From the Office of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi: 'It is Wrong for a Committee Chair to Call the Police to Evict Democratic Members'

July 18, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi introduced a resolution today to condemn the abuse of power by the Republican Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee in calling the Capitol Police this morning to evict committee Democrats from their own committee library. The House voted along party lines to table the resolution. Below are Pelosi's closing remarks from the debate on the House floor this afternoon.

"My colleagues, it is clear from the debate today that the Republicans have a major problem with the democratic process. It is clear that the Republicans are in denial about their behavior, and it is clear that the Democrats must draw a line in the sand on the repression of our rights in this Congress. My resolution does just that.

"It says to the Republican majority that our constituents have a right to be heard. Every day, that right is abused, but, today, the Republicans went over the edge.

"The facts are these my colleagues: the police came to the library behind the Ways and Means Committee while the bill was still being read. There is no confusion as to why the police went to the library. And the police did not go to the library once or twice, they went to the library three times to evict the Democratic members.

"First came the policemen, and then came their superior, and then came the representative of the Sergeant at Arms office to clear the room, to evict the members from that room. And that’s why, if there is any challenge to these facts, we can take up this discussion under oath under the auspices of the Ethics Committee.

"We must insist on this House supporting the resolution that it is wrong for the Chair to conduct this committee meeting and have part of that be to call the police. And we must insist that the markup that took place is not validly ordered and recorded to the House.

"There is no confusion. The question before the House is this: is it right for the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee to call the police to evict Democratic Members from their meeting place? Again, the police came not once, not twice, but three times.

"A vote for my resolution is a vote to reject that kind of behavior. It is wrong for the committee Chair to call the police and my Republican colleagues just don’t know that. And the country should know that about them. Why isn’t it clear to you that it isn’t right to call the police to evict your colleagues from a room?

"What should be a stunning fact to the American people is that the Republicans in the House of Representatives need to be convinced that it is wrong to call the police to evict the Democratic colleagues from their meeting. I say that over and over again.

"We talk about the power of ideas. We heard the brilliant speech yesterday by the Prime Minister of Great Britain talking about liberty and the pride we should take, and our contribution to it throughout the world, and about the power of ideas. But the power of our example speaks louder than all of that. And what is the example that we show to the rest of the world when we have the Chairman of the committee calling the police to evict his colleagues from a room?

"The Greeks had a word for it -- hubris -- and it was about power, abusive power, arrogance. And it is a tragic flaw. We cannot allow your tragic flaw to shut down the voices of the American people. We will fight you every step of the way, every day, in this House of Representatives.

"I want to thank my Democratic colleagues for staying, for your thoughtful presentations during this difficult debate, and for your love of this institution. And I urge my colleagues to support this very important resolution, important to the integrity of this House of Representatives."




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