Rather than keep a low profile, Rep. Joe "You lie!" Wilson (R-S.C.) returned to the scene of the crime -- or, at least, the clear violation of House rules of decorum -- Monday afternoon with the first House floor speech of the week.
House Democratic leaders are still deciding what measures to take against Wilson for his outburst during President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress last week. After his speech on Monday, the lawmaker told reporters that he hasn't heard any rumblings as to which way the hammer will fall.
Some leadership staffers said Monday that Democrats have tried to discuss several steps short of a floor vote with Wilson, but the Congressman said he hasn't been in contact with leadership. "I haven't been. Honest," he said.
Characteristically soft-spoken -- notwithstanding Wednesday night's outburst -- Wilson didn't seem especially rattled by his sudden leap to national prominence. After Democratic plans for his censure began to develop at the end of last week, he declared in a statement that he would not participate in "political games," and announced on "Fox News Sunday": "I am not apologizing again."
The outburst and its aftershocks have been good fundraising fodder for both Wilson and his Democratic opponent Rob Miller. Wilson has raised more than $1 million since the drama began and Miller has raked in more than $1.5 million as of Monday afternoon.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has been circulating a letter demanding unified GOP opposition to any formal action against Wilson and House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is a likely signatory.
"Rep. Wilson has apologized to the President, and the President accepted his apology," Boehner said in a statement released Monday afternoon. "Last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi said that she believed it was time to move on and discuss health care. I couldn't agree more, and that's why I plan to vote 'no' on this resolution."
Health care policy got lip service in Wilson's floor speech -- much of it focused on the health care debate, including a victory lap Wilson took when discussing turnout at his town halls last month. While decrying a "government takeover," he presented aspects of a Republican Study Commission plan in terms so vague that they sounded similar to the reform tenets espoused by President Obama Wednesday night.
Video of Wilson's speech appears below, along with the full text:
"Mr. Speaker, during the August recess I was honored to host the largest Congressional town halls in the history of South Carolina. 1700 people in Columbia, 1500 in Lexington, 1500 in Buford and 1200 in Hilton Head. During my 25 years of serving the public in the state senate and Congress, I have not seen such passionate events full of patriots, 95 percent of whom support health insurance reform but not a government takeover. I've presented my concerns in a handout with the government-run health care plan [gestures with paper], $1.6 trillion in costs, 100 million jobs-- 100 million people losing their current coverage, $118 billion in taxes, 1.6 million jobs lost according to the National Federation of Independent Businesses, and rationing of care. I presented a better way, the Empowering Patients First Act, produced by the Republican Study Committee, led by Dr. Tom Price. It provides for portability, keeping current coverage, tax incentives to purchase insurance, lower costs through competition, and bars government-funded abortion. In conclusion, God bless our troops, we will never forget September 11th or the global war on terrorism."
Following Wilson's speech, King and Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) both rose in his defense on the floor.