House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said GOP lawmakers aren't
provoking a recent spate of threats against lawmakers over their
Pelosi echoed Democratic leaders' call for leaders in both parties to disavow threats of violence against members of Congress for their vote on healthcare. But she said Republicans weren't to blame for the threats, which have prompted Capitol Police briefings for Democratic lawmakers.
"I don't subscribe that these acts sprang from any words of my colleagues," Pelosi said during her weekly press conference on the Capitol.
"It's inappropriate for members of Congress to cheer when these sentiments were expressed in the gallery," she added, making reference to GOP lawmakers who cheered protesters against the health bill who disrupted House proceedings on Sunday. "That's different from saying they provoked it."
The Speaker called for more civility and stronger denouncements of the actions by some Tea Party protesters.
"The best way we can do that is to clearly state this is inappropriate," she said of Democratic and Republican leaders' ability to discourage threats.
Other members of the House Democratic leadership have taken a sharper edge toward Republicans. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), who serves as assistant to Pelosi in the Democratic leadership, accused Republicans on Wednesday of "stoking the flames" of anti-lawmaker sentiments.
House Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (Ind.) made one of the strongest condemnations of the threats on Thursday, saying anger against the bill is "no excuse for bigotry, threats or acts of vandalism and I condemn such things in the strongest possible terms. People who engage in such acts undermine our cause and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“I say to my countrymen: End the threats," Pence added.
Pelosi said her members remained "undaunted" on their vote for the health bill heading into a two-week district work period, where many will face constituents.
"I leave it up to them as to how they will take this message home," she said. "But it's a great message to bring."