Rep. Edwards: Censure Obama Heckler
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) may have reached out (perhaps reluctantly) to the White House to apologize for his headline-grabbing outburst during President Barack Obama's address to Congress Wednesday night, but that hasn't satisfied Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and others on the left.
Appearing on the Kojo Nnamdi Show on WAMU radio today, Edwards said Wilson's apology -- he shouted, "You lie!" after Obama denounced claims that a new health-care system would cover illegal immigrants -- was a "personal" one, but did not address the dishonor he brought to the institution of Congress, and she called for Wilson to be formally censured.
"A joint session of the United States Congress in this country is not a town hall meeting," Edwards said.
Edwards' call echoed one by the liberal Web site OpenLeft -- they have an online petition with more than 30,000 signatures encouraging the same -- and builds on the hard line she has taken on health-care reform. In contrast to Obama's repeated calls for bipartisanship on the effort, Edwards, who is vice-chairwoman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, told The Hill newspaper last month that Obama has "earned the right to go it alone" in passing health care.
For those struggling to make it to the weekend, a little extraneous background: The power to censure is derived from the U.S. Constitution, though the word itself does not appear in the text. Article I, Section 5, Clause 2 states that: "Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member."
If tradition is any guide, and Wilson were to be censured, he would be made to "stand at the 'well' of the House chamber to receive a verbal rebuke," and the Speaker of the House would read the censure resolution aloud, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service. In rare instances, members even have been made to pay fines.
According to OpenCongress.org, the first member of the House to be censured was William Stanberry of Ohio in 1832, punished for insulting the Speaker of the House. The most recent were Rep. Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) and Rep. Daniel Crane (R-Ill.) in 1983, both for sexual misconduct with a House page.
For more insight on the possible roots of Wilson's folly, check out the story today by the Post's Philip Rucker and Ann Gerhart.
September 11, 2009; 2:40 PM ET
Categories: Health Care , Jonathan Mummolo , Montgomery County , Prince George's County
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