House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer expressed dismay Tuesday over an incident last week in which a stenographer began shouting on the House floor about Freemasons.
The Maryland Democrat emphasized that the incident — which occurred during the vote to end the government shutdown — appeared isolated and had no bearing on the safety of the chamber.
"I know Dianne," Hoyer said of Dianne Reidy, a fixture of House floor proceedings who frequently was seen on C-SPAN cameras with her stenotype in front of the dais. "She's a very nice lady, you talk to any member who knows her, and staffers.
"She's a delightful human being," he continued, "and I don't think there was a danger to anybody on the floor."
Hoyer acknowledged that he didn't know her very well, but said Reidy is someone of whom he was "very fond."
"I'm very sad about this incident," he said.
On Oct. 16, as House members cast their final votes for a compromise bill to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling, Reidy suddenly stood up, went to a microphone on the dais and began shouting about God, the Freemasons and a House divided.
“He will not be mocked. He will not be mocked. Don’t touch me. He will not be mocked. The greatest deception here is this is not ‘one nation under God.’ It never was. Had it been, it would not have been … no … it would not have been,” she yelled as Capitol Police dragged her from the House floor.
“The Constitution would not have been written by Freemasons. They go against God,” she said. ”You cannot serve two masters. You cannot serve two masters. Praise be to God. Lord Jesus Christ.”
Reidy was transported to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation. She was not arrested by Capitol Police.
On Tuesday, Hoyer was asked by a reporter whether outbursts like Reidy's threatened not just the security of the House floor, but the precedent that the chamber is a "sanctum" from disruption and disarray.
Hoyer referenced a now-famous incident from 1856 in which South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks stormed the Old Senate Chamber and violently attacked Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner with a cane.
"I wouldn't extrapolate from this incident," Hoyer said. "I've been here 33 years. All the other outbursts have come from members."
It is not yet clear whether Reidy will return to work on Capitol Hill.
Matt Fuller contributed to this report.