Republicans revolt this afternoon:
The House has approved criminal and civil contempt resolutions against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House counsel Harriet Miers for failing to respond to subpoenas from the House Judiciary Committee. The vote was 223-32, as Republicans walked out of the chamber to protest the vote and the Democrats’ failure to take up the Senate-passed revision to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
The Crypt blog has more on the House GOP vote calling during the Lantos memorial, as well as the war of words this afternoon between the Prez and House Dems.
Re: The vote-calling:
During what was supposed to be a somber memorial service in Statuary Hall for Rep. Tom Lantos, who died Monday, the House chamber became mired in chaos over procedural votes.
Democrats angrily denounced the GOP as insensitive for calling a “motion to adjourn” — essentially a dilatory tactic — while dignitaries were still giving tributes to Lantos, a Holocaust survivor who was chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. But Republican aides shot back quickly, saying it was Democrats who broke an agreement to keep the House in recess during the memorial service.
To some extent, it appears both sides are at fault, but the recriminations have been fast and furious.
“The disrespect that has been shown by a Republican member of Congress in calling a political procedural motion during the memorial service for the late Chairman Tom Lantos is incomprehensible,” said Stacey Bernards, a spokeswoman for House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.). “It is unjustifiable, and Republican leaders should restrict their members from further such action.”
A senior Republican aide, however, said the GOP was given no choice in asking for a vote because Democrats broke their commitment to keep the House in recess during the memorial service. Democrats are pushing a contempt vote against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former Bush counsel Harriet Miers, and have bypassed traditional rules allowing an hour of debate on the matter, according to Jo Maney, a spokeswoman for Republicans on the House Rules Committee.
On the walk-out, and Bush’s comments to Congress to Congress:
Moments after President Bush threatened to delay his weekend trip to Africa and force Congress to act before key intelligence programs expire, House Republicans staged a walkout to protest Democratic inaction on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Frustrated Republicans streamed out of the Capitol and onto the east steps of the Capitol, a powerful act aimed at stopping House floor proceedings and forcing a vote on the FISA bill.
Bush says expiration of some of the spy programs will hurt national security.
“Failure to act would harm our ability to monitor new terrorist activities, and could reopen dangerous gaps in our intelligence,” President Bush said in an afternoon press conference.
More, via AP:
“There is really no excuse for letting this critical legislation expire,” Bush said, his second statement on the bill at the White House in two days.
Bush said that “it would be a mistake” if Congress allowed the law to expire. “Members of Congress knew all along that this deadline was approaching. They set it themselves. They’ve had more than six months to discuss and deliberate. And now they must act.”
He denied claims that the issue had turned into a political game.
“I certainly hope not,” Bush said. “I can assure you that al-Qaida in their planning isn’t thinking about politics, they are thinking about hurting the American people again.”
“I guess you got to come to the conclusion that there’s a threat to America, or not a threat,” Bush said. “I mean, evidently, some people just don’t feel that sense of urgency. I do. And the reason I do is I firmly believe that there are still people out there who would do us harm.”
And the Dem spin begins: “Republicans disrupt Lantos memorial service” and “To Protect White House, GOP Disrupts Congressman’s Memorial Service.”
Update 3: Here’s video of the GOP walkout.
David Freddoso has more:
Yesterday, the Senate voted to reauthorize the FISA bill with a veto-proof majority. The President wants to sign the legislation before it expires on Saturday.
But House Democrats did not have time to pass the Senate bill, because they faced the crucial and time-sensitive matter of voting on contempt charges against White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten and former White House Counsel Harriet Miers.
This is why the walkout took place. Republicans say they were not avoiding the contempt vote so much as they were upset that the House has time for that but no time to reauthorize a bill that is widely supported on a bi-partisan basis in Congress and by the public, and which must be reauthorized before Congress leaves. “The walkout still would have happened,” said one staffer. “Our message was that it’s interesting that you guys are willing to stay in town to play this useless political game, but you won’t renew the FISA bill, which has serious implications for national security.”
Re: The scheduling conflict with the Lantos memorial:
Tensions were already unnecessarily high today because of an earlier scheduling snafu — just a simple error, apparently in the Speaker’s office. Under a bipartisan agreement, the House was not to come into session until after the Tom Lantos memorial service. But the service ran long, and the session was gavelled in anyway. The first item up for consideration was a Republican motion to adjourn. At first, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-Md.) office believed at first that this had been the Republicans’ fault. Later on, that misunderstanding was cleared up and explained on the floor. Someone just messed up, no ill will intended.
Will the FISA bill be allowed to expire over the Presidents’ Day work period? It’s all in the hands of the House Democratic leadership right now.
That’s not a very comforting thought.