Lawmakers: Threats Rising In Wake Of Health Vote
ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
MELISSA BLOCK, host:
And I'm Melissa Block.
Since the vote on health care on Sunday, about a dozen House Democrats have received nasty voicemails or worse, violent threats, including death threats. Some have even had bricks smashed through their district office windows. The FBI and Capitol police are investigating and have stepped up security.
We'll have more on one specific case, in a moment, but first NPR's Andrea Seabrook reports from Capitol Hill, where House leaders began pointing fingers.
ANDREA SEABROOK: Democrats have taken issue with Republicans language on health care for many months. At last summer's town hall meetings, and in demonstrations and political rallies since, Republicans and Tea Party activists describe the health care bill as an attack on liberty and a threat to freedom.
The day before the vote, House Republican John Boehner predicted, quote, "Armageddon," and said the bill would, quote, "ruin the country." House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said today that members of Congress must be careful with their language.
Representative NANCY PELOSI (Democrat, California; Speaker of the House): I believe that words have power, they weigh a ton. And they are received differently by people in - depending on their, shall we say, emotional state. And we have to take responsibility for words that are said that we do not reject.
SEABROOK: Then later, at Republican leader Boehner's weekly press conference, he said...
Representative JOHN BOEHNER (Republican, Ohio; House Minority Leader): It's been a somber week for the American people. With a stroke of a pen, President Obama signed away another share of Americans' freedom.
SEABROOK: And Boehner also said strong language is part of any political fight, but...
Rep. BOEHNER: Violence and threats are unacceptable. They have no place in a political debate.
SEABROOK: Immediately after Boehner's press conference, Republican Whip Eric Cantor took the stage to say that he, too, had been threatened.
Representative ERIC CANTOR (Republican, Virginia; Minority Whip): A bullet was shot through the window of my campaign office in Richmond this week, and I've received threatening emails.
SEABROOK: Richmond police say a bullet was fired into the air around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday. On the way down, it broke a window in Cantor's office. Cantor suggested that Democrats are trying to score political points by talking about the threats in public.
Rep. CANTOR: It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicle for political gain.
SEABROOK: So now each side is claiming the other is engaging in nasty political tactics. On the surface it looks like your average Washington kerfuffle, except this is much more serious.
Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.