GOP Reps Rev Up Tea Partiers
Protests against health care reform erupted into ugliness—and House Republicans fanned the flames.
There have been some ugly scenes outside the Capitol this weekend as angry Tea Partiers have hurled racist and homophobic slurs at Democratic lawmakers who support health care reform. And on Sunday afternoon House Republicans cheered on these conservative activists from the balcony of the Capitol building.
Rep. Gresham Barrett, a South Carolina Republican, stood on the balcony to wave and cheer as the Tea Partiers chanted below. "These people came up to fight for what they think is right, and I support their position," Barrett said.
Yesterday there were reports that civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis had been called a "nigger" by protesters and that another black congressman had been spat on by a demonstrator. When asked what he thought of such incidents, Barrett simply responded: “I know emotions are running high.” He quickly added that he didn't condone “any kind of degradating [sic] activity," but said "it’s an emotional issue for a lot of people in America today.”
Barrett was joined by many of his Republican colleagues who walked out onto the balcony to show their solidarity with conservative activists as the House began its preliminary proceedings on the health care bill. Reps. Tom Latham, Jason Chaffetz, and Chris Lee held up handmade signs on notebook paper that read, "kill…the…bill." House Republican offices also hung up anti-health reform signs on the windows facing the plaza where the protestors were gathered.