Rhode Island: The smallest state with a b-i-g problem in Washington

CA Congressman Darrell Issa wrote this evening on Twitter:

I wish this didn’t happen at the markup tonight

and then provided a link to the article below to explain his “tweet”:

Rep. Kennedy Repeatedly Says ‘Bigotry’ Behind Democratic and GOP Support for Amendments to Protect Defense of Marriage Act, Prohibit Benefits for Illegal Aliens

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Controversial Comments at OGR Mark-up Come as GOP Amendments Gain Bipartisan Support

WASHINGTON, DC – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Republicans won bipartisan support tonight for separate amendments to protect the Defense of Marriage Act and to use E-Verify to prevent Federal Employee Health Benefits from going to illegal aliens. The amendments to H.R. 2517, the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act which would entitle domestic same-sex partners of Federal employees to Federal benefits paid for by taxpayers, were each defeated by votes of 15-20. Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL), and Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH) joined 12 Republicans in supporting the two amendments.

The support of Democrats and Republicans for these two amendments apparently didn’t sit well with Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), who repeatedly cited “bigotry” as the underlying motivation:

“This issue is being brought up for the same reason the Defense of Marriage issue was brought up: to play on bigotry. We’re targeting and playing upon the prejudice against immigrants now … If you don’t think this is about bigotry because of sexual orientation, if you don’t think is bigotry based upon race, and if you don’t think this is bigotry on immigration, then you guys just – I’m sorry, I’ve underestimated your political prowess.”

At the mark-up, Rep. Issa called for Rep. Kennedy’s words to be taken down but later withdrew his request to allow the mark-up to continue.

“Ensuring that Federal benefits don’t go to illegal aliens and protecting the rights of states to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman are common sense ideas that have the support of the American people and both Democrats and Republicans here in Congress,” said Rep. Issa following the mark-up. “Rep. Kennedy’s comments to the contrary about his colleagues were offensive and regrettable.”

The amendment to protect the Defense of Marriage Act was a modification of an amendment put forward by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).

The amendment to require the use of E-Verify for domestic partner benefits was offered by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA).

Copies of the amendments that won bipartisan support are attached here.

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