A group of House Democratic women called Wednesday on Republican leaders to rebuke Rep. Allen B. West (R-Fla.) for calling Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) “vile,” “despicable” and “not a lady.”
Reps. Gwen Moore (Wis.), Lois Capps (Calif.), Jackie Speier (Calif.), Donna F. Edwards (Md.) and Carolyn B. Maloney (N.Y.) said that West should apologize for his comments and that House GOP leaders should publicly disavow them.
“We see this as a historic and systemic way that women have been subjected to sexism particularly in this venue, in this political environment,” Moore said. ”Just once again, we have been told that in order to be a ‘lady,’ we need to just stay in our places.”
West’s remarks came in an e-mail sent Tuesday afternoon, after Wasserman Schultz criticized on the House floor West’s support for a bill that would allow the debt ceiling to be raised in exchange for significant spending cuts and congressional passage of a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.
“The gentleman from Florida, who represents thousands of Medicare beneficiaries, as do I, is supportive of this plan that would increase costs for Medicare beneficiaries – unbelievable for a member from South Florida,” she said.
West, a freshman, accused the four-term Democrat of “unprofessional and inappropriate sophomoric behavior.”
“Look, Debbie, I understand that after I departed the House floor you directed your floor speech comments directly towards me,” West wrote in the e-mail, which also went to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and West’s chief of staff. “Let me make myself perfectly clear, you want a personal fight, I am happy to oblige. You are the most vile, unprofessional, and despicable member of the US House of Representatives. If you have something to say to me, stop being a coward and say it to my face, otherwise, shut the heck up. Focus on your own congressional district!”
“You have proven repeatedly that you are not a Lady, therefore, shall not be afforded due respect from me!” he added.
On Wednesday, Maloney said, “I’ve got to tell you that standing up for what you believe in, speaking out on the floor of Congress, and getting elected to office is very ladylike, Mr. West. And I’d like to say that I believe it’s sad that Mr. West felt he had to resort to that kind of language, but they resort to that type of language because they cannot win on the merits.”
The New York Democrats added, “If [West] had given those comments on the floor of the House of Representatives, his words would have been taken down and stricken from the record because his words were nothing more than personal attacks, and the rules of this Congress do not permit personal attacks.”
Both parties have been fundraising off the imbroglio. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Emily’s List excerpted West’s remarks Wednesday in fundraising letters to supporters, and West’s campaign sent a fundraising missive highlighting the comments Wednesday afternoon.