Updated: March 22, 2010 at 12:00 am
WASHINGTON — Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer acknowledged Monday that he is the lawmaker who shouted out “baby killer” during a floor speech by Rep. Bart Stupak, an anti-abortion Democrat whose vote was crucial to passage of the Democratic health care bill Sunday evening.
Neugebauer, in his third term from a solidly GOP district that includes the city of Lubbock, said he had apologized to Stupak for his outburst, which drew a rebuke from the chair during the often-rowdy debate.
Neugebauer insisted in a statement that he was not referring directly to Stupak but to the agreement that the Michigan Democrat helped work out with the White House. That eleventh-hour agreement, under which President Barack Obama said he would issue an executive order pledging that no federal funds be used for abortions, helped seal the last votes Democrats needed to pass the bill.
He said his exact words, referring to that agreement, were “it’s a baby killer.”
“While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself,” he said.
But Neugebauer also acknowledged that the House chamber “is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate.”
In an interview Monday with Fox News, Stupak lamented the prevalence over the past year of “uncivilized behavior” when lawmakers are trying to speak on the House floor. “We can disagree on these issues as we should and we should have a meaningful debate but personal attacks have no place on it.”
The outburst was reminiscent of last September when another GOP conservative, Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina, yelled out “you lie” when Obama was addressing Congress on the health care issue. He also issued an apology.
Unlike that incident, Wilson was quickly identified by reporters covering the speech. This time, it was not immediately known who did the shouting and it was nearly a day before Neugebauer came forward.
Neugebauer’s “baby killer” shout came at the end of a day of passionate and often vitriolic speeches on both sides of the health care issue and protests during which several anti-health care bill campaigners used racial slurs against black members of Congress and reportedly spit at one black member.