The Search is on for Stupak ‘Baby-Killer’ Heckler
March 22, 2010
(ChattahBox)—Last night on the House floor, as pro-life Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) rose to speak out against the Republicans’ “motion to recommit” a lawmaker, thought to be a Texas Republican, shouted out the words “baby killer.” The offensive heckling reverberated throughout the massive chamber, hearkening back to the most infamous GOP House heckler, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), who was censured for shouting “You lie” to the President of the United States during a televised joint session of Congress. The “baby killer” shout capped off a day-long contentious Sunday session of the House, with a crowd of unruly teapartiers shouting outside the Capitol building, “kill the bill,” interspersed by a chorus of “Nancy, Nancy.” Democratic lawmakers blamed the riotous behavior on Republican members whipping the tea party crowd into a frenzy, while adopting the same unruly tone as they entered the House chamber.
After Democratic House members passed the Senate health reform bill, two votes remained: the vote on the package of the reconciliation fixes and a Republican “motion to recommit,” to reintroduce the abortion amendment co-sponsored by Reps. Stupak and Joseph Pitts (R-PA), which was added to the original House health reform bill and replaced in the Senate with compromise abortion language agreed to, by pro-life Sen. Ben Nelson(D-NE).
The GOP “motion to recommit,” was an underhanded tactic to play on the fears of pro-life lawmakers in an attempt to kill the bill. But Stupak, one of the more vocal pro-life House members, was satisfied with the compromise reached with President Obama’s promise to issue an executive order further clarifying that no federal funding would be used for abortion services. As Stupak rose to speak, to condemn the Republicans’ motion as against the sanctity of life, when the result would be depriving 32 million people of medical care, Republicans shouted him down, screaming: “It’s your bill!”
When the Speaker finally restored order to allow Stupak to continue speaking, the shout of “Baby Killer” was heard.” A Democrat was heard, saying “Who said that?!”
At first, reporters thought Rep. John Campbell (R-CA) was to blame, but he denied it and told reporters the shouter’s identity was known by Republican leaders, and he was a Texas Republican with a Southern accent. Rep. David Obey (D-WI), who was acting as Speaker, said he knows the identity of the heckler, but declined to out him. “Members have a right to make an idiot of themselves once without being exposed,” he said.
Campbell said, “It was on the floor, but it wasn’t very far behind me.” “But it was definitely on the floor, but it wasn’t me. I don’t think it’s appropriate at all,” he added.
Talking Points Memo, along with every other news outlet today, have been trying to track down the “baby killer” heckler. Rep. Dale Kildee (D-MI) told TPM, “We all heard it. It was disgusting!” “No one knows who it was but the person should be censured. This all started when someone yelled “you lie’ at the president,” said Kildee. And Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) heard the offensive shout, but declined to reveal the lawmaker responsible for it. “I can make a guess,” Barton told reporters.
So far, according to Think Progress, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has denied that he said it. “I have no idea who yelled it because they were seated behind me and the House was packed,” he said. “Whoever said it was obviously upset, but it was inappropriate for them to yell that.” Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA) also denied heckling Stupak.
Barney Frank (D-MA) Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, who was subjected to homophobic slurs from the tea party mob, on both Saturday and Sunday, condemned the Republican heckler and pointed the finger at GOP leaders for condoning unruly tea party behavior in Congress.
“The difference between some of the Republicans and some of their raucous followers appears to be, unfortunately, diminishing,” Frank said. “Obviously, that’s not the whole party, but there’s a disturbing tendency to forget about civility.”
Predictably, extremist right-wing Republican Reps. Michele Bachmann (MN) and Tom Price (GA) denied that the heckler was a GOP House member and attributed the shout to a visitor in the gallery. Price declined to condemned the offensive heckling.
On Saturday, Both Bachmann and Price spoke before the tea party crowd and whipped them into a frenzied mob, with fearmongering and false statements about healthcare reform. Later, a group of unhinged teapartiers hurled racial epithets at Democratic black lawmakers, spat at another Black lawmaker and verbally attacked Rep. Frank with gay slurs.
(Update: The “baby killer” heckler has been identified as Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-TX). He issued a statement of apology, blaming his outburst on “the heat and emotion of the debate.” He has also apologized to his pro-life colleague Rep. Bart Stupak.