CBS' Attkisson uncritically reported Dreier's complaints about Dems "100 Hours" agenda

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

On the CBS Evening News, Sharyl Attkisson uncritically aired former House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier's complaint that he is "very disappointed" that House Democrats planned to pass their "100 Hours" legislative agenda without Republican input, but she did not mention Dreier's remarks in 2003 justifying the Republicans' restrictive rules on amendments to legislation as "what it took to govern."

On the January 3 edition of the CBS Evening News, Capitol Hill correspondent Sharyl Attkisson uncritically aired former House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier's (R-CA) complaint that he is "very disappointed" that House Democrats planned to pass their "100 Hours" legislative agenda without Republican input. Noting then-House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi's (CA) pledge of bipartisanship after the Democrats won control of Congress in the 2006 elections, Attkisson said, "Republicans cut out of the legislative push are wondering: What happened to all of the nice talk?" But Dreier's January 3 remarks are very different from comments he made when the Republicans still controlled the Congress, justifying his refusal to allow Democrats the opportunity to offer amendments to bills on a variety of issues. Attkisson made no mention of those comments or of Dreier's conduct of the Rules Committee when he was chairman.

Before the Republicans took control of Congress in 1994, Dreier complained of the Democrats' unfair procedural tactics but later, when the Republicans gained the majority, he argued that those methods are sometimes required to govern. The Washington Post reported on June 16, 2003:

In an interview, Dreier said he "learned quickly" that running Congress as the majority party requires some of the same procedural tricks he complained about a decade ago.

"I was bellyaching. I had not known what it took to govern," he acknowledged. Now, "our number one priority is to move our agenda ... with one of the narrowest majorities in history."

After uncritically airing Dreier's criticism of the "100 Hours" agenda, Attkisson concluded her report by saying, "[I]t sure looks like bipartisanship is dissolving before it ever had a chance really to gel." But as the Post also reported in its June 2003 article, rules crafted by Dreier's committee for the consideration of bills on the House floor often excluded Democratic input, a point Attkisson ignored:

On many high-profile issues, Dreier, whose committee decides the rules for each debate, has refused to allow Democrats an opportunity to offer a substitute amendment on the House floor. He has infuriated Democrats by denying them votes on their plans for everything from unemployment insurance to tax cuts.

[...]

Republicans have used the Rules Committee to block Democrats from offering more generous unemployment benefits to a bigger pool of workers, greater homeland security funding and smaller tax cuts.

From the January 3 edition of the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric:

ATTKISSON: [Anchor] Katie [Couric], now, when George Bush was governor of Texas, he had to deal with a Democratic state house. He was quite successful at that. Now, he'll have to try it as president with a Democratic Congress, but the early signs aren't too encouraging.

[begin video clip]

BUSH: I'm hopeful that Republicans and Democrats can find common ground to serve our folks.

ATTKISSON: Today, sentiment from the president is exactly what incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed after her party won control of Congress in November.

PELOSI: And Democrats pledge civility and bipartisanship in the conduct of the work here.

ATTKISSON: Of course, voters made it crystal clear that's what they want, too. But eight weeks later, Democrats are planning to spend their first 100 hours tackling an ambitious agenda without any input from Republicans -- enacting all the 9-11 Commission recommendations, upping the minimum wage, expanding embryonic stem cell research, bargaining for lower Medicare drug prices, slashing student loan interest rates, and deep-sixing billions of dollars in subsidies for Big Oil.

Republicans cut out of the legislative push are wondering: What happened to all of the nice talk?

DREIER: I am very disappointed. It's totally inconsistent with what we have been promised throughout this campaign process.

[end video clip]

ATTKISSON: Democrats now say after the first 100 hours, they will give Republicans more of a say-so, but it sure looks like bipartisanship is dissolving before it ever had a chance really to gel.

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