Three Democrats walked out of a House Oversight and Government Reform hearing on religious liberty and the birth control rule on Thursday to protest Chairman Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) refusal to allow a progressive woman to testify in favor of the Obama administration’s contraception rule. The morning panel at the hearing consisted exclusively of men from conservative religious organizations.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), told reporters in the hallway outside the hearing that she marched out because it was being conducted like an “autocratic regime.” The other members who left were Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Mike Quigley (D-Ill.).
There are 10 witnesses testifying at Thursday’s hearing. None of those individuals — listed as testifying prior to hearing — are in favor of the Obama administration’s birth control rule, and few are women.
Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, was listed as a witness for the hearing, but Simon Brown, a spokesman for Americans United, told The Huffington Post that Lynn will not be testifying. (He will, however, be submitting written testimony to the committee.)
Democrats say they tried to invite another witness — a young woman — to testify, but were blocked by Republicans.
Issa said at the hearing that he rejected the Democrats’ female witness, Sandra Fluke, because, as a Georgetown University law student who “appears to have become energized over this issue,” she was “not appropriate or qualified.” He said that in lieu of allowing her to speak at the hearing, he instructed his staff to post a video online of Fluke speaking at a previous press conference.
The Huffington Post, “House Democrats Walk Out of One-Sided Hearing on Contraception, Calling It an ‘Autocratic Regime.”
So much for this.