Illinois lawmaker's outburst creates online stir
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — Screaming, swearing and referencing the Bible, a red-faced Illinois Rep. Mike Bost punched at papers he threw in the air while lambasting the state's powerful House speaker. Then he swiped his microphone away and flopped back in his chair in a silent sulk.
The Republican's videotaped tirade is creating an online stir, and he said Thursday that he's received mostly positive reaction since his outburst Tuesday on the Illinois House floor.
He said he's been surprised by the attention, since his echoed similar outbursts directed at Speaker Michael Madigan and Democrats over the years by Republicans, the minority party at the Capitol.
Bost said his frustration was a long time coming. The tipping point came as lawmakers prepared to vote on a contentious plan to overhaul the state's overburdened pension system, and Democrats used a 1995 rule to block debate or amendments. Bost, from Murphysboro in southern Illinois, erupted.
"These damn bills that come out here all the damn time come out here at the last second and I've got to try to figure out how to vote for my people," he screamed on the House floor. Then directing his anger at Madigan, Bost yelled: "You should be ashamed of yourself. I'm sick of it."
He later said he felt like an Israelite slave being held in ancient Egypt.
"Let my people go!" he yelled. "They sent me here to vote for them ... but I'm trapped. I'm trapped by rules that have been forced down our throats."
On Thursday, Bost said key legislation is too often forced to a vote without a chance for debate or amendment. Without either, he said, rank-and-file legislators simply vote the way party leaders instruct them.
Bost said that's standard practice in the Illinois House but shouldn't be.
"I don't think the general public accepts it, and I think that's the reason we're getting the response we're getting," Bost said, adding that he's heard from people around Illinois and the country who mostly support his position. "Enough's enough."
He acknowledged voting in 1995 in favor of the rule used to block debate, which was sponsored by Republicans. Bost now says he didn't fully understand it and called his vote a mistake.
Madigan has been speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1983. The Chicago Democrat is often a source of frustration for lawmakers from southern Illinois, particularly Republicans, who believe he wields near absolute power and steers state resources to Chicago.
Bost said the speaker should be limited to three terms.
Madigan shrugged off Bost's complaints, attributing them to frustration that he said is widespread as the Illinois Legislature pushes through the final days of the 2012 session.
"That's life in the General Assembly," Madigan said. "Let's not get swept up in the emotion of the minute."