Rep. Hank Johnson took to the House floor “like a kid at a carnival” Thursday to defend Americans’ right to helium in light of sequester spending cuts.
The Georgia Democrat, irked by his Republican cohorts, gave a snarky, pun-heavy speech in support of the Responsible Helium Administration and Stewardship Act of 2013, which would prevent the closure of the Federal Helium Reserve, scheduled to shutter by October.
“Mr. Speaker, I’m relieved, and I’m sure that the American people are relieved as well, that Congress is finally going to do something about one of the most pressing issues of the day,” he began. “That is we’ve got to ensure access to helium for all.”
Mr. Johnson urged “this tea party Congress” to keep “children’s birthday parties on schedule and give industries that rely on helium the lift that they deserve.”
“Surely those harmed by sequestration and those harmed by the Republican failure to appoint budget conferees appreciate the House spending two full legislative days on this most critical issue,” he said. “The American people certainly understand the fact that 48 hours of this House’s precious time was necessary to pass such a non-controversial bill.
“Imagine, Mr. Speaker, a world without balloons,” he said before pausing dramatically. “How can we make sure that the injustice of there being no helium for comedians to get that high-pitched voice that we all hold near and dear to our hearts?”
Despite his tongue-in-cheek delivery, he said he actually supports the legislation and that it isn’t the true target of his ire.
“The substance of this bill is not the focus of my sarcasm,” he said. “My point is that America would be much better off if this tea party Republican Congress brought to the floor issues that mean the most to Americans.”