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WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from Florida turned to email on Tuesday to call a Democratic colleague from the state “vile, despicable and cowardly” after she called into question his stance on Medicare during the debate over a spending cap and balanced budget bill before the House.

Rep. Allen West, a first-term Republican from south Florida, wasn’t shy about his online outburst. He sent his peppery email to numerous lawmakers as well as his target, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee.

The subject line of the email: “Unprofessional and Inappropriate Sophomoric Behavior from Wasserman Schultz.”

The e-mail said: “Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me. Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up.”

In her remarks on the House floor, Wasserman Schultz said: “The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries. Unbelievable from a member from south Florida.”

She was alluding to a GOP-backed bill to reduce the debt and amend the Constitution to require a balanced federal budget. The House later approved the bill 234-190, but it is unlikely to pass the Democratic Senate.

In his email, West said Wasserman Schultz has proven “that you are not a Lady” and “shall not be afforded due respect from me!” He said he was alerting House leaders to her “heinous characterless behavior.”

A spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, Jonathan Beeton, said in an email of his own: “I don’t think that Congressman West is upset at the congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class. … The truth hurts.”

West’s office did not back off the criticism after the email was widely distributed. A spokeswoman said Wasserman Schultz had taken “another cowardly cheap shot at Congressman West.”


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