Rep. Joe Wilson said Sunday he will not apologize again for yelling out that President Obama lied during the president’s speech to Congress last week.
“I am not going to apologize again,” the South Carolina Republican said on “FOX News Sunday” when asked about pending disciplinary steps against him by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Wilson said he already apologized to Obama and that the president accepted it. However, he insisted that Obama “was misstating the facts,” and that Democratic leaders in the House were “playing politics” by continuing to focus on the issue. The controversy has shifted the focus of the heated health care debate by calling attention to claims by Republicans that a health care overhaul sought by Obama and Democrats would provide free insurance coverage for illegal immigrants. Obama and Democratic leaders insist that nothing in any of the health care proposals currently before Congress includes health care coverage for illegal immigrants or would provide taxpayer money to help illegal immigrants buy private health coverage. However, Wilson and other opponents of Democratic proposals say the plans provide no enforcement mechanism to screen applicants for citizenship requirements. Wilson said Sunday that Republican amendments calling for such enforcement were rejected by congressional committees that have passed the Democratic proposals.
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When asked if Obama had lied to Congress, Wilson responded: “I believe he was misstating the facts.” He noted that Senate Finance Committee members negotiating a compromise agreement have called for enforcement mechanisms similar to what Republicans are proposing. The national response to Wilson’s nationally televised outburst, in which he yelled “You lie” as Obama spoke about health care to a joint session of Congress, shows the deep public divide over the issue. Wilson and his opponent for re-election next year have each raised more than $1 million since Wilson’s heckling of the president on Wednesday, according to aides for each. In addition, Wilson has posted a Web video that asks for campaign cash to fend off attacks from political opponents. House Democrats plan to censure Wilson if he refuses to apologize on the House floor this week. Immediately after Obama’s speech Wednesday, Wilson issued a statement that apologized for inappropriate behavior. He also called the White House that night and spoke to Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who told Wilson that Obama accepted his apology. Wilson said Sunday that should be enough, adding that he respected the president and “would never do something like that again.”