By Mike Soraghan - 09/13/09 01:43 PM EDT
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) said Sunday he will not apologize for his "You lie!" outburst, risking a sanction from the Democrats who run the House.
"I am not going to apologize again," Wilson said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "I have apologized to the president. I believe that is sufficient."
Wilson's outburst Wednesday night during Obama's speech to a joint session of Congress came after Obama said his healthcare plan would not cover illegal immigrants.
Wilson apologized to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday evening and, on Thursday, Obama said he accepted Wilson’s apology. Democratic lawmakers note that he was pressed to do so by Republican leaders.
Several House leaders and many rank-and-file Democrats pushed a reluctant House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) Thursday for some sanction against Wilson.
"There was a violation of the rules of the House," said Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly. "It needs to be resolved by an apology or a resolution."
It is against House rules to impugn the integrity of the president when speaking on the floor or in committee meetings.
While not a formal censure or reprimand, the resolution, if passed as expected, would put Congress on record as condemning Wilson's conduct.
Wilson said he was coming off several large town hall meetings where constituents made clear they didn't like Obama's healthcare plan. He said his son told him he had a "town hall moment."
"I respect the president," Wilson said. "I would not do that again. I just felt so provoked. I would have said it differently if I had the time."
But he added, "I believe in truth," and said his outburst brought the issue to light and forced Democrats to alter their plan to address the illegal immigration issue.
Wilson said he values civility but is prepared to deal with the scolding on the floor.
"It's going to be tough for me," Wilson said. "I'm a civil person. I believe in civil debate on the floor."
He said Democrats are pushing the apology to distract from the real issues.
"Democrats are playing politics," Wilson said. "I believe in the truth. That was not the truth."
He also rejected an accusation by New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd that Wilson's outburst stemmed from racial intolerance.
"No, no. I respect the president," Wilson told host Chris Wallace. He added that there is a relationship of sorts between their families, because his family and First Lady Michelle Obama's family hail from adjacent towns in South Carolina.
Wilson and his Democratic opponent Rob Miller have each reportedly raised more than $1 million in campaign contributions since the episode Wednesday night.
And Wilson was hailed as a hero at a taxpayer rally at the Capitol on Saturday, with speakers praising him, and many protesters waving signs reading "Joe Wilson for President."
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, called the Wilson flap a "red herring," saying "there's no disagreements" on limiting health coverage to those in this country legally.
"The language will be clear" that they won't be covered, Sebelius said. "That will be very spelled out."