If House Resolution 882 were to pass through the state House of Representatives any faster than it did this week, it’d have to be attached to a greased pig. But with extensive talk about the time needed to address budget cutbacks this session and the limited time to do so, the House took more than 30 minutes after the governor’s State of the State address to talk about the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.
Democrats were already crying foul before the resolution came up before the full House, arguing that the resolution was a tactic for Republicans to use in the general election — Democrats who voted against it because it congratulates President Donald Trump would be painted as unpatriotic because the resolution also congratulates the men and women in the American military.
State Rep. Heath Clark. R-Warner Robins and chairman of the House Defense & Veterans Affairs Committee, spoke on the resolution to the House.
“This resolution we have today is simple, and it’s to urge the support of and commend the intelligence agencies that gathered the information, the brave men and women of the United States armed forces, and the commander-in-chief, President Trump, for this successful mission,” Clark said. “A mission that resulted in the loss of zero innocent civilian life because of the precision and the excellence of our men and women in the armed forces and the intelligence community that gathered the information to carry out this successful mission.”
In a series of questions to Clark, state Rep. Steven Sainz, R-Woodbine, said the president’s “decisive action” and those under his command helped preserve peace and keep members of the military out of harm’s way, and that the resolution was a specific and timely affirmation of their sacrifice.
State Rep. Mike Glanton, D-Jonesboro — a retired Army airborne combat veteran — gave the Democrats’ minority report on the resolution. Glanton noted his father was a veteran and Purple Heart recipient, his wife is a veteran, his son is a veteran, his daughter is in her 18th year of active military duty and his granddaughter is on active duty at Ft. Hood, Texas.
“We believe in our military,” Glanton said. “And we believe in our oath of enlistment — to protect and to defend the constitution of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic. And, to further guard our country and its way of life.
“Mr. Speaker, I say that to make sure that there is no question as to my personal loyalty to our military. However, I respectfully submit that this resolution, Mr. Speaker, has absolutely nothing to do with honoring our military. This resolution is not about the brave actions of our military. This resolution is not about principles or protections. This resolution is not about policy. Simply put, Mr. Speaker, this resolution is clearly about positioning and politics.”
Glanton said the resolution only serves as a distraction from the business at hand, burning the legislature’s valuable and limited time.
H.R. 882 passed the House with just a few votes more than the majority needed, 93-68. Along with Sainz, St. Simons Island Republican state Reps. Jeff Jones and Don Hogan voted yes.
Before the resolution it the House floor, it had to come up in the House Rules Committee, which held its first meeting of the session Thursday morning. House Rules is the main gatekeeper for legislation in the chamber, as it has to approve bills for consideration by the full House after they pass their assigned committee.
State Rep. Richard Smith, R-Columbus, took over chairmanship of the committee from former state Rep. Jay Powell, R-Camilla, who died in November.
“Somebody asked me the other day why we weren’t meeting at 8 o’clock, and I said, ‘That’s too early for me to have a meeting,’” Smith said at the outset of the meeting. “I used to be harassed a lot about my 8 o’clock meetings.”
Among the guidelines he set down were that if the meetings were scheduled at a certain time, they would begin at that time so as not to waste others’ time.
“Also, this is not a place for debate,” Smith said. “This is a place to evaluate a piece of legislation to see if it’s good enough to make it to the House floor for a vote. In regard to that, it’s the place to ask legitimate questions about a bill, or a piece of legislation, not to debate it.”
He said legislators introducing bills would get about a minute and a half to explain themselves, and there would only be four questions allowed per bill.
“Four questions,” Smith said. “Not, ‘If I ask one, can I get a second?’ It’s going to be a total of four questions. So, when the time comes for you to ask your questions, push a button (to activate your microphone) and we’ll proceed from there.”
The guidelines, if adhered to, could prove to make for relatively quick Rules meetings throughout the session.