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A spike in security threats in the wake of the House health care vote continued to rattle Democratic Members on Wednesday, with several accusing Republican leaders of stoking an already incendiary environment.
More than 10 House Democrats have alerted leaders to abuse or threats since the Sunday vote, according to Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), adding that any lawmakers at risk are getting attention from the proper authorities. Federal law enforcement was reportedly investigating threats to at least two lawmakers.
The No. 2 House Democrat suggested Wednesday that GOP leaders could be doing more to tamp down the fervor of some anti-reform activists. I would hope that we would join together jointly and make it very clear that none of us condone this kind of activity, and when we see it, that we speak out strongly in opposition to it, he said. I would hope that we would do that going forward.
Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.), appearing on MSNBC, accused Republicans of aiding and abetting this kind of terrorism.
But GOP leaders defended their record as they offered fresh denunciations of violent threats. It is not the American way, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Fox News. Yes, I know there is anger, but lets take that anger and go out and register people to vote, go volunteer on a political campaign, and lets do it the right way.
And his deputy, Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said party leaders have acted responsibly to disavow extreme reactions to the health care reform overhaul. Ive already said that no one defends that kind of behavior, and we should not have that kind of behavior, Cantor told Roll Call. We are a civil country, expecting civil discourse. When you engage in racial epithets, when you engage in violence, no one defends that.
The back-and-forth came as threats to House Democrats continued to pile up.
Authorities are investigating the cutting of a gas line to a grill at Rep. Tom Perriellos (D-Va.) brothers house on Tuesday, the lawmakers office confirmed Wednesday. The incident came after a tea party organizer posted the home address of the lawmakers brother on a blog, believing it was Perriellos, and encouraging tea party activists to drop by.
Reps. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) had their district offices vandalized. Slaughter, the Rules Committee chairwoman, was much maligned during the health care debate as the architect of the Slaughter solution, or the Democratic leaders proposal that, if employed, would have allowed Members to avoid a separate vote on the Senate health care bill. Slaughter said a voice mail referencing snipers was left on the answering machine at her campaign office.
Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.), an anti-abortion advocate who helped broker a compromise on the matter in the overhaul, reported receiving death threats as did freshman Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio).
Clyburn said that he got a handwritten fax scrawled with a racial slur and a drawing of a noose and that his wife has received threatening phone calls. This worries me about as much as where the next meal is going to come from, Clyburn said, though he added that he was concerned about other Democrats.