From THE HILL:
Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) said Saturday that healthcare protesters at the Capitol directed racial epithets at him and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) as they walked outside.
Carson, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus along with Lewis, told The Hill that protesters called the lawmakers the N-word.
Tea Party protesters held a rally outside the Capitol on Saturday, which included speeches by Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) and actor Jon Voight, and then proceeded into the halls to lobby members at the 11th hour.
Lewis was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement alongside Martin Luther King. Jr.
Asked if racial epithets were yelled at him, Lewis responded, “Yes, but it’s OK. I’ve heard this before in the ’60s. A lot of this is just downright hate.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s (D-Mo.) office said in a statement Saturday evening that one protester had spit on the congressman and was arrested by Capitol Police, but that Cleaver decided not to press charges.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) put out a statement Saturday night condemning the reports.
“Today’s protests against health insurance reform saw a rash of despicable, inflammatory behavior, much of it directed at minority Members of Congress,” Hoyer said. “According to reports, anti-reform protestors spat on Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver, yelled a sexual slur at Rep. Barney Frank, and addressed my dear friend, Rep. John Lewis, with a racial slur that he has sadly heard far too many times.
“…Members of Congress and opinion leaders ought to come to terms with their responsibility for inciting the tone and actions we saw today. A debate that began with false fears of forced euthanasia has ended in a truly ugly scene.”
From THINK PROGRESS (yesterday):
Tea Party activists have gathered on Capitol Hill today for a “Code Red” rally against health care reform. Speakers at the event included Republican Reps. Steve King (IA), Michele Bachmann (MN), and Mike Pence (IN). The gathering was organized by Tea Party Profiteer organizations like FreedomWorks and Americans for Prosperity. ThinkProgress attended today’s rally and spotted a sign threatening violence if health care passes. The sign reads: “Warning: If Brown can’t stop it, a Browning can,” referring to Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) and a Browning firearm[.]
(You can see the lovely signs at the THINK PROGRESS link)
From CQ POLITICS (yesterday):
House Republicans may be on the verge of losing their long fight against the Democratic health care overhaul, but GOP leaders were all smiles on Saturday as protesters from the anti-reform tea party movement swarmed the Capitol complex.
At an afternoon meeting of the House Republican Conference, Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) encouraged Members to reach out to a list of Democrats who still have not yet decided whether they will vote for the health care reform bill.
Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) congratulated his colleagues on their efforts over the past few weeks but reminded them the fight was not over.
But the Republican rallying cries inside the meeting were nothing compared to the crowd of tea party movement protesters that gathered outside of the conference room.
House Republican leaders received a rock star’s welcome when they emerged from their meeting, as about 100 tea party activists cheered the GOP effort to block the health care reform bill.
“There’s Pence!” yelled one woman as Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) approached the stakeout microphones.
“There’s Cantor!” another woman said, as the Republican Whip took his turn to speak to the cameras.
As Boehner exited the Cannon Building after the press conference, protesters lined the street clapping and cheering as the Minority Leader worked the crowd, his black security SUV rolling slowly beside him on the street.
Boehner was not the only Republican to receive a warm welcome from those gathered on the Capitol grounds to protest the health care reform bill.
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) was greeted similarly with cheers as she addressed a large crowd of protesters, who had begun to fill the West Front of the Capitol on Saturday morning.
“We are just getting started!” she said. “Hey, Speaker Pelosi! I think you are in trouble,” she added.
Ya think so, Batshit Bachmann?
From THE HILL:
Nobody condones the racial epithets used toward black lawmakers on Saturday, the second-ranking House Republican said Sunday.
House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) disavowed the actions by some conservative, “Tea Party” activists who, on Sunday, used the N-word toward Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), and spat at Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.).
“Nobody condones that at all,” Cantor said during an appearance on ABC.
The actions toward the protesters drew quick rebukes from members of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Democrats as a whole.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), a gay lawmaker who also faced epithets yesterday based on his sexual orientation, called on the GOP to distance itself from the protesters, while Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) denounced Republican speakers at the rally and demanded they apologize for the actions of the protesters.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who was one of the speakers at the rally, said he decried the behavior of the protesters “in the strongest terms.”
House Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Sunday On NBC Meet the Press that the “isolated incidents” at the rally on Saturday were “reprehensible.”
Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said Sunday on NBC Meet the Press that the incidents were the result of “a handful of people “who just got stupid.”
Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said that he welcomed debate on Sunday, but pleaded with Pence to ratchet down the tone of the debate.