Washington: The leader of the US House of Representatives on Thursday condemned vandalism and threats against members of Congress who voted for sweeping health care changes, and House Republicans who fought the legislation joined in urging Americans to calm down.
"I don`t want this to be a distraction" to the work of Congress, Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. But she also asserted that such violence and threats of reprisal have "no place in a civil debate in our country" and must be rejected.
At least four Democratic offices in the states of New York, Arizona and Kansas were struck and at least 10 members of Congress have reported some sort of threats, including obscenity-laced phone messages, congressional leaders have said. No arrests have been reported.
Rep John Boccieri, one of eight Democrats who switched to "yes" on the most recent House vote, said he had received threats.
"Having flown missions in and out of Afghanistan, I know what it`s like to be in harm`s way. But I never imagined serving in Congress could feel the same," said Boccieri, a major in the Air Force reserve. He did not elaborate on the threats.
Pelosi spoke to reporters at the Capitol shortly after Republican lawmakers took the House floor, pleading with those who vehemently oppose the Democratic health care move to refrain from acts of violence and threats.
Opposition to the health care bill, which President Barack Obama signed into law on Tuesday, is "no excuse for bigotry, threats or acts of vandalism”, said Rep Mike Pence of Indiana, the House`s third-ranked Republican.