Congressman Boycotts House Resolutions Saluting Sports Champions

A congressman is crying foul over House resolutions honoring sports heroes and championships teams -- and he's urging his fellow lawmakers to do the same.

Freshman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, is voting "present" on any sports resolutions that come to the House floor in protest of a time-honored tradition that he says has gone too far.

"It finally just got to be enough. It's absurd," Chaffetz told, arguing that there is "no rhyme or reason" to the resolutions.

"Does (golfer) Phil Mickelson need a pat on the back," he said, adding that he once had to congratulate the Los Angeles Lakers on its championship run last season. "Does Kobe Bryant know where D.C. is?"

Chaffetz estimated that the House passes about three to four sports resolutions per week and it's rare for lawmakers to ever vote against them.

Some lawmakers are calling Chaffetz a sore sport.

"Any team he represents will never earn a resolution," Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., joked to Congressional Quarterly, which first reported the standoff.

Chaffetz's argument, however, is winning bipartisan support.

Six lawmakers joined Chaffetz in voting "present" on a resolution last week honoring the University of Texas men's swimming and diving team. Seven withheld their vote on honoring Mickelson's victory after this year's Master's tournament.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., has been voting "present" on the sports resolutions for at least a year, a spokesman for Oberstar told,

"He just looks at the resolution and says it's championship. Shouldn't the championship be its own reward?" spokesman John Schadl said, adding that Oberstar doesn't believe champions like Mickelson are hoping Congress gives them a resolution.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said his "present" votes on sports resolutions are not inspired by Chaffetz.

"We have problems in this country we must address, not the least of which is creating jobs," DeFazio said in a written statement. "I just don't think we should wasting our time on hortatory resolutions."

Chaffetz, who played football for BYU, said the "boiling point" for him came in March when House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., introduced a resolution honoring the University of Maryland Terrapins men's basketball team.

"They had not even selected the 64 teams for March Madness and we're recognizing the University of Maryland?" he asked.

Hoyer's office did not return calls seeking comment.

Chaffetz called the resolutions a waste of time and money, noting that the votes can take up to 30 minutes and requires weighty documentation and work from clerks and staffers.

"I don't know how much it costs, but it ain't cheap," he said.

Chaffetz said Congress should be paying attention to other matters.

"I don't see us doing resolutions supporting spelling bee champions and people making advances in medicine," he said, adding that he's going to start introducing those types of measures.

The last time Congress introduced a resolution honoring a spelling bee champion was in 2004, although lawmakers do offer congratulations to spelling champions in the congressional record, according to the office of the House historian.

"We're not producing a budget," Chaffetz said, referring to the increasing likelihood that the House Democratic leadership will not pass a budget resolution for the coming fiscal year. "Major things are not going on, and we're recognizing the University of Texas men's diving team? Come on."