A meeting between House Democrats and health entitlement beneficiaries got off to an awkward start Tuesday.
As the House began debate on the GOP health-reform repeal law, Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer held a meeting in the Capitol Visitors Center featuring those who say they benefit from the law’s changes.
But the event was not without missteps for the newly-minted minority leaders, as Pelosi, Hoyer and Rep. Henry Cuellar all three fumbled with their microphones (and sometimes with their new titles.) The event was dubbed a “hearing,” but technically was not one because the majority controls committees and hearings.
“Let me see if I can turn this on,” Pelosi said. “Do you know how to turn this on?” she asked into the working microphone before realizing it was on already.
She then introduced Rep. Steny Hoyer as Leader Hoyer, a title he bore when Democrats were still in the majority. She corrected herself quickly, calling him “House Democratic Whip” before turning over the event to Hoyer.
Hoyer had his own problems, speaking inaudibly for 20 seconds into a microphone that wasn’t on before someone reached over and turned it on for him:
“Is it on now? Anybody care about what I said previously?” he asked, chuckling along with the press and audience.
Rep. Henry Cuellar couldn’t tell whether his microphone was on either, speaking for several minutes before someone stepped in to turn it on for him.
ABC also reported that one of the witness’ name cards was placed upside down.
The meeting featured testimony from Vernal Branch, a breast-cancer survivor, Dr. Odette Cohen, a pediatrician, Ed Burke, a hemophiliac worried about lifetime caps on insurance, and Medicare recipient Claudette Therriault.
There have been growing pains on both sides of the aisle at the beginning of the 112th Congress as party leaders have goofed in getting used to their new roles. Most notably, two Republican House members neglected to be sworn in properly, and had to have their subsequent votes taken out of the Congressional Record until they could be sworn in again.