Washington (CNN) – A slew of adjectives come to mind to describe the past week on Capitol Hill: historic, intense, passionate and exhausting, to name a few. We saw Democrats finally reach their goal that for so long seemed so out of reach, and outnumbered Republicans giving their arguments against sweeping reform as the wrong prescription for what all agree is an ailing system.
This last leg of the health care marathon brought a slew of citizens to the Capitol. Unfortunately, some of the protests had nothing to do with health care – calling a civil rights icon the 'N' word, and hurling a slur at an openly gay congressman. There were also thousands of peaceful protesters genuinely exercising their precious right to demonstrate, to call on Congress not to pass health care legislation they vehemently oppose.
At one point during the weekend of House health care votes, several House Republicans went onto the balcony of the Capitol to show solidarity with the demonstrators. One of those GOP congressmen, Steve King of Iowa, was captured by our cameras holding a picture of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He gave a thumbs down, but then began to swipe the face of her picture, even appearing to slap it.
In an interview with King. I asked him to explain what appeared to be offensive gestures.
He called that description an exaggeration.
"My goal is to inspire people to stand up for the Constitution, stand up for fiscal responsibility, and stand up for the rule of law," said King, "This bill is an affront to the Constitution."
When I asked again how he would describe it, he said it was “a melodrama” and that there were “a lot of things that were going on that day.”
At the end of a television piece I did about the issue, I said that King walked away before we could get him to explain further. However, the congressman was leaving to cast a vote in the House chamber. I should have been clear about his reason for leaving, and that he would have come back had we asked him to.
I did report, and it’s worth repeating, that King unequivocally condemned threats of violence or vandalism aimed at any of his colleagues.
And when it comes to the protests over the weekend, he said all he saw were "the best and cleanest and most tasteful people you could ask for, the kind of people that I would find at my church picnic were here."
Well, lawmakers back home for spring break are going to be attending a lot of church picnics, town hall meetings, and more over the next two weeks.
After months of defending an unfinished piece of business, Democrats left town eager to finally have something to sell. And Republicans are already on the road to try to repeal the new health care law. Lawsuits have been filed in court, and Rep. King ended the week by introducing repeal legislation.
In a parting press release King called the bill “creeping socialism.”
“The Pelosi Democrats will pay a price for their overreach,” said King.
In all my years covering Congress, plenty of issues have stirred passion – from immigration to abortion. But, like it or not, few pieces of legislation have had as much of a direct affect on Americans’ every day lives.
“This fight is far from over,” said King.
Alas, something both sides would agree is true.