Dem denies floor brawl with GOP aide

Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) denied that he inappropriately put his hands on a staffer for Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) Saturday.

Rory Cooper, a spokesman for Cantor, told reporters outside of the House chamber that the leader was "disappointed that Rep. Crowley chose to lay his hands" on GOP floor director Chris Vieson.

But Crowley said he never touched Vieson and that the GOP aide apologized to him for being rude.

"What I said to him was that I thought that his behavior on the House floor was not fitting with the decorum of the House," Crowley told reporters. "He agreed, and he apologized."

The Democrats were trying to force a floor vote on their bill to re-open the federal government without any concessions to Republicans.

Crowley said that Vieson was yelling at Democrats, saying the House would not allow a vote on the bill.

Crowley said he told Vieson, "A staffer is shutting down democracy," and he claimed Vieson replied, "That's right."

"And then I went up to him and said, 'That's inappropriate to act in the way in which you did,'" Crowley said. He added that Vieson then apologized and that he accepted the apology.

Cantor's office did not respond to a request to provide more details about the altercation.

Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the incident initially began as a dispute between Vieson and one of Hoyer's staffers.

Hoyer claimed Republicans were upset with the Democratic push to open the government.

"That frustration, I think, boiled over," Hoyer said. "This staffer -— he's a good person -- got a little exercised."