Barney Frank ejected from House defending Jim Himes’ honor

A verbal fight that ended in the ejection of pugnacious Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., from the House floor broke out Wednesday after Democrats accused Republicans of stealing a bill sponsored by Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District.

Himes won approval of legislation last year that aims to help community banks provide resources to local businesses. The legislation is part of a JOBS Act under consideration by the House this week.

Trouble is, Himes’ name isn’t on the legislation. Instead, it bears the name of Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle.

Frank complained the bill had been “kidnapped” by Republican leadership from Himes, and Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert.

“Apparently the Republican leadership decided it was Christmas in March,” Frank said. “So they stole the bill from Mr. Schweikert and Mr. Himes, and made a present of it to the gentleman from Arizona, Mr. Quayle.”

That was followed by accusations of hypocrisy by Frank — and his removal from the House floor.

Himes, who has previously said that “Ben Quayle was not within a country mile when we were crafting the legislation,” also got into the act.

He said he was “sorry this bill has been spoiled by the antics of the Republican majority.” And he brought up an embarrassing incident involving Ben Quayles’ father, who had trouble correctly spelling “potato.”

“(President Ronald) Reagan said, ‘You’d get a lot done in Washington, D.C., if you didn’t care who gets the credit,” Himes said. “There may be only one way to spell ‘potato,’ but there are a lot of ways to skin a cat — and if we’re going to skin this cat this way, I’m OK with that.”

Quayle said accusations of bill stealing are “ridiculous.” He said the bill under consideration modifies Himes’ legislation to make it easier to win approval.

Republican leaders may have “borrowed” Himes’ bill to put Quayle on the same footing with Schweikert, who, because of redistricting, is running against Quayle. The GOP leaders may want both Republican candidates to claim victory with the JOBS Act.

Himes said this strategy won’t work.

“It’s going to be pretty evident that (Quayle) did not have anything to do with (the JOBS Act),” he said.