Pelosi Won’t Call on Grayson to Apologize

Posted October 1, 2009 at 11:05am

Updated: 3:24 p.m.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Thursday called for both parties to behave with more civility, but declined to call on Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) to apologize for saying Republicans want sick people to “die quickly— and are “foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals.—

Pelosi said Republicans appeared to be “holding Democrats to a higher level than they hold their own Members.—

“I hold everyone to a high standard. … If anybody is going to apologize, everyone should apologize.—

She then called on Members to bring the level of debate “to a plane that is worthy of the subject that we have at hand.—

She also said she wouldn’t be distracted by the comments.

“Republicans would like to use this as a distraction for the fact they have no plan,— she said.

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), head of the Republican Study Committee, said later that he had sent a letter to Pelosi asking her to take appropriate action to deal with the breakdown of civility in the Grayson case, and said he is not going to bring a privileged resolution of disapproval to the floor in order to give Pelosi a chance to take action.

Price contended that Democratic leaders have contributed greatly to the breakdown of decorum on the floor, and contended that Grayson’s charge went far beyond what appears to be a series of similar comments made by Republicans about the Democratic health care plan.

“What individuals on our side of the aisle have talked about are the consequences of what the Democratic plan will do,— Price said.

Pelosi later declined to say whether she would take any action or meet with Grayson to discuss his comments, saying she’s said all she planned to say on the subject.

“I usually don’t have conversations about my conversations with Members,— she said.

Republican leaders, meanwhile, sought to capitalize on the Grayson’s remarks, with the National Republican Congressional Committee setting up a new Web site, AlanDisGrayson.com, and launching a fundraising drive for the eventual Republican challenger for his seat.

Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Grayson should apologize but said it was up to Pelosi and the Democratic leadership to control the actions of their Caucus.

“I think it’s time for Democrat leaders, the Speaker of the House herself, to rein in the rhetoric that she decried just several weeks ago,— Boehner said. “If he’s not going to apologize to the American people and to Republicans, as he should really, it’s the Democrat leadership responsibility to have that conversation with their own Members.—

The White House on Thursday expressed displeasure with Grayson’s remarks but did not issue a call for an apology.

“I would simply reiterate what we’ve said on this a number of times – and I think this goes for anybody from whatever political party and whatever end of the political spectrum – that we ought to be able to have an honest, calm debate about health care, [and] the need for health care reform, without disparaging each other,— White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.