Following a weekend of intense debate and protests on the health care bill, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) used a Tuesday meeting with reporters to urge both sides of the aisle to exercise some self-restraint. “Members of Congress ought not act like some people acted in town meetings. That is not good for our democracy. It is not good for the civility of our democracy.”
Hoyer said members should not have stood with protest signs on the balcony of the Capitol building nor applauded when a demonstrator attempted to disrupt proceedings on the floor by shouting “kill the bill.” He cautioned members about the signal that kind of behavior sends to the citizenry, noting such actions are, “(N)ot a good lesson for those who are watching us who may not have the restraint that hopefully adults in the Congress of the United States have.”
The Leader singled out the infamous “baby killer” outburst made by Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX) as a particularly egregious breech of decorum, but accepted his written apology and did not recommend that Rep. Neugebauer take to the floor to apologize.
Both sides of the aisle, according to the Majority Leader, could use a lesson from Miss Manners, “It would be appropriate for the leadership to caution members on both sides of the aisle to realize that conducting ourselves in a way that’s a positive reflection of legitimate differences… is much more productive than to inflame people who might not be as restrained.”
Democracy is about discussion and debate Hoyer declared, “not confrontation for confrontation’s sake.”