Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Senior Democrat, GOP Aide Get Into Altercation on House Floor

(File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

(Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A Democratic effort to stall floor action and highlight the shutdown turned into a shouting match between a member of Democratic leadership and a Republican floor staffer.

What is undisputed: Rep. Joseph Crowley, D-N.Y., the vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, had an altercation with a Republican staffer, Chris Vieson, the floor director for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

What is in question is what Vieson and Crowley said to each other, and whether Crowley touched Vieson.

It all started when Democrats began lining up to make an endless string of unanimous consent requests for a vote on a “clean” continuing resolution to open up the government.

Over the course of about 25 minutes, Democrats offered 37 unanimous consent requests, all of which were denied by the presiding officer, GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, due to a lack of appropriate clearances.

Democrats could have gone on all day making the unanimous consent requests, and that could have brought a lot of media attention — and made members miss their flights home.

Eventually, Republicans had enough and they decided to pull the bill to cut off debate.

“He had come to our side, was yelling across the aisles that they were shutting down the debate and pulling the bill,” Crowley told reporters. “And I had said to him then that a staffer was shutting down democracy, and he said, ‘That’s right.'”

Crowley said he went up to Vieson “and said that’s inappropriate to act the way in which you did.”

Crowley said Vieson agreed, apologized to Crowley, and Crowley accepted his apology.

No such apology, it seems, from Crowley.

There are multiple reports that Crowley was using his index finger to make his point and that he was poking Vieson, which is a definite no-no on the House floor.

Crowley said that never happened. A spokesman for Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., said it did.

“The Democrats were using dilatory tactics to delay the bill. Under instructions from Majority Leader Eric Cantor, our floor director instructed the Minority’s floor director that we were moving off the bill and on to a vote to motion to instruct,” said Rory Cooper, a Cantor spokesman. “They can continue their show on Monday when we return to the bill, and we’re disappointed that Rep. Crowley would put his hands on a staffer who was merely sending that message to the minority.”

Regardless of what was actually said — or whether someone was poked — Cooper eventually said the whole thing had been blown out of proportion. Crowley agreed.

“Blown out of proportion would be very accurate, I think,” Crowley said.

But Democrats took the dust-up as an opportunity to make their larger point.

“Clearly Republicans are not happy with us,” said Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, who called Cantor’s floor director a “good person.”

Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, had his own take on the situation.

“This is what happens in the public process when we stymie opposition, when we cut off debate, and when we continue to tilt on disaster by manufactured crises. It is time for us to reopen the government,” Clyburn said.

Updated | Cantor’s office now says Crowley did not touch Vieson.

Katey McGettrick contributed to this report.

  • F Michael Addams

    The Discharge Petition will easily get a majority of House members…at that point the Teabillies are a useless minority rump joke…Wait and see..

    • DebraChicago

      Ok genius we will ;) another gimmick, parliamentary trick by the scummy DEMS…shocker

    • Jason Haggard

      If you can’t decipher between a Tea Party member and republican instead of trying to say they are the same thing then why should anyone believe that you can decipher between fact and fiction.

      • stormkite


    • Joseph Jr Vanchieri

      Teabillies? So Patriots who believe in the founding documents and the American way of life get called names. The liberals who believe they know what is better for you than you do get a pass. A President who breaks laws, picks and chooses the ones to be enforced, says there is no negotiating is you hero. A picture of all the dictators in the world must be hung up in your room.

  • DebraChicago

    Gee Hoyer, you mean stymie debate/opposition like the DEMS did when they locked the GOP out of the healthcare debate and rammed the bill thru via reconciliation without one GOP vote on Christmas Eve? What a hypocrite.

    • Ronik

      If there was no debate, how did 161 Repub amendments to the ACA, pass?

      • RichardOwens

        I wonder about that too? The Republicans were very active in obstructing every single thing in the ACA.

        That is different than saying “it was rammed through.”

        In fact I think the time wasted in the poison-pill amendments was more than the discussion of the actual content of the legislation itself.

        That’s one reason people are so ignorant of the bill’s provisions.

