Facing a swift, bipartisan backlash, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) issued an apology Wednesday night for shouting “You lie!— at President Barack Obama in the midst of his address to a joint session of Congress.
Wilson, who was reacting to Obama’s statement that his health care reform package won’t extend coverage to illegal immigrants, said he let his “emotions get the best of me.—
“While I disagree with the president’s statement, my comments were inappropriate and regrettable,— Wilson said in a statement. “I extend sincere apologies to the president for this lack of civility.—
The outburst was met with fierce criticism from Democrats and was immediately denounced by some Republicans, including Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D) said he was “very offended— by his home-state colleague’s conduct. “I thought Gov. Sanford had taken us as low as we could go until tonight,— he said, referring to the Palmetto State chief executive ensnared in scandal over an extramarital affair.
House Rules Chairwoman Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) called Wilson’s outburst “a shameful act— and “incredibly out of place.—
“I’ve been here for a long time and I’ve never heard of anybody accosting the president like that,— she said.
Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), said the Wilson outburst, as well as other demonstrations that she said were disrespectful of the president and the House, should be addressed directly by Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).
“The Minority Leader has to get control of his Conference,— she said.
Before Wilson’s apology, some Democrats suggested he could face a formal censure by the House. Clyburn said it would “be up to the body to make that decision.— It was not clear whether they would press ahead in the wake of Wilson’s statement.
Steven T. Dennis and Jennifer Bendery contributed to this report.