Thursday, September 10, 2009

From USA Today: Outburst during speech 'regrettable'

WASHINGTON — President Obama's address on health care policy has already produced a moment that veteran members of Congress called unprecedented, and one that illustrates the opposition the president faces.
Midway through the speech, as the president was defending his plan to a chamber packed with members of Congress, Rep. Joe Wilson, a South Carolina Republican, shouted, "You lie!"

Senior Republicans, including Obama's opponent in last year's election, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., quickly called for him to apologize. About 90 minutes after Obama finished, Wilson issued a statement saying he had "let my emotions get the best of me."

Wilson's office said the congressman called the White House Wednesday night to apologize personally to Obama. He was connected to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, a former House colleague. In a statement, Wilson said he conveyed his apologies to Emanuel but neither the White House nor the congressman's office provided details of the conversation.

Wilson's outburst came as Obama was decrying claims that his plan would cover illegal immigrants as false. The remark was clearly audible on the floor and the galleries above. "Heads snapped," said House Rules Committee Chairwoman Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y. "I've been here a long time," added the New York Democrat, a 23-year House veteran. "I've never heard anyone accost a president like that."

Rep. David Dreier, of California, the top-ranking Republican on the House Rules Committee, had a similar reaction. "I cringed," he said. "I think it's just unfortunate."

Wilson, in his fifth term, told a town-hall-style meeting last month that bipartisanship is key to resolving the nation's health care problems. "I give a speech every day on the floor (of Congress) about how Democrats and Republicans should be working together to reform health care," The State newspaper in South Carolina quoted Wilson as saying.

Members of both parties expressed incredulity and distress. Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., told the Gannett Washington Bureau, "I do not appreciate" Wilson's outburst.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said Rob Miller, a former Marine who is challenging Wilson for re-election next year, raised more than $100,000 in campaign contribution's since the congressman's outburst. Wilson, who took office in 2001, won re-eleciton last year with 54% of the vote. He's a staunch conservative but he broke with former president George W. Bush over the Iraq war.

Immediate reaction to the president's speech showed little shifting of partisan lines.

Jay Timmons, the executive vice president of National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement that he remains concerned the president's plan will "increase costs and threaten economic recovery."

One of the Republicans who has been friendliest to Obama's proposals, Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine, expressed disappointment at the president's defense of the "public option," a plan to provide a government-backed insurance plan to compete with private companies. "I would have preferred that the issue were taken off the table," Snowe said.

No comments:

This is a Rural Blog that provides views & insights from a Conservative Georgia Democrat

Blog Archive