By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON â€“ House Democrats and Republicans have put aside their differences this year to honor the likes of golfer Phil Mickelson, the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team, NASCAR driver Jimmy Johnson and the Penn State women’s volleyball team.
But when it came time this week to memorialize the start of the 142nd season of the Saratoga race course in New York, one freshman lawmaker decided he’d had enough.
“It’s an absolute embarrassment,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, announcing on the House floor a vow to vote against all future sports resolutions.
He worried that there were kids in the visitors’ gallery who would go back home and, asked whether Congress was talking about war or debt, reply: “Oh no, they were honoring a race course.”
“It’s terribly frustrating,” Chaffetz said.
The freshman Republican did appear to win a few converts: The bill passed by a mere 396-14, a high number of “no” votes for the kind of commemorative resolutions that often pass unanimously.
Every week the House spends a couple of days churning out such non-controversial bills. Beyond honoring sports achievements, they name post offices, praise armed service members, mourn distinguished people who’ve died and recognize historic anniversaries. This year the House has come together to support national pollinator week, national dairy month and national train day.
Chaffetz, in an interview, said he’s got nothing against recognizing worthwhile causes such as breast cancer awareness, “but there are too many of them and they’re just too frivolous.” He said he drew the line at sports bills because athletes already get “more than their fair share of accolades.”
Chaffetz gained attention earlier this year when he confronted President Barack Obama at a Republican retreat in Baltimore, accusing Obama of breaking promises to block lobbyists from administration jobs and get rid of special project spending.
He sees the resolutions as proof that Democrats are just filling time because of their inability to tackle the larger issues facing the nation.
To read more, visit: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100723/ap_on_go_co/us_congress_sports_bills_1
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