So much for that special British relationship with the U.S. Congress
The grumblings in the British press about how Prime Minister Gordon Brown was treated on his visit to the United States will almost certainly increase when they learn that several Senate committees kept working while he addressed a joint meeting of Congress.
Brown’s session with President Barack Obama at the White House was cast by some in the British press as a bit of a snub because there was no formal news conference, dinner with their spouses or other fanfare for his visit — the first by a foreign leader with the new president. Instead the two chatted with reporters in the Oval Office and took a handful of questions.
And as the British leader addressed members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, a rare honor bestowed a visiting foreign leader, at least four Senate committees plowed ahead with their hearings on a wide variety of subjects.
As Brown called on the United States to lead the world out of the global recession, the Senate Finance Committee pummeled Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner with questions about how to do just that. And the Senate Judiciary Committee was busy investigating the national security policies of the now-gone Bush administration.
Brown met several times with Bush during his presidency and was treated with a rare visit to Camp David to try to seal their working relationship and friendship in 2007.
Additionally, the Senate Agriculture Committee met during Brown’s remarks to discuss ways to improve child nutrition and the Senate Special Committee on Aging delved into health reform.
Although some committees continued, senior Democratic and Republican leaders attended Brown’s speech, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden who sat behind Brown as is customary for such sessions.
Still, Brown was treated to a lunch with congressional leaders after his speech. Additionally, numerous lawmakers sought Brown’s autograph after his speech just like Obama’s address to Congress last week.
- Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed (Brown addresses a joint meeting of Congress.)