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Twitter Tiff Stalls Hearings on Stop Online Piracy Act

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, December 15 2011

The long, tortured, at times confused proceeding in the House Judiciary Committee Thursday around the Stop Online Piracy Act was punctuated during the afternoon with an online-offline tiff between Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas).

During markup on the bill, King said on Twitter that he was so "bored" by Jackson-Lee that he was surfing the Internet to pass the time. Later in the proceedings, Jackson-Lee referred to the tweet in her remarks, calling it "offensive." This triggered some sort of parliamentary unrest, and the next ten minutes were occupied by urgings for Jackson-Lee to remove her remarks from the record. In the House, it's standard procedure to avoid "impugning the integrity" of fellow lawmakers.

A parliamentarian descended the dais to confer with Jackson-Lee, and after several minutes of awkward silence — with lively chatter on Twitter, natch — the Democrat of Texas amended her remarks to call King's Internet exhortation "impolitic and unkind."

King was frequently the butt of jokes throughout the rest of the hearing. At one point, another member of Congress referred to him as "the gentleman who tweets so seldom."