Menu
Home

Politics

House of Representatives

Democrats Give Wilson Ultimatum: Apology or Punishment

Wilson shouts 'you lie!'

House Democratic leaders announced Friday they will discipline Republican Rep. Joe Wilson next week if he does not apologize on the floor of the House for yelling "You lie" at President Obama during Wednesday's joint address to Congress.

Democrats say they do not know what the sanction will be, but it is doubtful it will be censure. Censure in the House is a type of reprimand. Another alternative is an official rebuke.

At the time of Wilson's outburst, the president was announcing that his health care reform bill does not cover illegal immigrants, a position that Wilson apparently didn't believe.

The episode shocked lawmakers of both parties. Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stared daggers in Wilson's direction after the shout.

The discipline will not come until Tuesday at the earliest. The full House votes on the resolution. If the House approves the resolution, Wilson will then stand in the well of the House as his punishment is meted out by Pelosi, presiding from the dais.

This decision is a reversal by the speaker, who told FOX News after the speech she saw no need for discipline. At her weekly news conference Thursday, Pelosi reiterated that stance and said she wanted to move forward with health care.

But Democrats changed course Thursday afternoon after a leadership meeting in Pelosi's office.

"Democrats say the insult clearly violated House rules of decorum. Therefore, the issue needs to be resolved on the House floor, either via apology or resolution," said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly.

The House rules state that lawmakers may not accuse the president of "lying" or being a "liar."

Wilson rejected three requests to apologize on the House floor Thursday. He apologized twice after the speech. One was a general, written apology. He also issued a mea culpa by phone to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. The president said Thursday he accepted and appreciated the apology.