        • Ronik

          Notice that those like DebraChicago just make these statements, but can never defend them with facts? The Repubs propsed over 700 amendments, trying to slow the process down so they could get their opposition (TeaParty) in place. It took a while for FreedomWorks, etc., to round up enough “real patriots” and organize them into the radical right-wing extremists we see today. Its psy-ops in the extreme.

        • The duck

          The Republicans first complaint was there was no time allotted to reading the ACA bill. It was then that Pelosi stated, “Well just pass it and read it later and we can correct it then”. If that is the way you want legislation done, then don’t worry about what Obama has done since then. Executive Orders galore. By pass of congress at will. The list of things he has done in violation of his oath of office stagers my mind. It is not the Republicans or Tea Partiers that partially closed down government, It is the Democrats and it is planned execution of America.
          Why do you suppose the veterans entered Washington D.C. today? What is your take on Obama taking Social Security and Medicare money away from Seniors? That is not his money to use as he wishes. Obama has even tried to take away our second amendment rights by side stepping the constitutional process going through the United Nations instead. Thank God that did not work for him. Nearly every Democrat is for gun control that our constitution says is our right and duty to own.
          When I saw my service men and women brothers and sisters removing those Barrycades I felt pride. Obama took away their education funding and made cuts in their health care. Those veterans earned by their blood and tears and lives everything they once had and more. Unless you have been in a war zone you have no right to praise and support someone like these despots in congress and the White House. If your an American citizen you make me ashamed to even think of you as one. Period.

          • Lefty

            I remember the 8 months that it took for that bill to pass.

            If they didn’t read it in 8 months, then they’re not doing their jobs.

  • Jeff P

    Keep it shut! Fire the non-essential personnel. Then pay the bills.

    • Ronik

      Sounds to me like you should be the first non-essential fired.

      • bill

        What an intellectual retort!.. Did you get help with that one?

  • Layla

    The American people are going to eliminate much of this discord in Nov., 2014. We’re doing to do our best to vote many of you out of office, both sides. This isn’t about you. And just about all in Washington seem to have forgotten that.

    • Jimcima

      Yes, because it’s both side who refuse to fund the budget they voted for and it’s both sides who are holding the world economy hostage to stop a bill that was legally enacted into law and declared Constitutional.

      If I was “Washington” I would ignore you as well.

      • bill

        Jimmy… a bit of reason: The (D) Senate, in violation of law, didn’t bother submitting a budget but once over the last 5 years. Obammy, one submission which was defeated in the Senate 97-0. The Senate budget submitted is but a freaking joke, much like Reid. One final bit of advice: “Tis far better to keep your mouth shut and be THOUGHT the fool, than to open it and remove all doubt”.. When you do some research and have a clue what you speak / write about perhaps someone will give your posts more than a momentary glance.

        • Jimcima

          Well that’s about the stupidest thing I’ve heard on of you Tea Tards say about this whole thing, and that’s saying something. You really are dumb.

          No matter, President Obama will invoke the 14th Amendment, pay the bills and effectively make you and your “movement” moot.

          You lose again.

          • Phil


      • hepette

        pls show unbiased proof that dems had something to do with holding the country hostage……because they didnt.

        • Jimcima

 it. The Dems are exactly the same as the Reps.

  • Ethan Stivers

    Rep. Clyburn’s words are a sad, but accurate example of modern politics…I.e. – your point of view changes with which side you’re on. If a democrat or better yet a minority democrat had been poked in the chest…what would Rep. Clay burn have been quoted as saying?

  • Ernest Heassler

    [Rep. James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, the No. 3 Democrat in the House, had his own take on the situation.

    “This is what happens in the public process when we stymie opposition, when we cut off debate, and when we continue to tilt on disaster by manufactured crises. It is time for us to reopen the government,” Clyburn said.]

    LMAO!! Clyburn might just as well have been speaking about his own President who will negotiatie with Islamic Terrorists but not Republicans. Clyburn is a proven liar and most of what he says should be discounted no matter the subject.

