*Action on the Stop Online Piracy Act [SOPA] was temporarily derailed in the House Judiciary Committee yesterday when Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee got wind of a tweet by one of her Republican colleagues.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) posted on his Twitter: “We are debating the Stop Online Piracy Act and Shiela Jackson [sic] has so bored me that I’m killing time by surfing the Internet.”
Jackson Lee objected and the hearing ground to a stop, reports Deadline.com. It was unacceptable “to have a member of the Judiciary committee be so offensive,” Jackson Lee said. But King was not on the premises by the time she became aware of his tweet.
Turns out Jackson’s use of the word “offensive” proved even more problematic than King’s use of “boring” – because parliamentary tradition doesn’t allow fellow members to describe each other as “offensive.” So negotiations began to persuade Jackson Lee to allow her comment to be deleted from the official record.
SOPA co-author Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) explained that he was only trying to “avoid making an official ruling” to the effect that Jackson Lee “impugned the integrity of a member of this committee.”
But, Jackson Lee would not budge. Furthermore, she wanted King to “give the committee an apology.” But he had already left the meeting.
Jackson Lee consulted the committee’s parliamentarian. Finally, she relented and agreed to have “just that one word stricken from the record.” Instead of King’s tweet being “offensive,” Jackson Lee would call it “impolitic and unkind.”
The panel resumed defeating proposed amendments usually by a margin of 22 to 12, siding with the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and their allies. At the end of the day, SOPA remained intact.
King later said of the drama: “Judging from the many responses of my critics, they’ve never heard of multitasking and need to, in the words of Cain, get a sense of humor.”