One leader in the Iowa House ranted and screamed, while another sought to soothe tempers this (Wednesday) morning as another day is passing without a final agreement among legislators and the governor over state spending.
House Democratic Leader Pat Murphy of Dubuque went ballistic. “Ladies and gentleman, welcome to the Iowa Legislature where there’s a two-day work week and a five-day weekend,” Murphy said. “That’s the Iowa Legislature, but it’s really Iowans held hostage.”
Murphy accused Republicans of holding Iowa’s teachers and elderly citizens “hostage” because they’ve rejected a counter-offer from Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack on teacher pay and a tax cut for Iowans over age 65.
“We should be here every day just like every other Iowan (who) works for a living,” Murphy said, slamming his hand on his desk repeatedly, then he yelled. “We’re sitting here and saying, ‘Well, we don’t have an agreement, everybody go home.’ It’s wrong! It’s wrong!” Murphy said. “Iowans deserve better from the 100 of us and we, instead, go home.”
Moments later, House Speaker Christopher Rants, a Republican from Sioux City, conceded the deal-making has been difficult, but Rants said legislative leaders and the governor have reached agreements on some items, like funding for community colleges and a requirement that schools have a librarian on staff.
“Whatever it is that I’ve agreed to downstairs thus far I will abide by whether or not we eventually have a deal that everybody jumps up and down and sings kum-ba-yah about because if I made that agreement I’m going to stick to it,” Rants said. “I’ve already told the House Republicans and I’ll remind them again now, I’m going to be asking them to come along with me, to follow me on those agreements.”
But divisions between the parties are so tense that when the Republican floor leader moved to adjourn the House, the motion failed because there were only 20 Republicans present and all the Democrats voted no.