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House scolds Wilson for telling Obama 'you lie'


Latest update : 2009-09-16

The Democratic-led US House of Representatives on Tuesday reprimanded Republican Joe Wilson (pictured) who shouted “You lie!” at President Barack Obama during his speech outlining plans for healthcare reform.

AFP - The US House of Representatives on Tuesday voted to reprimand Republican Joe Wilson for shouting "you lie" at President Barack Obama during the president's speech to Congress last week.

While Obama himself accepted the South Carolina lawmaker's apology for the outburst, the House voted 240-179 largely along party lines to approve a symbolic motion of disapproval of Wilson's actions.

The president's Democratic allies condemned Wilson's refusal to apologize to the House for what they described as a shameful breach of decorum that required formal action to uphold the chamber's rules.

"This resolution is not about the substance of an issue but about the conduct that we expect of one another," said Democratic House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer.

Republicans mocked the debate and vote as a pointless distraction from difficult questions before the US Congress, such as the feuding over Obama's push to remake US health care and worries over the war in Afghanistan.

"This is nothing more than a partisan stunt aimed at trying to divert people's attention from the real issue that the American people want to talk (about) and that's talk about health care," said Republican Minority Leader John Boehner.

But a handful of fellow Republicans said Wilson -- little known nationally before his red-faced, prime-time outburst during Obama's speech to a rare joint session of the US Congress -- should have apologized to his colleagues.

"Absent that the House had to police itself through a resolution of disapproval, which I supported," said Representative Bob Inglis, one of only seven Republicans who voted for the resolution.

Just 12 Democrats voted against the measure.

Wilson took to the floor of the chamber to criticize what he said was a "partisan" move.

"When we are done here today, we will not have taken any steps closer to helping more American families afford health insurance or helping small businesses create new jobs," he said.

Wilson's outburst, which he has said was spontaneous, came as Obama sought to assure lawmakers that his plans to ensure health insurance for all Americans would not cover illegal immigrants.

Together, Wilson and his likely Democratic opponent in the 2010 mid-term elections have raised over one million dollars for their race.

In a campaign video, Wilson's wife Roxanne said that when he called her after Obama's speech, she asked: "Joe, who's the nut that hollered out 'you lie'?"

"And he goes: 'It was me." And I said: 'no, really, who did it?' I couldn't believe that Joe would say that," she said, adding that her husband "is very passionate."

Date created : 2009-09-16