A Democratic congressman lost his composure to Matt Gaetz in the House of Representatives Thursday night, shouting that the far-right Republican was “tiring.”
Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford singled out Mr Gaetz while delivering an impassioned speech in defense of diversity, justice and inclusion initiatives in the military and denouncing shocking racist remarks by several Republican Party members in recent days.
On Thursday, House Republicans introduced an amendment to a military spending bill that urges banning diversity, equity and inclusion programs from the Department of Defense (DOD).
Mr Horsford criticized the move, warning it would hamper efforts to improve diversity in the military.
“This amendment does nothing to address the recruitment deficits our services face; rather, it will only make it more difficult to recruit Americans from diverse backgrounds who represent the true make-up of our nation,” he said.
At this point he turned and addressed Mr. Gaetz directly, his voice rising.
“What are you so afraid of? Why do you keep bringing these controversial issues to this plenary?” he asked before shouting, “You’re out of order! You are exhausting, Herr Gaetz!”
Mr Gaetz – who is currently the subject of a revived investigation into his alleged wrongdoing by the House Ethics Committee – complained about Mr Horsford’s actions.
“Mr. Speaker, the childish antics we have just witnessed show that we have much work to do, both in this House and in the military, to ensure that no radical racial ideology dictates our discourse and the political decisions we make bills,” he said.
During the heated debate, Horsford, who is Black, also condemned comments by Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville – who has repeatedly defended white nationalists – and Republican Rep. Eli Crane – who had previously used the term “people of color” in the House of Representatives.
“Just this week, the sponsor of this amendment referred to diversity, equity and inclusion in the military as a, quote: ‘failed experiment.’ He has labeled it ‘cancerous,'” Mr Horsford said.
“Just this week, an Alabama senator said he believed white nationalists were not necessarily racist and refused to denounce white nationalists who served in the military.”
He continued, “Just an hour ago, one of the members on the other side of this panel on this floor said his amendment, quote, has nothing to do with whether black people or black people can serve.”
Mr Horsford said such comments from lawmakers “show exactly why we need diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives”.
Mr Crane faced an immediate backlash on Thursday night when he defended the change in law by using the offensive term for people of color.
“My amendment has nothing to do with whether black people or black people or anyone can serve. It has nothing to do with any of this,” Mr Crane said.
The comment was widely condemned and eventually dropped from the record.
Meanwhile, Mr Tuberville – who blocked confirmation of senior military officials in protest at the Department of Defense’s abortion policy – has repeatedly refused in recent months to condemn white nationalists as racists.
“I call them Americans,” he said in May.
Then this week he claimed that he couldn’t possibly be racist because he worked with a lot of people of color during his time as a football coach. Finally, on Tuesday, he withdrew his defense of the white nationalists, now admitting that they were “racists.”
After Thursday’s heated debate, members of the House of Representatives voted on the amendment.
The Republican-majority House of Representatives passed the amendment by just one vote, 214 to 213, rejecting diversity initiatives in the military.