WASHINGTON (CNN) – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ripped congressional Republicans Thursday for holding Democrats to a higher standard in the rhetoric employed in the often acidic health care debate.
"Apparently Republicans are holding Democrats to a higher level than they hold their own members," she told reporters on Capitol Hill. "If anybody's going to apologize, everybody should apologize."
Pelosi made her remarks after being asked to comment on a controversial speech made earlier this week by Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson, who said on the House floor that Republican health care plans call for sick people to "die quickly."
GOP leaders charged Grayson with crossing a rhetorical line and demanded an apology. Grayson responded by apologizing not for his remarks, but for the government's failure to enact health care reform sooner.
"I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven't voted sooner to end this holocaust in America," he said. Grayson cited a Harvard University study released earlier this month that said 44,000 Americans die each year because they have no health insurance.
That prompted a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee to issue a stinging rebuke, saying that Grayson is "doubling down on his despicable remarks and he is dragging his party with him."
On Thursday, a top GOP legislative leader from Grayson's home state of Florida criticized Grayson for making light of the Jewish Holocaust during World War II.
"Regardless of one's position on the issue of health care reform, comparing the American health care system to the systematic murdering of over six million Jews is totally outrageous and unfit for someone holding public office," Florida House Majority Leader Adam Hasner said.
"Congressman Grayson should apologize to the Jewish community and the families of those whose loved ones were brutally executed. I'd also encourage Mr. Grayson to take a walk tomorrow afternoon to the U.S. Holocaust Museum so he can witness for himself just how offensive and inappropriate his statement is."
Pelosi in turn argued that Republicans regularly make statements about health care on the House floor "that relate to death." The "points have been made," she said. "Now it's time for us to keep the focus on health care."
Grayson - a Democrat who represents a central Florida swing district that includes Orlando - defended his recent remarks Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room."
"What I mean is they have got no plan," Grayson told Wolf Blitzer. "It's been 24 hours since I said that. Where is the Republican plan? We're all waiting to see something that will take care of the pre-existing conditions, to take care of the 40 million Americans who have no coverage at all.
"That's what I meant when I said that the Republican plan is don't get sick. And if you do get sick, die quickly."
Grayson said that Republicans he believes are obstructing health care reform are "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals."
Calling for universal health care, he slammed "whoever it is that's causing the Republicans to fight tooth-and-nail against anything, absolutely anything."
"Those are the people who are really disserving Americans," he said.
– CNN's Alexander Mooney contributed to this report.
Nancy Pelosi accuses someone else of having a "double standard?" That's the funniest thing I've ever heard. She's the queen of "double standard!"
Stop with all the apologies that mean nothing and get a good healthcare bill passed!!!
PUBLIC OPTION is the main concern – and without it no bill will pass.
At'a girl. Increase the devide between the parties so they will never be able to work together. What a clown. In order to help get your policies passed it is not wise to isolate almost 50% of the votes.
Pelosi is a fool!!! Go Away!!! You've been there too long anyway. Stop messing with our healthcare!
Actually we'd be better off if everyone forgot about the apology, stopped acting like children and focused on the work at hand. This entire thing is a national disgrace.
A Pox on both your houses!
Neither party has a right to claim the high ground here.
Both are just as vile, as mean-spirited and just as petty and pandering as the other.
Statesmanship is doing what is right for the country in a CIVILIZED manner.
If my kids behaved the way you people do, some rear-ends would be pretty warm right now.
"Repubs" are irrationals. All they want is no cooperation with Obama, not to build this country. They think as long as they make disturbances and Obama will not be reelected for the term, they are safe. What a revengeful people. International people are laughing their pants off not on Obama, but the "Repubs". Repubs has shown how irresponsible they are to this country and the world economy.
