Democrats erupted in laughter on the House floor Wednesday when Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) — who was presiding over the chamber — called for decorum.
The heckling came as House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) was delivering floor remarks about the debt ceiling, which has been the subject of high-stakes negotiations between GOP lawmakers and the White House.
As Scalise was urging the Senate and White House to take action on raising the borrowing limit — referencing the bill House Republicans passed last month — Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) called him a liar.
“We are in fact the only body in this town who has actually taken steps to address the debt ceiling and the spending problem in Washington. I would encourage the Senate to take up the bill, I would encourage the president to get engaged and address this problem, but we already have, the votes are on the board —” Scalise said before pausing to react to Bowman.
Bowman’s office confirmed to The Hill that it was the congressman who yelled “liar” while Scalise was speaking.
“Order,” Greene said from the dais, pounding her gavel.
“I ask that the House be in order and there be some decorum on the other side,” Scalise said.
After a roughly 15-second pause, Greene called for decorum in the chamber.
“The members are reminded to abide by decorum of the House,” she said.
Democrats in the chamber then erupted in laughter. Some members — including Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) — stood from their seats and started shouting.
As the laughter continued, Greene slammed her gavel a number of times.
The Hill reached out to Greene for comment.
The Democrats’ reaction was a reflection of the controversy swirling around Greene’s own bombastic behavior since arriving on Capitol Hill, which at times has played out on the House floor. During President Biden’s State of the Union address in February, the Georgia Republican yelled “liar” as the president delivered remarks on Social Security and Medicare.
And last month, Greene was silenced during a Homeland Security Committee hearing after she accused Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of being a liar.
Following the laughter, Greene said “the House will be in order” and recognized Scalise to continue talking on the floor.
“While some in this town might be interested in theatrics, House Republicans took action,” Scalise said, prompting groans in the chamber. “We passed a bill to address the problem, it’s time for my friends on the other side to start doing their job, call the Senate back in to take up the bill.”
“If they don’t like it they can amend it, that is part of the legislative process. Let’s get our jobs done; we’ve done ours, they need to do theirs,” he added.
Scalise took to the House floor Wednesday to inform lawmakers that they can leave Washington for Memorial Day weekend but should be prepared to return to the Capitol with 24-hours notice to vote on a debt limit ceiling as negotiations over raising the borrowing limit drag on.
For more than a week, Republican lawmakers and White House negotiators have been engaging in talks to come to an agreement. Pressure, however, has mounted in recent days as the calendar inches closer to June 1 — the day that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has warned the U.S. could default by.
After announcing the scheduling plans, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) spoke on the House floor to criticize the GOP bill and celebrate that all members of the Democratic caucus signed on to a discharge petition, which liberal lawmakers are hoping can be used to force a vote on legislation to increase the borrowing limit.
Democrats erupted in applause.
While all 213 Democrats have signed onto the petition, the caucus needs five Republicans to join their effort to reach the threshold of a majority of the chamber, which is needed to force a vote through the discharge petition. That, however, is an unlikely scenario as Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has called on GOP lawmakers to stand behind him in negotiations.
Clark, however, called on Republicans to join the Democratic effort.
“It only takes five patriots to join us in the fight for the American people. Join us, sign the petition, stay here and fight for American families, fight for their American security,” she added.
Updated on May 25 at 12:03 p.m.