Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) compared the civil liberties of minority groups to snail darters and prairie chickens at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday.
The hearing was convened to discuss the Sunshine for Regulatory Decrees and Settlements Act, a House bill that, according to Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), "could be used to prevent federal regulatory actions from being implemented."
Gohmert was responding to an amendment to the bill presented by Conyers and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.). The amendment would prevent third party intervention in regulatory action that would protect individuals from discrimination based on sex, race or national origin.
"There is nobody in this chamber who is more appreciative than I am for the gentleman from Tennessee and my friend from Michigan standing up for the rights of race, religion, national religion of the Delta Smelt, the snail darter, various lizards, the lesser prairie chicken, the greater sage grouts and so many other insects who would want someone standing for their religion, their race, their national origin and I think that’s wonderful," Gohmert said of the measure.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) criticized Gohmert's comments and defended the amendment, which failed to advance in a vote of 13 to 16.
"This is not a snail darter’s amendment, it is not an environmental amendment," he said. "It is a civil rights amendment, and we’re talking about the civil rights of people — the civil rights of people that have been violated egregiously for generations in this country."
This isn't the first time the representative stirred controversy during a committee hearing. Gohmert lost his temper at a hearing in May, tearing into Attorney General Eric Holder for questioning the integrity of his statements.
"I cannot have a witness challenge my character," Gohmert said, as House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) repeatedly reminded him that his time to speak had expired. "The attorney general will not cast aspersions on my asparagus."
CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Gohmert's first name.