Kings of the Hill: Game of Thrones

Rep. Israel will be submitting a regular column to Huffington Post called 'Kings of the Hill' to offer humorous dispatches from inside the halls of Congress. Below is his second column.


For those who follow politics like episodes of Game of Thrones, get ready for a blockbuster season when the new Congress begins this week. Cast with committee chairs who rule with the congressional equivalent of the scepter: a gavel.

Think a congressional committee chair has no true power? Ask Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, whose words so incensed Darryl Issa that he commanded that Cummings' microphone be turned off. Stopping a congressman from speaking on CSPAN is as close as Washington gets to royal beheadings.

Off with their headlines!

Already, post-election palace intrigue has resulted in King John's (as in Boehner) bestowal of high-backed leather thrones in princely jurisdictions. Secured through plotting and planning; payment of dues (specifically to the Party campaign committee); oaths of fealty; and the usual backscratching-slash-stabbing.

May I present, Their Royal Highnesses, Season 114:

Paul Ryan becomes the new chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. Ryan is a true and faithful servant of tax cuts for the rich and Medicare vouchers for seniors. He now rules the committee that decides on tax cuts for the rich and Medicare for seniors. Long live the king!

The House Homeland Security Committee will continue to be chaired by Michael McCaul of Texas. Loyal to the edict that the Department of Homeland Security full appropriation be delayed to retaliate for President Obama's executive order on deportation. (Can anyone imagine the leaders of ISIL debating a "short term continuing resolution" in their security budgets? We should be so lucky!)

The fiefdom of Financial Service will be ruled by another Texan, Jeb Hensarling. Hensarling proclaims that what the economy needs now is less regulation of the big banks that pulled the economy off a cliff in 2008 because of, um, less regulation. Which is like saying that if you get into a car crash because of squishy brakes, you should tell your mechanic to disconnect the brakes.

Meanwhile, the kingdom remains barren of Baronesses, Queens, Princesses, Duchesses. Of the seventeen Republican standing committees, the number of actual Chairwomen is a grand total In this royal line, diversity is defined by the pattern on Brooks Brothers ties. Is there no glass slipper in this palace of glass ceilings?

In the TV series Game of Thrones, the cast-offs, the drifting, the neglected are sent to a place called "north of the wall." In Washington, this group would be called America's middle class; and the wall is the Washington Beltway.

Still, there may hope that Their Highnesses will leave some crumbs from the subsidies and tax cuts they heap on big corporations and special interests. Remember what one great royal said of her middle class during a time of grave income inequality: "Let them eat cake."

Rep. Steve Israel is in the House Democratic Leadership. His Washington parody, "The Global War On Morris" will be released by Simon & Schuster on Jan. 5.