WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joined with Majority Whip James Clyburn today in introducing a resolution disapproving of the conduct by Rep. Joe Wilson (SC-2) during the joint session of Congress, September 9, 2009. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“None of us is happy to be here considering the resolution before us. I know I am not. At the same time, what is at issue here is of importance to this House and to our country. And that issue is whether we are able to proceed with a degree of civility and decorum that our rules and our democracy contemplate and require.
“The House Code of Conduct requires that each Member of this house ‘conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.’
“There seems to be little or no disagreement that Mr. Wilson did not so conduct himself on the evening of September 9th. Sen. John McCain was quoted as saying that Mr. Wilson’s behavior ‘totally disrespectful.’ He went on to say that ‘There is no place for it in that setting, or any other, and he should apologize for it immediately.’
“Mr. Wilson did, in fact, apologize to the President through Mr. Emanuel, the President’s Chief of Staff.
“However, it was the House itself whose rules were offended. And, as Mr. Inglis, Mr. Wilson’s Republican colleague from South Carolina observed: ‘He should apologize to [the] House for [the] rule violation. That would end the matter.’
“I know that is what the Republican leaders of this House thought would be appropriate and what the Republican leader talked to Mr. Wilson about doing. Indeed, last Thursday, based on what a Republican leader told me that morning, it was what I expected Mr. Wilson to do. As a result, I held open the next to last vote to give Mr. Wilson an opportunity to express an apology to the House, as a number of Members have done on previous occasions.
“Mr. Inglis is correct. That would have ended the matter. However, for whatever reason, Mr. Wilson has decided not to take any further action. In light of that, this resolution simply states the House’s ‘disapproval’ of Mr. Wilson’s words and actions.
“As Republican Whip Cantor is quoted as saying: ‘Obviously, the President of the United States is always welcome on Capitol Hill. He deserves respect and decorum.’
“And the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, added: ‘I think we ought to treat the President with respect, and anything other than that is not appropriate.’
“This resolution is not about the substance of an issue but about the conduct we expect of one another in the course of doing our business. As Sen. John Cornyn, the Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, stated: ‘There’s a time and a place for everything, and that was not the time or the place for that kind of comment.’
“In the absence of Mr. Wilson’s expressing his regret for acting in a manner that almost all agree was both contrary to the spirit of the rules of this House and the common courtesy we should extend to all, and particularly the President of the United States, we have brought forward this resolution.
“We consider it as a result of Mr. Wilson’s failure to follow the advice of his leadership and a number of his Republican and Democratic colleagues.
“The resolution says simply what hopefully all of us feel: that we ‘disapprove’ of the conduct cited and let others know that such conduct is neither welcome nor approved by this, the People’s House.”