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Higgins: Democratic Leadership Should Crack Down on Inappropriate Language Toward President Trump

January 10, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Clay Higgins (R-LA) is calling on House Democratic Leadership to strictly enforce House rules governing the use of hostile and inappropriate language toward the President.

Congressman Higgins issued the following statement:

“The House of Representatives has longstanding rules regarding speech, behavior, and decorum on the House floor, the legislative chamber of We, the People. There has recently been a notable increased lack of respect directed toward President Trump, expressed verbally while recognized by the Speaker, coming from some members of the Democratic party. This is direct defiance of the House rules governing decorum, and it is an affront to the Office of the President. Though it is every American’s right to disagree on matters of policy, as Congressional Representatives we must maintain a statesmanlike discipline of civility when debating official business on the House floor. Democratic leadership should condemn this hostile language and strictly enforce the House rules governing debate.”


 
Full text of the letter follows:


January 9, 2019
 

Nancy Pelosi
Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives
H232 U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
Steny Hoyer
Majority Leader
705 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
 
 
Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Hoyer,
 
I write to you today with concern over the enforcement of the United States (U.S.) House of Representative rules for the conduction of official business.  Specifically, House Rule XVII, clause 1, Section b (Rule XVII) which covers “Decorum and Debate.”
 
As you are aware, Democrat members of the House of Representatives have been recently filmed at public and private events using hostile and inappropriate language when referring to the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.   While I believe this rhetoric is harmful to our nation, I do understand that they are entitled to voice their opinions in any manner they deem fit as protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when not on the House floor.
 
However, since January 3, 2019, I have seen a drastic increase in hostile language being used on the House floor during debates, votes, and morning hour speeches regarding our President. These acts are in direct violation of House Rule 17, Clause 1, Section b (Decorum and Debate) of the House Manual which states:
 
“Remarks in debate shall be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality”
 
Clear precedent of the House, as outlined in Section 370 of Jefferson’s Manual, applies this rule to remarks referencing the President of the United States.
 
This rule is in place to preserve Congress’s reverence during the course of its official work.  Regardless of political beliefs or affiliation with a particular party, the Office of the Presidency deserves respect.  Failure to adhere to this principle sets a dangerous precedent that will only perpetuate or exacerbate the current polarization that has overtaken much of our work.   
 
I respectfully request that you honor tradition and responsibilities of decorum as outlined under Rule I of the House of Representatives, which states “the Speaker shall preserve order and decorum” by ensuring that Rule XVII is enforced in full on the House Floor. I appreciate your attention to this issue.
 
 
Sincerely,
                                                           
________________________________
Clay Higgins
United States Congressman
 
 
CC:
 
Kevin McCarthy
Minority Leader
H204 U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515
 
Steve Scalise
Minority Whip
H148 U.S. Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515