Pelosi tangles with GOP lawmaker on House floor

The partisan fight over the southern border crisis got feistier Friday night when House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and GOP Rep. Tom Marino (Pa.) got into a heated spat on the chamber floor.

Pelosi had just finished speaking, and Marino was next at the podium across the aisle, when the two exchanged words about who's at fault for the recent influx of child migrants at the southern border.

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Marino suggested Pelosi should bear some of the blame because the Democrats never enacted immigration reform during her tenure as Speaker. Breaking floor protocol, he addressed Pelosi directly and urged her to do her research on the subject.

“I did the research on it," he said. "You might want to try it. You might want to try it, Madam Leader."

The remarks didn't sit well with Pelosi, who waited until Marino was finished speaking and then crossed the aisle to confront him directly.

"He was not happy with the fact that she was correcting him," Rep. John Larson (D-Conn.) said afterwards.

Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) was also on the chamber floor at the time.

"He started attacking [Pelosi] and the president, saying that they were responsible for the kids coming over [across the border]," Rangel recalled. "She left to go over there, and then he said, 'I must have struck a nerve,' and that did it [for Pelosi].

"He called her responsible for it, and she went over there and said, 'You're insignificant,'" Rangel said. 

Larson said the exchange "wasn't physical." 

"It could have been, but I think people got there [first]," he said.

Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) was the first Democrat to reach Pelosi, Larson said, "and was able to just calmly walk [her] back to our side."

"Saner minds prevailed," Larson said. 

 

Pelosi spokeswoman Evangeline George said Pelosi "just wanted to remind the Congressman that House Democrats had the courage to pass the DREAM Act - and have the courage to stand up for what the American people want: bipartisan, comprehensive immigration reform."  

"What have Republicans done?" George asked.  

Back on her side of the chamber, Pelosi was surrounded by Democrats, including Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Nydia Velazquez (N.Y.) and Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.). Republican Rep. Joe Barton (Texas), who was seated behind Marino at the podium during the initial exchange, also came over to comfort the visibly agitated Pelosi.

Eventually, Marino came across the aisle, where the two spoke briefly and shook hands.

George said Pelosi accepted Marino's apology.

After the two cleared the air, Marino was seen chatting amiably with several GOP colleagues on the House floor. Many were visibly pleased by the drama, shaking Marino's hand or draping an arm over his shoulder. 

Marino told reporters afterward that he told Pelosi his remarks were not meant to be personal or directed specifically to her.

"I don't want to make a big deal out of it," he said. "It was nothing personal."

A few minutes later, the House passed the Republicans' border bill by a vote of 223 to 189. The tally fell largely along party lines. 

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