Lawrence O'Donnell got into an angry argument with a Republican congressman over the impending government shutdown.
On his Thursday show, O'Donnell and Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia argued about who was to blame for the shutdown, and O'Donnell pressed Graves about the so-called "riders" in the bill that many say are the sticking point between the Democrats and the Republicans.
The "riders" are policy items attached to the overall budget that try to strip funding from certain programs. It is widely believed that it is these riders, not any argument about spending, that are what is holding up a deal between the two parties. Perhaps the key rider concerns the funding of Planned Parenthood.
O'Donnell asked Graves, "Can you vote for a bill that does not completely defund Planned Parenthood?" Graves was cagey, only saying that he wants to vote for a bill that "maximizes the savings for the American people." O'Donnell asked him repeatedly, but Graves would only say that he did not "intend" to vote for a bill that funded Planned Parenthood.
"You are willing to stop payment for the troops in order to stop any funding for Planned Parenthood," O'Donnell said. Graves objected to this, saying that the House had voted to fund the troops only that day. O'Donnell said the measure in question was nothing but a political ploy, not a serious bill.
O'Donnell then asked Graves about a bill that he said would allow the House to pass measures into law without the approval of the Senate, or even the president. O'Donnell called it an "absurdist, unconstitutional cartoon" and asked Graves how he could have voted for it. Graves said he was glad O'Donnell had mentioned the Constitution, because "nowhere in the Constitution does it say, fund Planned Parenthood." This got O'Donnell really mad. "You should be ashamed of yourself," he shouted. "Your insane bill says that the House of Representatives can pass a bill and it becomes law without the signature of the president."