Republicans Duncan Hunter of California, Chris Collins of New York, and Steve King of Iowa have a whole lot of time to do nothing in the House of Representatives, where nobody wants to sit next to them during lunch or play tag with them at recess, Politico reported on Monday.
The three Republicans were basically excommunicated from the House GOP when they were pulled off their committee assignments, forcing them to watch the 116th Congress from the sidelines.
Hunter, the vaping congressman, and Collins were both stripped of their committee assignments last summer after being federally charged with misusing campaign funds for personal use with his wife and insider trading, respectively. Both pleaded not guilty, ran for re-election in their districts, and (somehow??) still won. However, under a new House GOP conference rule adopted shortly after the elections, any representative under indictment for a felony must be removed from committees and leadership posts “until the legal matter gets resolved,” according to Politico.
Meanwhile, King is spending his time kicking rocks over by the edge of the playground as punishment for defending white nationalism and white supremacy in an interview with the New York Times last month.
Without their committees, Hunter, Collins, and King have been left to twiddle their thumbs or desperately vie for some C-SPAN time with short House floor speeches at odd hours of the day. And while they might have some luck with congressional caucuses, that venue is all but pointless without the help of other representatives. From Politico, emphasis mine:
The members could also put more energy into congressional caucuses or lobby their colleagues to move their bills, though there is little guarantee for success. It’s much more difficult for a single lawmaker to wield influence in the House, whereas in the Senate, any lone member can hold up floor proceedings.
Yet caucuses are hardly a substitute for congressional committees, where lawmakers hone their policymaking skills and climb the party ranks. [...] That means the castaways would likely need the cooperation of their colleagues to be effective — and there is little appetite, especially among Democrats, to work closely with the trio of lawmakers who are under indictment or condemned for racist remarks.
“Zero” is how Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio.) described the level of interest among his colleagues in working with Collins, Hunter or King.
Hunter and King, clearly upset that no one wants to come over to their houses after school for Xbox and Totino’s Pizza Rolls, did not return Politico’s requests for comment. But Collins told the site he plans on using his newfound free time to focus on constituent services, attend more district events, get underutilized congressional caucuses running again, and possibly co-sponsoring bills that lost their GOP backers in the midterms.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m making the best of it,” Collins told Politico.