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Oversight Panel's Democrats Lock Out Republicans After Dispute

The Democratic chairman of the House committee responsible for government oversight has indefinitely locked Republican members out of the hearing room, following a dispute over a mortgage loan controversy. 

Kurt Bardella, spokesman for ranking Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said Chairman Edolphus Towns, D-N.Y., had the locks on the Republican entrance changed Tuesday. 

The move was apparently was in retaliation for Issa's efforts to subpoena records on Countrywide's so-called VIP loan program and for a video Issa's staff recorded of Democrats darting from their chambers a week ago in the face of a vote. 

"They say we will have access to the hearing room when the general public does," Bardella told Foxnews.com. "I'm embarrassed for them." 

Bardella jokingly toyed with the idea of "TP"-ing the hearing room in response. "We can play at the second-grade level just like anybody else can," he said. 

A representative from Towns's office could not be reached for comment. 

The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee apparently was miffed over a video the Republicans took last Thursday and posted on the minority Web site. 

At the meeting, Issa had threatened to demand a vote on subpoenaing Bank of America for records of the Countrywide loan program, through which prominent members of Congress and officials are accused of receiving VIP loans. Democrats cancelled the meeting, though, citing a conflict with another committee. 

Issa's office posted a Web video, under the title "Hit the Road, Jack," showing empty Democratic seats in the hearing room, followed by footage of Democrats leaving their chambers. 

Bardella said his boss won't stop bringing up the Countrywide issue. 

"We're going to bring this up at every opportunity possible until we have an up-or-down vote," he said. 

Foxnews.com's Judson Berger contributed to this report. 

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