Late last week, freshman Congressman Jason Chaffetz, a Republican, went on a virtual tirade via Twitter, a social media networking website, after members of the U.S. House voted on a non-binding resolution to congratulate the men’s and women’s diving teams from the University of Texas for winning championships in their sports. Idaho’s congressmen supported the measure and others like it because they believe that sometimes it is necessary to recognize the efforts of teams and individuals .
During his Internet outburst, Chaffetz criticized members of Congress for wasting the time of federal officials on sports resolutions. “No longer will I vote for recognizing sports teams or athletes for simply winning. Congrats! They won! But I am only going to vote Present,” Chaffetz said on his Twitter account, but he didn’t stop there. He posted several more messages explaining his opposition to resolutions.
From Chaffetz’s Twitter feed:
No more will I vote in favor of recognizing sports accomplishments. People who change the world in math, science, medicine-these I support.
Watch ESPN and hold a hometown parade, but Congress is not where you should come seeking recognition in athletics.
The stock market is diving and we are going to the Floor to vote on men's diving (swimming)....really!
Chaffetz even promised to vote present in Congress if a bill recognizing his state’s National Basketball Association team, the Utah Jazz, did well in the playoffs.
Idaho’s own congressmen don’t necessarily share the same view as Chaffetz on resolutions. Idaho’s 1st District congressman, Walt Minnick, a Democrat, teamed with Congressman Mike Simpson, who represents Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District, to co-sponsor a resolution honoring the Boise State Bronco football team on its win in the 2010 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl in Arizona in January. That measure passed with a lone dissenting vote, a congressman from Pennsylvania who felt that because the Broncos didn’t win a national championship, they didn’t deserve his vote. Boise State finished the season 14-0, only one of two teams to have an undefeated record in the 2009-2010 college football season. The University of Alabama, the national champion, was the other.
Simpson blamed the wasted time considering resolutions on the Democratic leadership of the House. Simpson said this in an e-mail to IdahoReporter.com:
I share Representative Chaffetz’s frustration with the fact that Congress has been doing little over the past few weeks except congratulate sports teams and recognize individuals. I can completely understand why the American people are frustrated with what is going on in Congress right now, which is doing nothing to alleviate the burdens they are facing as they struggle to provide for their families during this economic crisis. Unfortunately, the reality is that in the House of Representatives, the majority party makes the rules, and right now the Democrats are in control of the House of Representatives and therefore have complete control of the floor schedule and what bills do—and do not—come to the floor.
Minnick said that sometimes resolutions are the right thing to do. “I agree that Congress is facing some very serious issues and has tough problems to solve. That’s why I am focused on ways to reduce our deficit get our economy back on track. Sometimes these resolutions are appropriate, and sometimes they aren’t. But I do appreciate the opportunity to recognize constituents when it is appropriate,” he said.
Minnick and Simpson also worked together to co-sponsor a resolution congratulating the University of Idaho football team on its 2009 win in the Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl in Boise. It was the football team’s first bowl win in 10 years.