Politics

House members comment on Colbert testifying before Congress

Chris Moody Contributor
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Comedy Central personality Stephen Colbert is testifying before the House subcommittee on immigration Friday, an appearance that has some members of Congress flummoxed.

“He’s going to testify like it’s a joke?” asked Tennessee Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen when he heard Colbert was being called as an expert witness for a hearing on farm workers and immigration.“I don’t think he should be there.”

Cohen appeared on The Colbert Report’s “Better Know a District” segment in 2007 and said he was “a big fan of Colbert.”

The saga that brought Colbert to Washington began after a July interview with United Farm Workers (UFW) President Arturo Rodriguez. On the show, Rodriguez announced a program that gives Americans looking for a job the chance to work on farms across the country with mostly migrant laborers. Only a handful of Americans have signed up, including Colbert, who promised to spend a day (with camera crews fully in tow) working in the fields.

In a two-part television series this week, the comedian worked on a New York farm and interviewed California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren, chairman of the House subcommittee on immigration. Yesterday, The Daily Caller reported that Colbert had been asked to testify before the committee, and sources say that he will appear “in character.”

Although a spokeswoman for the House Judiciary Committee insisted that it was “not a TV stunt,” Cohen said he doesn’t buy it.

“It gives one entertainer the opportunity to use the United States Congress committees for his popularity, and I don’t think that’s something we should be using the committees for,” he said.

Rep. Steve King, Iowa Republican and member of the subcommittee, told TheDC that he thinks it shows that some members of Congress don’t take the immigration issue seriously. (King is known for his strong views against illegal immigration.)

“I guess it’s alright for a little levity, but it just tells you the level of seriousness about immigration reform that is coming from the Democrat majority,” King said. “It looks to me like they’re turning it into a joke for the publicity.”

King added that he’s never watched The Colbert Report and “can’t recall a single thing he [Colbert] has said,” but said his appearance sure beats slogging through the doldrums of the pre-midterm session.

“It’s better than naming post offices,” he said.

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