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Debate Over Mikulski at Chesapeake Hearing

The fourth-floor hearing room in the Dirksen Senate building held a standing-room-only crowd. The Environment and Public Works Committee was starting a hearing today on global warming's threat to the Chesapeake Bay. Governors Martin O'Malley(D) and Timothy Kaine (D-Va), Sens. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md) and James Webb (D-Va) and Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R) were seated before the three committee members, preparing to give testimony.

But Senator James M. Inhofe, the ranking Republican, was not happy. Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-California) had invited Mikulski to join the senators on the dais after giving her testimony. Inhofe objected. "It's unprecedented," he said.

Mikulski, who believes climate change is a serious threat, chairs a subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee that funds a large number of federal science agencies. Inhofe is among the most fervant skeptics about climate change.

Boxer came quickly to Mikulski's rescue, calling Inhofe's less-than-collegial objection "an absolute outrage."

So did incredulous Democrats in the room, including Webb and Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (Md), a committee member. Webb and Cardin noted that Senate committees have a hard time getting their own members to show up for hearings, let alone other interested senators.

Inhofe finally relented, inviting Mikulski to the dais but calling the move "an exception." Then he left for a meeting with President Bush.

By Lisa Rein  |  September 26, 2007; 2:06 PM ET
Categories:  Lisa Rein  
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Comments

So he objects to someone coming up.......and then leaves? Dweeb.

Posted by: EricS | September 26, 2007 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Mikulski is against global warming which means she is against coal-fired plants. She is opposed to a natural gas facility in Southern Maryland. She is against nuclear power. And of course she is against electricity rate hikes. Where does she think electricity comes from--rubbing two sticks together? She needs to explain her Maryland energy policy. What is she FOR that will produce more inexpensive electricity?

Posted by: Mikulski lacks energy | September 26, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

I can't answer where Babs thinks all that electricity comes from which fires the deep fat friers at Dunkin Donuts which she's so fond of but I do know what the Post is thinking here. Since Inhofe "left for a meeting with President Bush" he must be on the wrong side of this and every other issue.

Don't let your hatred for Bush spill over into the Maryland Moment.

Posted by: BG from PG | September 27, 2007 10:08 PM | Report abuse

Mikulski has consistently proven she's smart, tough and has integrity. Inhofe has consitently proven he's dim, spiteful, and will be one of the president's last loyal lapdogs. What is this idiot so afraid of? If he's a man, he should not have a problem with Milulski providing testimony. This has nothing to do with anyone's hatred of the Bush administration. This has to do with America and how it is managed or mis-managed. In the end, it sounds like Inhofe had no credible argument against Webb and Cardin's commentary. In shame, Inhofe storms out of the place to go "meet with the president"? Does anyone in Congress still want it known that they meet with Bush? Re-election suicide.

Posted by: Donny | September 28, 2007 8:10 AM | Report abuse

Democrats love Barbara Mikulski because she maintains the Washington status quo. And then you guys have the nerve to call yourselves "progressive".

Posted by: Jeff | September 28, 2007 6:04 PM | Report abuse

So Mikulski is better than other Senators? What a partisan sham. Thanks Ben Cardin for proving you guys all have a silver spoon in your mouths. Tell us peons when it's our turn to speak.

Posted by: Bryan | September 28, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Bryan, I agree we all have the right to speak and you are making Mikulski's point. Inhofe wanted to deny Mikulski's right to speak...Webb and Cardin spoke in her favor. Inhofe was called out in public for trying to deny Mikulski her right.

Posted by: Donny | September 28, 2007 10:34 PM | Report abuse

This MD Moment blurb does everyone a disservice by failing to adequately explain Inhofe's objection, and it appears that many folks are confused. Sen. Inhofe did not object to Sen. Mikulski testifying (and therefore wasn't trying to deprive her of freedom of speech), and it was not clear that Sen. Inhofe would have objected to her sitting with the Committee for the hearing (we'll never know as that was not the case here). What he seems to object too is her doing *both* in the same hearing - having her cake and eating it too, if you will. She gets to testify, then turn around and question the other panel members like any other Senator. That would seem to be a significant departure from the usual order of business. If nothing else, it puts her in a superior position to both her fellow Senators and her fellow panel members. Taken in that light, is Sen. Inhofe's objection really so unreasonable? Perhaps that customs and procedures of the Senate should mean something (and yes, I'm sure many have felt that Republicans have bruised the rules, but two wrongs . . .).

