Rep. Pete Stark, the iconoclastic chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, found himself in a rare position last week: apologizing for one of his trademark rhetorical outbursts.
On Oct. 18, during debate on extending the State Childrens Health Insurance Program, the California Democrat said: You dont have money to fund the war or children. But youre going to spend it to blow up innocent people if we can get enough kids to grow old enough for you to send to Iraq to get their heads blown off for the presidents amusement.
Even for a lawmaker who is known for mixing his barbs with equal amounts humor and rancor, the comment went too far, both Republicans and Democrats said.
On Oct. 22, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) offered a resolution to censure Starkone of the most severe wrist slaps Congress has at its disposal. The resolution admonished Stark for comments that were personally abusive toward the president and Congress and that dishonors servicemen and servicewomen.
Though the resolution was defeated by a 196-173 vote, Stark took to the House floor for a rareand tearfulmea culpa. I want to apologize to my colleagues, many of whom I have offended, to the president, his family (and) to the troops, he said. I hope that with this apology, I will become as insignificant as I should be and that we can return to the issues that do divide us, but that we can resolve in a better fashion.