This is the woman that the Republicans said they would leave any disciplining of Grayson to handle. She has been investigating Charlie Rangel's tax cheating for a year now with no report. And yet she clearly stated the CIA lied to her. Absolutely worthless. This is the botoxed face of uncompromising partisanship and liberalism. Ain't it pretty. Impeachment is to good for her, We are now blessed with the worst speaker, president, vice president and senate majority leader the country has ever had and the libs wonder why the country is getting upset.
Pelosi should have gone further and called it what it is: hypocrisy.
We had eight years of hypocrisy under the Cheney Administration, and now we have an outraged bunch of right wing neocon nutjobs talking about "death panels" and pulling the plug on grandma, but they can't take the truth about their own health care proposal which is, in fact, "Don't get sick, and if you do, die quickly."
Madam Speaker please do not have Grayson apologize to the republicans. What he did was on the House floor as many a republican has done. He did NOT call out the President of the United States.
The Republicans have a plan. They've tried for over a year to introduce it into the committees' schedules but the Democrats refuse to admit it.
Grow up, Congressmen and Senators. Please! Just a few of you. The country wants and needs politicians who will put country over party.
Change? What change? I'm not seeing any of it. All I'm seeing is the same ol', same ol' from BOTH parties.
Thank you Madame Speaker!
Republicans are total wussies. Pelosi has bigger cajones than they do.
The Greedy Obstructionist Party has shown it's collective ugly side to the entire nation.
Look for a lot more change in 2010.
Blue Dogs had better beware also. 65% of the American people want the public option and those self-centered nuts are catering to the wealthy Insurance Executives.
Rep. Grayson is on the right track. I wish the rest of the Democratic Party would speak up to the backward rhetoric of the Republican Party. The Dems need to get together as a true party and back this important reform "now".
Americans deserve an apology from George W. Bush and Dick Cheney for 9/11 which was under their watch. George W. Bush and Dick Cheney need to apologize to Americans for lies that have killed more Americans in combat than 9/11. Since Republicans think they deserve an apology, I'll give them one the day we get one.
Oh just shut up !!
That a girl Nancy! I don't know how many of the GOP get on the floor of congress and have said the Dems plan wasn't pro life, how 1 in 5 people would die if we had a public option, so like Nancy said "everybody should apologize." Because we the people don't have reformed health care and people are dying from the lack of not having health care.
That is why I like Pelosi. Because she COULD CARE LESS OF WHAT YOU GOPS THINK OF HER. She's a TOUGH COOKIE and you RETHUGS HATE IT.
PS. I Know the rethugs is going to blow this site up and before you even say it . YOU DON'T HAVE THE POWER TO VOTE NOBODY OUT.
GO Pelosi, GO Grayson!
I would like for all the Republican congressmen and congresswomen who stood up and whined about death panels and pulling the plug on grandma to stand up and apologize before Rep. Grayson does. Hypocrits. Those fainting couches must be getting pretty worn out.
Nancy, Nancy, Nancy. You've made the Republicans apologize over and over again. Now, when your boy gets as angry as the health care protesters and spouts his own set of lies, you just turn your head and say it's not out fault – they did it first. Grow up and learn to eat crow.
Stating the gop has a double standard is actually an understatement. They have no standards. The party as a whole has the mentality of junior high students. If they're not actually interested in legislating, I wish they'd just step aside and let the adults do the business of the government – we'd be a whole lot better off without them.
and she is sooooooooooooo right
It's difficult to tell who had a double standard first, the Democrats or the Reublcans, doesn't really matter because they both do. Pelosi's talk about double standards is just a lot of double talk.
Perhaps Pelosi should appologize first for calling those who oppose her version of health care reform un-American mobs and Nazies. And she should appologize for her groundless claims that those opposed to her version of health care are stirring up hate and violence.
Until she oppologizers her self she is the Queen of double standards and has no crediblity on the issue. Total waste of time, zero leadership for the American pepole.
We Support you.
You are Correct.
Keep the GOP on Tenterhooks. They ruined America for their Idiocy in the last 8 Years.
Go Pelosi Go ---– You are the Best.