    • Buford2k11

      Umm. Islamic terrorists are not as bad as the Teeparty…the Islamic Jihadis only want to kill us…while the Teepeers want us to suffer before killing us…

      • Ernest Heassler

        Buford, do you actually know anyone in the TeaParty or even spoken to a TeaParty member? I’m thinking not.

        • Buford2k11

          Yep I do…

        • stormkite

          As soon as baggers start a statement “I’m thinking” whatever follows is necessarily a lie.

      • bill

        A-hole, You best be glad we aren’t face to face when you state I’m as bad or worse than a Jihadist… Someone would get some comeuppance.

        • kktex12

          He (Buford) would require a hearse.

          • bill

            F’n cowards can talk tall when they’re behind a screen name. He’d wet his pants in a NY second if ever confronted face to face with an American Conservative.

          • Jimcima

            Oh give it a rest contard. Nobody cares what color panties you’re wearing.

          • bill

            I take it you have a penchant for men in panties!.. There are groups on yahell I understand that cater to that bizarre fetish.. I “spose” I could help ya surf and find a home for ya!

          • skylights

            Big man again threatening violence, the only language the American Conservative knows. You’d wet yourself the first time you found yourself surrounded in the prison shower, you criminal wannabe. Better think long and hard before you commit the crime of assault and battery, you disgusting animal.

          • bill

            That had ta get your panties all twisted in a knot hey! You twits are so entertaining….Now I’d suggest ya put some big-boy pants on to cover your tidy whitie’s, get out of your parents basement and do a bit of confronting real life without a handout from da gubbament. You’ll be amazed at the self-esteem you’ll feel…

          • bill

            Skyranger.. ya have to know I’m just playing with ya to invoke an insightful response on your part! Please share with us your 100% dependency on the gubberment.. .. it’s already pretty evident.
            A conservative would rely upon themselves… it’s called self reliance. When met with greater numbers, we’d call on like minded individuals… You cowardly, sniveling, dependent twits call on da gubberment to look out for yourselves.

          • skylights

            I believe in the rule of law. You clearly do not, and would call upon your thug friends to commit more assault and battery. You American Conservatives are basically a violent gang preying upon law-abiding citizens. I get it.

        • skylights

          I would say it to your face. What would you do, beat me up? Then what would you do when I called the cops? Run away like the criminal you are, or face the music? I’m betting the former.

          • bill

            Skybirdbrain. No, I’d not beat ya up.. I’d not have to as you’d not have the cajoles to do it face to face!

      • kktex12

        Please go drink some of the same koolaid that was fed to the jim jones cult.

        • bill

          KKTEX.. they’ve already done that as proved by their demonic, lock-step, druid/zombie like rants….It’s just that the poison hasn’t yet relegated them to worm food yet.

    • rr_nyc

      Clyburn crying about cutting off debate? Call Harry DUCKING Reid you Fick.

  • Janese

    Both sides use tactics to win their point…seriously…not allowing a side to speak is truly cutting away at our rights..our freedoms…and I thought the Republican Teabaggers were all about our freedoms and rights..oh wait…only when it applies to them…

  • allen blaine

    I guess if wanting smaller gov. and fiscal responsibility is somehow extreme then there is a lot of unintelligent people in this nation. As far as I can tell, following the laws of this great nation is not extreme. Breaking the laws and picking and choosing which laws will be enforced, or not, now that is extremism. They all take an oath to uphold and defend the constitution from all enemies both foreign and domestic. They do not take an oath to uphold and defend the government when the government is wrong. Franklin Roosevelt was the biggest socialist in history. The constitution does not allow the FDA, FAA, FCC, etc. to even exist let alone the federal reserve private run for profit bank. All of these extra constitutional agencies take away the power of the states and the people. I have been taught that slavery was abolished. but we have all become slaves to this government.

    • The duck

      This government tries to enslave everyone. But I have found ways to circumvent these despots. I believe it is our duty to avoid paying homage to tyrants until the revolution begins and then it is the duty of every American to serve the constitution and rid ourselves of these nuts in D.C.

  • rr_nyc

    Press for battery charges.

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