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Updated: 1:57 p.m.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Monday hit back at protesters aiming to derail town halls on health care, calling their efforts un-American.
These disruptions are occurring because opponents are afraid not just of differing views, but of the facts themselves. Drowning out opposing views is simply un-American, Pelosi and Hoyer say in a USA Today opinion piece.
The top two House Democrats say protesters tactics are part of an ugly campaign to misrepresent health care reform and prevent lawmakers from talking with constituents. Tactics have included hanging in effigy a Maryland Democratic Member and displaying a tombstone sign bearing the name of Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas).
Despite the disruptions, Pelosi and Hoyer say Members will continue hosting local events. The leaders commit to passing a final House bill in September.
We are confident that our principles of affordable, quality health care will stand up to any and all critics, say Pelosi and Hoyer.
Firing back, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said it is outrageous and reprehensible that Pelosi and Hoyer would dismiss people as un-American who vocally oppose their health care plan.
For months, House Democratic leaders have worked to silence any opposing views in this health care debate, Boehner said in a statement. The fact is Democrats have not been able to address the very real concerns the American people have.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) said the Democratic leaders comments were offensive.
There is nothing more American than letting your elected representatives know how you feel about important issues facing the nation, Pence said on Fox News.
The National Republican Congressional Committee also seized on Pelosis and Hoyers comments. The group issued a press release in 54 Democrats districts saying their party has become desperate and resorted to ridiculing, alienating, and attempting to censor their own constituents.
Democrats targeted by the NRCC include House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (Wis.), freshmen Reps. Gerry Connolly (Va.) and Kathy Dahlkemper (Pa.), and Blue Dog Reps. Allen Boyd (Fla.) and Bart Stupak (Mich.).