The House of Representatives on Tuesday formally admonished Republican Rep. Joe Wilson for shouting “you lie” during President Obama’s speech to a joint session of Congress last week.
The House passed a resolution of disapproval on a 240-179 vote that was mostly along party lines, reflecting the Democratic majority in the chamber. Five representatives voted “present.”
According to the Office of the House Historian, it was the first time in its 220-year history that the House has disciplined a member for speaking out during a presidential speech in the chamber to a joint session of Congress.
During debate on the resolution Tuesday, Wilson called the measure a waste of time and failed to offer an apology to the chamber as demanded by House Democrats.
“When we are done here today, we will not have taken any further steps toward helping” the nation deal with urgent challenges, said Wilson, a South Carolina Republican. “It is time that we move forward and get back to work for the American people.”
[12:15 p.m. 9/15/2009] – Black Congressmen Lead Push To Formally Reprimand Joe Wilson
From the Washington Post:
House Democrats plan to formally reprimand Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) on Tuesday for his outburst last week in which he accused President Obama of lying about proposed health-care legislation.
The vote on punishment will resolve the issue in the House, but behind the incident some see a broader question: Is racism a factor in the way the president is being judged?
With two simple words — “You lie!” — shouted during Obama’s speech to Congress, Wilson helped escalate an issue that has been on a slow burn for weeks, especially among African Americans. Many watched the rancor at last month’s town hall meetings with suspicion that the intense anger among some participants — including signs calling for Obama’s death and a movement questioning his citizenship — was fueled by the fact that a black man sits in the Oval Office.
Led by their most senior black lawmakers, House Democrats decided Monday evening to hold the vote. The decision risks escalating the partisan warfare that has erupted since Wilson’s outburst.