As the federal government was heading for a shutdown Friday night, House Republicans called an emergency meeting.
Plot twist: it was about cheese.
During her broadcast that evening, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow appeared astonished while reporting on the gathering, which was arranged so that lawmakers could discuss the Curd Act, a proposal to allow some cheeses to be advertised as “natural” despite having artificial ingredients.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) was clearly irked, feeling the timing was pretty inconvenient.
“This is an emergency meeting that we’re having here and I’ve seen some surreal things around this place, but this is really something,” McGovern said. “Vital parts of our government are about to shut down in just a few hours, and the Republicans have called an emergency meeting on cheese.”
Venting his frustration with Republicans in the room, McGovern wondered whether his colleagues had thought about how the meeting would look to the public, which would soon be faced with the third shutdown of the year.
“I mean, has anybody considered how ridiculous this is or how bad the optics are as the American people are watching what’s going on here?” he asked. “By all means, if you think the most important thing we have to discuss right now is cheese, I’ll let you have at it.”
Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) eventually jumped in to defend the meeting, calling the cheese bill “important to small business,” then eventually segueing into the issue of funding for the southern border wall, the key matter that prompted the shutdown.
“We are being overrun on our southern border,” Sessions declared.
That’s when McGovern piped up, appearing confused, asking, “There’s no wall in this bill, right?”
“It is important,” Sessions argued back, clarifying that he was “not talking about the wall of cheese.”