WASHINGTON — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says that anyone using harsh rhetoric to raise fears about the healthcare overhaul should apologize and get on with writing policy but that there's no reason to single out a Florida Democrat who said Republicans want sick Americans to "die quickly."
"If anybody's going to apologize, everybody should apologize," she said when asked Thursday about Rep. Alan Grayson's comments on the House floor this week.
Pelosi's response reflects what Democratic aides have said privately since Grayson's remarks sparked an uproar: that Republicans have routinely said with impunity that Democrats want to "pull the plug on Grandma" or create "death panels" to decide who deserves care and who doesn't -- even though no such provisions are in any version of the healthcare legislation.
"Apparently Republicans are holding Democrats to a higher level than they are holding their own members," said Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
Republicans have drafted a resolution that would put the House on record as disapproving of Grayson's remarks but have not yet tried to bring it to a vote.
Grayson has stood behind his remarks, saying his speech Tuesday night was an accurate description of how Republican healthcare proposals would treat thousands of Americans who go without care because they don't have insurance. He has cited a study showing that nearly 45,000 people die each year for lack of insurance.
He has mocked Republican calls for an apology, calling the GOP "foot-dragging, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals."
Republicans are seeking payback from a Democratic-led reprimand of Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who last month shouted "You lie!" at President Obama during his speech to a joint session of Congress.