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House rebukes Rep. Wilson

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) checks his phone after yelling out during President Barack Obama's speech on healthcare reform before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on September 9, 2009. UPI/Kevin Dietsch
Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) checks his phone after yelling out during President Barack Obama's speech on healthcare reform before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on September 9, 2009. UPI/Kevin Dietsch | License Photo

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. House of Representatives voted along party lines Tuesday to rebuke a South Carolina Republican's outburst during President Obama's healthcare remarks.

By a 240-to-170 vote, the House said Rep. Joe Wilson's shouting "You lie" during Obama's address was a "breach of decorum and degraded the proceedings ... ."

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Seven Republicans voted for the resolution and 12 Democrats voted against it. Five members voted "present."

It also said the House of Representative "disapproves of the behavior" of Wilson during the joint session last week. Wilson later apologized for his remark, and an Obama aide accepted it.

However, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer of Maryland said, "it was the House of Representatives itself that was (offended)."

If Wilson had apologized to the House, "that would have ended the matter," Hoyer said. "It's about the conduct we expect of one another in the course of doing our business."

In his defense, Wilson said the resolution wouldn't create jobs, halt spending or reform healthcare.

"I think it is clear to the American people that there are far more important issues than what we're considering now," Wilson said.

Republican speaker after speaker used their time to poke criticism at the healthcare measure floating the House.

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The resolution of disapproval was nothing more than a "partisan stunt aimed at trying to divert from real issue ... healthcare," House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio said.

"Joe Wilson is a decent human being. He did the right thing," Boehner said, voice rising. "To put him through this is unacceptable and it is a partisan stunt."

"I believe what is going here is a reflection of the unease" of the American people at the actions of Congress, said Rep. Candice Miller, R-Mich.

Majority Whip James Clyburn of South Carolina said the resolution "is not a partisan stunt. I do not participate in partisan stunts. This is about the proper decorum" in the House.

If a member hurls "accusations of mendacity" at the president and refuses to "formally express remorse," Clyburn said, "we at a minimum are duty-bound to express our disapproval."

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