Nebraska congressional representative Lee Terry is a political wet noodle who doesn’t have the political strength to whip his way out of a wet paper bag!
You may think that is a fairly harsh comment to make about a sitting U.S. Congressman. You would be right, but if you were one of the Nebraskans watching Chairman Lee Terry’s Energy and Commerce subcommittee hearing regarding the Keystone XL pipeline on Thursday, Sept. 19, I don’t believe you could come to any other conclusion.
Lee Terry, an adamant supporter of this export pipeline and big-time swallower of the bait TransCanada has been casting around for a couple years, called the Sept. 19 hearing to recognize the five-year anniversary of TransCanada filing for a permit.
People asked to testify made opening statements, then after all were done, the congressional representatives were allowed to ask questions. One Nebraskan who traveled to D.C. to testify was the executive director of Bold Nebraska, Jane Kleeb. She is the leading and most outspoken pipeline fighter and works tirelessly trying to protect Nebraska’s resources, both land and water, as well as the property rights of Nebraska farmers and ranchers.
When it came time for Rep. Bill Johnson from Ohio to ask questions he put his sights on Kleeb and began a political assassination attempt unlike any other I have seen in a committee hearing. All the while, Chairman Lee Terry allowed this completely unacceptable behavior to continue, despite a plea from Rep. Schakowsky for Lee Terry to step up to his chairman’s responsibility and bring some civility to the hearing.
It was obvious to all watching that Lee Terry had no intention of stopping the bloodletting on Kleeb, his fellow Nebraskan. Folks, I have to tell you it was a disgusting thing to watch, and if you have any respect at all for Lee Terry, let it go. He is not worthy, and openly displayed his reputation as a shallow, relatively non-effective politician in plain daylight.
Meanwhile, Johnson continued to take personal shots at Kleeb. He asked who funded her, giving her no time to answer the question. He asked about her husband’s business and if she was the beneficiary of his grant-funded business. He asked for a list of donors to Bold Nebraska.
And finally, after repeated attempts to answer Johnson’s questions and Johnson not allowing her to do so, he condescendingly, said, “Mrs. Kleeb, let me tell you how this process works. You are testifying before the American people and that means I ask the questions and you answer!” Kleeb reminded the congressman she is an American citizen paying his salary!
Obviously caught off guard, Johnson could only say, “But you’re… hey! That’s what… That’s not what this meeting is about… You get to vote back in Nebraska, that’s who your representatives are, and I am empowered right now to ask questions on behalf of the American people, so DON’T START FILIBUSTERING ME!”
If Rep. Johnson was in a school, the principal would have expelled him for bullying, which Chairman Terry should have done. It was at this point Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois butted in asking for Lee Terry to stop this harassment. Lee Terry ignored the request.
And just when you thought is couldn’t get any worse, it did. When Jane Kleeb tried to explain why she was in Washington to testify, holding up a picture of fellow Nebraskans, Johnson said he doesn’t care about her picture and asked Lee Terry to instruct Kleeb to answer the question.
Lee Terry, who was surely enjoying the harassment of his political foe, simply said to Johnson, “Continue with your questions.”
Are you kidding me? Continue with your questions? Lee Terry, you are a disgrace. You, the chair, were willing to let a congressman harangue a fellow Nebraskan who traveled halfway across the country to testify at YOUR committee.
Johnson then asked Kleeb what qualified her to be opposed to pipe, but gave her no time to answer. He asked if she had ever taken a chemistry class or a physics class.
Then, a snickering Lee Terry informed Rep. Johnson his time had expired. Johnson immediately left the room. Next up was Rep. Schakowsky who courageously did what Lee Terry should have done all along, calling Johnson’s questioning an “inappropriate harangue” and that “NOBODY deserves to be harangued in a manner that she (Kleeb) was.”
Kleeb calmly responded saying Lee Terry knows why she is in this fight, and that, “Farmers and ranchers shouldn’t have to take on the risk of a foreign oil export pipeline. It’s pretty simple.” She added about the now absent Johnson, “He is not even here to look me in the eye and didn’t have the courage to stand here and allow me to fully answer.”
Hey! I don’t have to defend Jane Kleeb; she is tougher than a rusty nail. I’ll just remind you that Jane is doing exactly what Adrian Smith and Lee Terry should be doing. She is fighting for Nebraskans, not foreign oil owners. She is fighting for landowners’ property rights instead of campaign contributions. She is fighting for something more precious than oil, or votes… Nebraska’s water.
As the hearing wound down Kleeb continued to show courage under fire and made Nebraskans proud. Terry, by allowing the ambush of Kleeb to take place, embarrassed not only himself, but the state as well.
Nice work Jane! Shame on you Lee Terry. And you, Rep. Johnson, are a coward afraid to hear answers to your own questions.