Brian Bilbray's last hurrah: Appropriate last speaker at the 112th 'Do-Nothing' Congress
(Photo: Brian Bilbray at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, 2007.)
The 112th "Do-Nothing Tea Party" Congress ended just before midnight eastern time, Wednesday with a bang of the gavel that followed the last disjointed one-minute whimper from our favorite retiring congressman, Brian Bilbray, R-Carlsbad.
Representing Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. and the 50th Congressional District following the imprisonment on federal corruption charges of Randy "Duke" Cunningham, Bilbray was known as the congressional cigar club proprietor as well as leader of the anti-immigrant caucus, obviously a pressing issue at Rancho Santa Fe, one of the top 10 wealthiest communities in America.
Or: Say goodnight, Gracie.
It was a busy day of doing nothing but arguing over nonsense for the GOP Tea Party and its House leadership throughout New Year's Day, but finally, at long last, a two-month stop gap fiscal cliff measure passed the House in painfully bipartisan fashion, just before midnight.
As the GOP House leadership refused to consider a $60 billion funding request passed by the Senate to provide Hurricane Sandy relief, Republican and Democratic congressmen representing Sandy-affected districts spoke in shock and disbelief on the House floor. They passionately assailed the GOP House leadership for adjourning the session before taking action.
Just before the 112th House adjourned for all time, one last speaker strode to the podium, asking for a minute of the House's precious time before dissolving in the mists of history, and not in the good way.
Was it Henry Clay or John C. Calhoun, Sam Rayburn or the second coming of...nah. As Gilda Radner's Emily Litella used to say on "Saturday Night Live," NEVER MIND.
It was the esteemed Imperial Beach native, lifeguard-turned-Washington lobbyist-turned Rancho Santa Fe congressman Bilbray. And he wasn't talking about the fiscal cliff compromise or hurricane relief, he was talking about, d'uh, immigration. IMM-I-F'IN-GRATION.
"In leaving, I just want to say one thing," Bilbray said. "I hear one of the new, major issues you're going to address when this new congress comes is the issue of immigration and those of us in California understand that.
"I'd ask the one place Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on this, especially with the budget crisis is when are we going to stop the practice of people who are committing a crime by employing illegal immigrants.
"Take the tax deduction away and require that if a business wants to claim a business deduction for employing somebody that we make sure those employees are legal just by requiring e-verify.
"Again Mr. Speaker, I'm going to miss a lot of these faces around here in Washington but as a San Diegan let me assure you, I will not miss the weather. God bless and thank you."
Say goodnight Gracie, I mean Brian. And for the rest of us, see ya at the next fiscal cliff next month. Immigration issues will have to wait.