House members decry ‘toxic’ atmosphere in Parliament among lawmakers

In interviews with more than a dozen members, CNN heard from Democrats and some Republicans that things were as bad as they could remember, with no indication that things will get better soon, and the fears and worries come not only from the members, but also their families.

Just last week, a Democrat and two Republicans voted to censor Representative Paul Gosar, a Republican from Arizona, to post an animated video describes the killing of a fellow member of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York. Gosar initially took the video down, but he retweeted another tweet containing the video just an hour after he endured the highest form of reprimand a member can receive in the House.

As he carried out his punishment in the House’s well, he was surrounded by a group of colleagues who rushed to his defense. His leadership never went on the floor to advise him, only attacking the process the Democrats were using.

Reply. Lauren Boebert, a Republican from Colorado, defended Gosar in the ring by calling some of her progressive Democratic colleagues “the Jihad Squad,” a term she defended for CNN on Friday. .
Statistically, Democrats and Republicans hate each other more than ever

“It is shocking to me that Leader McCarthy will stand for eight and a half hours spreading disinformation about the bill for the American people and not saying a word about the atrocities committed by its own members. he released a video praising the murder of a colleague and threatening violence against the President of the United States,” said Representative Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania. “I don’t know where the next basement is.”

Those are all challenges that members are facing today in the House, and some have chosen to retire rather than endure more caustic behaviour.

On the outskirts of the House room, metal detectors are still placed at every door, a reminder of the fears that are still there. And efforts to investigate the root cause of the January 6 attacks have been politicized and met with resistance from most Republicans. Some even downplayed whether the events of that day were as bad. It is a constant reminder to some members of the status of their workplace.

“January 6 made everything so much worse. I was in the ring that day. It was a life-changing moment on a personal level, but it was also a moment. change Congress,” Representative Cheri Bustos, a Democrat from Illinois, told CNN. “It began with unchallenged relentless lies and was amplified until January 6 for a member of Congress to threaten the lives of friends and colleagues.”

In an interview with Representative John Garamendi, a Democrat from California, Garamendi’s wife Patricia can be heard in the background during the interview answering with her husband that yes, the threats are still bad. as bad as they have ever been. Patricia Garamendi, who works closely with other congressional ladies on events and provides guidance on how to navigate Congress, agreed to speak to CNN about the story. She said it was the scariest time she could remember for members’ spouses, who worried not only for their member of Congress but for their entire family. .

“It took away a lot of fun. Service was hard. Travel was tough and problems were hard, but when you’re worried about family, it’s been tough,” she said. “I mean some kids are being sent to school.”

‘I don’t run anymore’

And those are just security threats. A major battle on Covid-19 only further exasperates divisions. A handful of conservative members routinely defy the House’s mask presenter powers, handing out thousands of dollars in fines while some members openly admit they’re not vaccinated.

Standing on the steps of the US House of Representatives on Friday, Bustos told CNN that all bitterness and lies affect her decision not to run for re-election.

“My interns are down there,” she pointed. “I always write them five pieces of advice and one of them is ‘don’t take things personally.’ I’ve tried to live like that in politics. This, you can’t help but look at me personally. All of this has contributed to me not running for re-election. I want to love what I do. love who I work with I want to respect the people I work with and that has been compromised in ways that I hope can be fixed at some point, but right now I don’t feel like I have repairable.”

Some members’ anxiety stems from bitter disagreements with the opposite party, while others say the toxic spiral has spread to even the way members of the same party interact with each other. For months, progressives and censors in the Democratic party struggled with how to get past both. a bipartisan infrastructure bill and a Democratic-only billo expanding social safety net. But divisions within their ranks have threatened even bills and have led at times to public and spearheading personal stabbings.

Representative Stephanie Murphy, a Democrat from Florida, said: “The poison can happen on the spot. “I think there’s a lot of Dem-on-Dem-themed violence as well as divisions between Republicans and Democrats. I think it’s not conducive to a healthy legislative environment for colleagues to make things worse. these debates become personal and acrimonious.”

‘People here need thicker skin’

In a series of interviews with Republicans, many downplayed the split or blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for setting the wrong tone when she announced all members would need to go through the machine. metal detector to get to the floor after the uprising.

“I believe it is a consolidation of power in the Speaker’s office in the House of Commons and an abuse of power by the Speaker because she has control of a party and she completely silences the minority voices. and hide behind Covid to get it done,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, a Republican from Washington state, told CNN.

Representative Chip Roy, a Republican from Texas who advocated before January 6 to certify the Electoral College results, told CNN part of the problem was that members had not moved from January 6.

“Everybody here needs to get thicker skin,” says Roy. “At some point here you have to let some things pass.”

When asked if he’d include the uprising in the things people need to “roll out,” Roy said “everyone here has got to have thicker skin about representing the people and doing it.” their job rather than making things personal on the floor of the House.”

‘I feel safe, but it’s incredibly unsettling’

But for some members, the threats are very personal.

“Rep. Boebert calls us the ‘Jihad squad’ upstairs. That means it empowers and inspires those who want to do us harm, actually go and do that harm. She was upstairs spewing out ‘Jihad Squad,'” said Representative Jamaal Bowman. “I feel safe, but it’s extremely disturbing that she’s talking this way and we have to respond to that in some way.”

Ocasio-Cortez, the subject of Gosar’s animated video, told CNN last week that it’s sometimes impossible to separate politics from the personal, even as she’s managed to build rapport with some Republicans. .

“It’s not just because they don’t like me as a person. In fact, I’ve had many Republicans come up to me upstairs and say, ‘I tell the people back home that even though I don’t, agree with you, but I think you’re a pretty good person.’ I was approached by Republicans after the 6th, one of them even crying and feeling guilty about what happened. out,” said Ocasio-Cortez. “So for some people…publicly, this is a gig. But it’s also personal because I can’t separate myself from my gender, I can’t separate myself from my gender.” the way I was born, so they hate non-whites, their hatred of women is one of my hatreds.”


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