Hoekstra, Reyes Clash Over Intel Bill

Posted July 16, 2008 at 4:15pm

The House was temporarily stuck in limbo Wednesday afternoon after House Intelligence ranking member Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.) charged Chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas) with inappropriately using the word “betrayal” in characterizing GOP procedural tactics aimed at slowing passage of the intelligence authorization bill.

Reyes was responding with frustration to a GOP motion to recommit the bill to make changes “promptly” instead of “forthwith,” the difference being that a prompt referral could drag out action on the bill for up to nine more legislative days. A forthwith request would make the proposed changes immediately.

Reyes said he could agree to the motion with the word “forthwith,” but Hoekstra declined to make the change and further requested that Democratic leaders put energy bills on the House calendar that allowed votes for, among other things, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve.

The attempt to stall the intelligence bill is “a betrayal of the work that is being done by the intelligence community that are putting their lives on the line to keep us safe,” Reyes charged.

Moments later, Hoestra suggested that the use of the word “betrayal” was inappropriate and moved that Reyes’ words be “taken down,” a procedural action that, if sustained, would result in Reyes being barred from speaking for the rest of the day without permission.

After about 15 minutes of quiet on the House floor, the clerk reread Reyes’ comments from the transcript and the floor chairman ruled that they were “not directed in such a way to constitute a personality conflict or otherwise transgress the bounds of decorum in debate.”

The ruling drew applause from the chamber, a predictable response given the boos heard after Hoekstra sought to have the words taken down.