Breach of Decorum in the House of Representatives

Breach of Decorum in the House of Representatives. Congressional Record: September 10, 2009 (House of Representatives) Page H9417. DOCID:cr10se09-111.

The interruption by Congressman Joe Wilson. (September 9, 2009).


  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the
gentlewoman from Texas (Ms. Jackson-Lee) is recognized for 5 minutes.
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, just a moment of good news
that tells the American people that their government is working. I look
forward to holding my job fair number two in Houston, Texas, where it
has been voted that Houston has the highest unemployment rate of our
State, the State of Texas, at the Georgia R. Brown Convention Center in
conjunction with the City of Houston, where we will be hosting private
employers, local government and State and Federal Government because
the stimulus dollars are working and the American people want us to
create jobs.
  Then we will have an opportunity to celebrate in my district the
gospel music heritage legislation that myself and the Senator from
Arkansas passed, Senator Blanche Lincoln, to commemorate America's
great history in gospel music. We will be at the Grace Community Church
on Friday, September 18, at 7:30.
  I say that because there is a reason to be joyful in America. It's a
great country, and that is why I pause now for a serious moment to
reflect on 9/11 and to offer, again, my deepest sympathy and concern
for those families and victims and just to remind Americans that we
will never forget.
  What brings me here today, to take all of that good news or all of
that recognition that we are one country not divided by Republicanism
or being a Democrat or an independent, but we are one family, loving
our values and loving our democracy, makes me come today with a very
saddened heart. For yesterday the President of the United States rose
before this body and offered in the most poignant but kindest and
firmest way an extended hand to work and to collaborate with Americans
and those who represent Americans in this body. And I have had the
privilege of hearing a number of Presidents speak to the Nation from
this place.
  And let me say to you that when a President comes here, he is a guest
of this body. It is not Republicans and Democrats, it is the United
States Congress. For the President's cabinet is here, the Senate is
here. In some instances, the Supreme Court is here. Members are here
from all over the country. Our guests are here as well.
  And each time a President has come, whether or not I have an
emotional opposition and a reasoned opposition to the position that
they may be making, I hold their presence in reverence and respect.
Last night my heart weighted with sadness, for as we spoke to the
American people, adults, those of us who are elected, we found the
highest level of disregard and disrespect.
  Not only was there a shout-out, albeit the First Amendment is
protected, there is a reasonable response of those elected to high
public office that when the President stands, not the President the
Democrat, or the Republican, but the President of the United States, I
can say this, because I denounced the throwing of a shoe at our
President on foreign soil, of any kind. I denounced the seeming
tolerance of President Bush having a shoe thrown at him. It is horrific
and a disgrace.
  Just as I denounce holding up papers while the President is speaking.
That happened last night. Just as I denounce having a sign in your lap,
which we are not allowed to wear buttons expressing viewpoint. That
happened last night.
  Just as I denounce words coming out calling the President a liar. It
should be denounced by the leadership of my good friends on the other
side. This is not an individual act. It should be denounced as
inappropriate decorum in this place.
  And for those who wish to be equally rude by holding up something,
let me suggest that it is a free country. And I do appreciate,
sometimes we make mistakes, I admit to mistakes. We have to clarify
those mistakes. But I believe it is important to clarify it so the
President of the United States' ears can hear it and so this body can
hear it.
  And I would hope my friends on the other side of the aisle, the
leadership, will come to this well next week and acknowledge that this
place should be a place of decorum. Yes, Members have turned their
backs, some Members have walked out. That is their privilege. We do not
have a despotic Nation, and they have the privilege to do so, if they
disagree with the words being spoken by the President of the United
States. But remember, he or she is our guest. And when you invite
someone into your home, you treat them with the highest level of
  I am not angry. I am simply saddened and disappointed, because so
many of my friends on the other side of the aisle expressed their own
disappointment, but somewhat in silence. It is important for the
American people to know that whoever the President is, no matter where
they come from, what background, what region, what State, they are the
President of the United States.
  The President told the truth last night, and the other side must tell
the truth about inappropriate behavior and the lack of reverence. We
need to respect each other, and I call for that.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).