- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 1, 2001

Cabinet slaughter
A furious tirade by a congresswoman against a member of President Bushs Cabinet was so explosive and severe late last week it was unlike any witnessed by either party in recent decades, Capitol Hill veterans tell Inside the Beltway.
For Cuban-born Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez — the unwitting target in the absence of Mr. Bush, who has proposed abolishing a $309 million public housing drug elimination program on grounds that it is ineffective — it was a most unsettling and ungracious welcome to Capitol Hill.
Rather than describing Thursdays verbal assault by the member of the housing subcommittee of the House Financial Services Committee, Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones, Ohio Democrat, a former county judge and prosecutor, well allow excerpts of the transcript to speak for itself.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Secretary Martinez, its nice to see you again. I enjoyed seeing you at the Wild Program for the Congressional Black Caucus, but Im troubled. And Im a former prosecutor, so Im going to cross-examine you a little bit. Id like short answers to my questions, please.
Now I want to talk about the Drug Elimination Program. In Cuyahoga County, Ohio, which is my congressional district, the Drug Elimination Program has been significant in reducing crime and activity in public housing. In fact, I think it was created in the Reagan administration, the purpose was because there was concentrated living in public housing. Youll agree with that right? Concentrated, densely populated?
Mr. Martinez: It was begun as an $8 million program to a few targeted housing authorities.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: No, answer my question. Its densely populated living, is that correct? Public housing?
Mr. Martinez: Well —
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Yes or no? Yes or no?
Mr. Martinez: Im telling you that public — in some places public housing has densely populated areas.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: High crime rate, yes or no?
Mr. Martinez: In some places yes and in some places no …
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: … What country have you been in the last 10 years? My next question —
Mr. Martinez: May I ask
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: No, no, no. You cant, Im going to keep going, no.
Mr. Martinez: I dont get to answer. I dont get to answer? … Do you want me to answer all the questions or just the ones you choose for me to answer?
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: No … Im running the questioning, youre answering. You answer my questions and dont get smart with me because Im not getting smart with you, sir.
Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Marge Roukema, New Jersey Republican: Im sorry, Im sorry. I have never, ever, in my 20 years on this committee heard this kind of response to members of the panel.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Ive never heard this kind of response to members of Congress. I asked him a question.
Mrs. Roukema: Excuse me.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Hes trying to make jokes out of my questions and I dont appreciate it.
Mrs. Roukema: I beg your pardon, I did not hear any jokes.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Look at his face.
Mrs. Roukema: If you want an answer, let him answer.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Ill tell him when I want an answer, Madame Chairwoman. You cant run my questioning.
Mrs. Roukema: All right.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Out of all respect to you, Im asking the questions, and Im getting the questions I want answered. Now, when you want to do your questions, then you do yours, but you cant run mine.
Now my question is, the purpose of police officers on the beat was so that the neighborhood people get to know the law enforcement folks. Is that a fair statement?
Mr. Martinez: Yes, maam.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: And so for you to terminate the Drug Elimination Program across the country … is irresponsible. And for you to terminate these programs in the administration, I wanted you to take back to the administration our frustration about the Drug Elimination Program, in light of the elimination of the COPS (President Clintons Community Oriented Policing Services) program as well.
Could you do that for us, please, Mr. Martinez?
Mr. Martinez: I will do so.
… And if you felt that I was, in my facial expressions, meaning some disrespect to you, I sincerely apologize. I did not mean to leave that impression.
Mrs. Tubbs-Jones: Thank you, and I accept the apology.


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