Rep. Allen West. Greg Allen/NPR
Even by the highly charged and rancorous standard of Congress, the dust-up between Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Florida Democrat and Democratic National Committee chair, and Rep. Allen West, a freshman Republican, stands out.
Wasserman Schultz made a floor speech Tuesday in which she took fellow South Florida congressman West to task for supporting the GOP's fiscal responsibility bill called Cut, Cap and Balance.
That legislation, Democrats say, would lead to sharp cuts to Social Security and Medicare if it ever became law which is highly doubtful, even though it passed the House Tuesday evening.
Anyway, Wasserman Schultz apparently went too far for West when she criticized him after he left the House floor.
"Incredulously, the gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries, unbelievable from a member from South Florida."
(You can see her on this video. Her remarks about West start at about the 45 second mark.)
After West learned of the criticism, he apparently dashed off the following email to Wasserman Schultz, according to reports in the Washington Post and The Hill:
If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!
From this time forward, understand that I shall defend myself forthright against your heinous characterless behavior, You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!
Wasserman Schultz arguably was paying attention to her district since, as her press aide pointed out, West lives in her district. Lawmakers aren't required to live in the districts they represent though most typically do.
The congresswoman's office appeared to be blowing off West's flaming of her. An excerpt from The Hill:
"I don't think that Congressman West is upset at the congresswoman, but rather with the fact that she highlighted that he and other Republicans are once again trying to balance the budget on the backs of seniors, children and the middle class," Jonathan Beeton, spokesman for Wasserman Schultz, said in an email.
Such ugly moments have their political uses, however. Democrats were using West's email to raise money.
USA Today's On Politics blog reports:
Rep. Steve Israel, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, denounced West for what he called a "hate-filled screed..."
... Israel asks for donations of $3 or more to raise $100,000, which he says will be matched by Democratic lawmakers.