BG from PG also has a point about the skew - did any Democrat senators leave early? From the hearings I've seen/heard on C-SPAN, Senators are frequently in and out of hearings, I presume for legitimate purposes. Highlighting Sen. Inhofe's departure is a (not so) subtle form of editorializing on his motives.

Posted by: MD Voter | September 29, 2007 12:36 AM | Report abuse

MD Voter:

I agree and good job for offering an unbiased account of the hearing. Thanks to the likes of Lisa Rein and the Post in general, it's becoming very hard to see the truth through their kaleidoscope.

Donny, I'm convinced that you're on the MD Democratic Party payroll. I don't think anyone could be so far removed from reality as your posts seem to be.

Posted by: BG from PG | September 29, 2007 2:13 PM | Report abuse

BG, I admire your exercising the right to accuse. While I am a Democrat...I'm a contributer...not a receiver. However, you point out something we should ALL be suspicious of...the power of money injected into our political system and our "news" media. I'm sure we disagree on this, but I think the GOP and big business are the worst culprits. Thus far, I've heard no reasonable argument for Inhofe's strange actions...and apparently he had no support in the Senate either. What is this guy afraid Mikulski will say? He objected, but he had no rule nor procedure to back his objection up...plain and simple. I am open to listen, though, if a more concrete explanation is presesnted. Again...hold on to your suspicions, BG.

Posted by: Donny | September 30, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Testifying before the Committee and then sitting on the panel and questioning other members is, as Inhofe put it, "unprecendented". It doesn't get any more concrete than that.

Speaking of questionable money injected into our political system, how many contribution solicitations has the MD Democratic party sent you in the mail in the last month in preparation for the upcoming special session? How convenient for O'Malley and the rest of the scum bags in Annapolis to get around fundraising laws. Since you've said time and time again that you wouldn't mind higher taxes, while you're at it you could write a few checks to the Comptroller. Your money could get put to use by the State straight away rather than going to the MD Demonrats who want working families to shoulder their burdens.

Posted by: BG from PG | September 30, 2007 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, no one likes taxes....then again no one enjoys paying the check in a restaurant...but no one eats for free. The GOP had their chance...adn O'Malley was elected over Erlich. Its over...the meal is over and now we all have to pay the bill. Let's check the bill for errors, pay it and move on with the mission at hand. Also, just because Inhofe says something is "unprecendented" means absolutely nothing and still speaks to no rule nor procedure. If the man is correct, I doubt he would have stomped out of the session without any support from his fellows. Agree to disagree. Thanks.

Posted by: Donny | September 30, 2007 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Donny, my explanation wasn't reasonable? I saw nothing in the story that stated that he didn't cite rules, procedures or customs - it was pretty silent on that fact (either way). So what is unreasonable? If Sen. M is allowed to testify and participate as a Senator, would it have been appropriate for Sen. Inhofe to also be granted the right to testify after he's done with his questions? Who needs expert testimony if we can just have Senators testifying to each other?

As for big money, yeah, Dems and Repubs are sure different, 'cause it isn't like George Soros (of Move-On.Org) has any money, and and folks like Sean Penn, Brad Pitt, and their Hollywood piers are all paupers, and Hillary hasn't raised one dime of corporate money, and O'Malley didn't just return $100K of illegal donations from a movie producer (or did he?) - clearly, only the Republicans get big money support, right?

Posted by: MDVoter | September 30, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Donny, you're correct. No one enjoys paying the tab at a restaurant...for someone else's meal. I don't mind, however, paying for my own-which I do each time I make a purchase to the tune of 5%. If you want to be fleeced an additional 1-2%, that's your problem. If this were to be put on the next ballot for a referrendum, it would go down in flames.

By the way, don't pretend for one second that Mikulski and Cardin don't have as much special interest money flowing through their coffers as anyone in Washington. As long as they're in office, corporate and special interest money will be what makes the decisions in Washington. Not the voices of the people that put them in office.

Posted by: BG from PG | September 30, 2007 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Donny, if you are not a "receiver." then why don't you comment in your real name? I think you and Free Donny are on the Democratic payroll.

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