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Pelosi confronts GOP congressman in rancorous House debate

A heated debate late Friday over security at the southern U.S. border led to a rancorous confrontation on the House floor between House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa.

The dustup began when Marino accused Democrats of neglecting the immigration issue when they controlled the White House and Congress in 2009 and 2010, when Pelosi was House speaker, saying that the party is now exploiting the issue for political gains.

“Under the leadership of the former speaker … in 2009 and 2010, they had the House, the Senate and the White House, and they knew this problem existed,” Marino said. “They didn’t have the strength to go after it back then. But now are trying to make a political issue out of it now.”

Soon after he made the remarks, Pelosi, in full view of House cameras, walked across the chamber to the GOP side of the aisle -- a rarity in the House -- to challenge Marino.

It was not clear what Pelosi said, but Marino responded immediately.

"It's true, madam leader, I did the research on it," Marino said. "You might want to try it. You might want to try it, madam leader. Do the research on it. Do the research. I did it. That's one thing that you don't do."

Reps. Ted Poe, R-Texas, Joe Barton, R-Texas, and Kay Granger, R-Texas, seated behind Marino, looked stunned at Pelosi's actions. The presiding officer, Rep. Randy Hultgren, R-Ill., told Marino to direct his comments through the chair and not at a fellow member.

"Well, it works both ways," Marino said.

After things seemed to calm down, Marino said, "Apparently, I hit the right nerve."

Pelosi then walked briskly across the chamber, making a beeline for Marino and shaking her finger at the congressman.

Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y., could be heard saying off-camera, "What is she doing?"

After he was done speaking, Pelosi then pursued Marino through the chamber, and House chamber security was seen walking through the chamber.

The House then voted 223-189 in favor of a $694 million border supplemental bill.

Marino and Pelosi apparently spoke afterwards.

Pelosi spokeswoman Evangeline George told The Hill that Pelosi "just wanted to remind the congressman that House Democrats had the courage to pass the DREAM Act -- and have the courage to stand up for what the American people want: bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform."  

She said that Pelosi accepted Marino's apology.

Marino told reporters afterward that he told Pelosi that his remarks were not meant to be personal or directed specifically toward her, The Hill reported. And a staffer said Marino did not apologize and does not intend to apologize.

Marino later took to Twitter to comment on the confrontation.

“Rep. Pelosi called me an 'insignificant person' on the Floor of the House. I'll ponder that for a while driving to Williamsport tonight. Of course I'll be driving myself, with no staff or security. And I'm just a country lawyer who worked in a bakery until he was 30,” he said in three separate tweets.