House leaders: Members not instructed to keep debate civil

Hours before the House is set to open debate a bill to repeal the healthcare reform law, the House's No. 2 Democrat and Republican said their party's members were not given special instructions to keep the debate civil. 

In light of this month's shooting tragedy in Arizona that left six dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) seriously wounded, many have been calling on lawmakers to keep the discourse on repeal civil, given that the original debate on the reform law sparked incidents of heated rhetoric. 

Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said members of his caucus did not receive special instructions to avoid inflammatory language, but he thinks that Democrats and Republicans will use factual arguments to make their respective cases.

"My expectation is that members will heed their own advice and the advice of others" to debate the repeal on its "merits," Hoyer said.  

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Republicans were not specifically instructed to avoid controversial language during the repeal debate.

"There's been no discussion of acceptable and nonacceptable language," Cantor said. "What we've said and the Speaker said is this — we're about policy-oriented debate here."

In the weeks since the GOP took control of the House, the parties have clashed over factual arguments, including whether the repeal bill will boost the deficit and if the reform law will hurt the labor market.

This post was update at 2:57 with Cantor's comments.

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