March 26th, 2010
08:09 PM ET
13 years ago

Wild Week on Capitol Hill

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.

Filed under: Capitol Hill • Health care
soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. lasparky11

    The goal of Congressman King is to make the rich richer, the poor poorer and what's left of the middle class to pay for it. As long as the big corporations are making money & giving themselves outlandish bonus the GOP is happy. By the way Congressman look socialism up in the dictionary your using it wrong. The violence that the protesters are doing is your fault why bother condemning it. It is what you wanted isn't it?

    March 26, 2010 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  2. jojomcgee

    When Democrats carry out something that is radically close to a coup they should expect the people to fight back.

    Mr. Obama's twenty year close association with William Ayers continues to this day despite Ayers' bombing of the U.S. capitol. Mr. Obama would not qualify as a member of the Secret Service because he is such a security risk.

    March 26, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  3. Danny

    This is the violent BS we don't need our elected officials to engage in. When you look at history our legislators are portrayed as being dignified and sometimes even wise, but this current bunch is a total embarassment. If our leaders can't even pretend to get along how can the rest of the country find a way to peacefully coexist?

    March 26, 2010 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  4. Randi L.

    Rep. Steve King – yet another GOP poster child for infantile behavior. I'm convinced that a lot of congressmen get elected because their campaign photo makes them look distinguished and respectable in a suit, but in reality they are little boys who never grew up.

    The contempt that Rep. King, and Rep. Neugebauer, and Rep. Wilson show toward colleagues with differing views exemplifies why nothing gets done in DC. Too many of their kind of petty, inconsequential, back-bench bomb throwers and not enough statesmen.

    March 26, 2010 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  5. HypocriCNNoises!

    Thank You Reverand Jesse Jackson Sr. For Your Remarks, You Were Right On The Money! Republicans Are Clearly The Instigators In These Fear Mongering Tactics, And The Media Knows It. Some Unfortunately Are Dispicably Try To Find Or Create Rationale!

    March 26, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  6. Denna

    I think that the Tea Party nuts have had enough press. It is time for the REAL Americans, the Coffee Party, to speak up. Contrary to Tea Party opinion, the majority of Americans DO WANT THE HEALTH CARE BILL. Most real Americans are just one illness away from financial ruin. The people who don't want the bill to go through are stupid enough to fight against a policy that is in their own best interests. That would be the Tea Party. You don't like the bill because President Obama is black, not because the bill is no good. Idiots!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 26, 2010 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  7. diridi

    be strong...GOP will do any nasty thing...ok, they are thugs.....create all the mess...

    March 26, 2010 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  8. Henry Miller, Libertarian, Cary, NC

    Congress egregiously betrayed the express desires of a majority of the American people–yes, the fight is far from over.

    March 26, 2010 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  9. Preston kathy

    Funny how it took a nice black man and a wonderful family to beat the spoiled repukelians mean bullies with out saying a cuss word

    March 26, 2010 09:52 pm at 9:52 pm |
  10. AFR531

    Americans are not going to vote in 2010 or any other election cycle -for the republican stragedy of "repeal and steal" when it comes to our rights under the new health care laws. Changes can and should be made to strengthen these rights.

    March 26, 2010 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  11. Desmond in Canada

    Observing from outside, this Steve King individual is clearly a symptom of the chronically festering social DNA of the Republican Party made more sick by the bunch of pretenders who claim to be Christian. "Hollow sepulchres full of dead men's bones" is how, I believe, Jesus would describe them. Sad. Very sad for the USA.

    March 26, 2010 10:34 pm at 10:34 pm |
  12. harold

    The Republican smart game they think is to go for Repeal.. It ain't smart Republicans it is goona be a trap for you and I predicted it a year ago and will stick you with repeal all the way..

    March 26, 2010 11:04 pm at 11:04 pm |
  13. Jin

    The more these wing nuts are out in the open the more obvious who and what they are. They wouldn't know democracy if it bit them in the ass [which, by the way, it just did].

    March 27, 2010 12:07 am at 12:07 am |
  14. gplyer1st

    His goal is to create civil unrest because they are losing everything and it is only going to get worse.

    March 27, 2010 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  15. Walter

    All that Republicans have managed to demonstrate this week is that they are unfit to govern. We shouldn't have needed the demonstration, after eight years of disaster at home and abroad.

    But, perhaps, people will now be able to remember why they turned their backs on the Republicans to begin with.

    March 27, 2010 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  16. Scooter 519

    As an observer from outside your boarders I find your fear of socialism peculiar. Canada has a national health system and we do not have a socialist gov. Asa matter of fact we have a flat to the wall conservative gov. Our Prime minister is an egg head. The lunacy heard around the world from the US presently is baffling. The Repubs. had a chance to negotiate and they chose to create hell! David Frum said it well, they went for the total package and came away with nothing. Why do people lie when they are put in their place. Grow up you rich old wind bags and start to have some social responsibility. All you are interested in is your pocket book. You likely have millions invested in Wall Street. Ya King is concerned about a fair fight just like Palin is . Don't they realize people have a brain

    March 27, 2010 01:16 am at 1:16 am |