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Republicans on Attack Over Joe Wilson Resolution

(AP Photo/Harry Hamburg)
Republicans have gone on the attack over House Democrats' decision to offer up a resolution of disapproval against Rep. Joe Wilson for shouting "you lie!" during President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress last week.

"In another stunning example of hypocrisy, congressional Democrats are wasting taxpayers' time and resources on a legislative measure to censure Congressman Joe Wilson so they don't have to talk about their exceedingly unpopular health care plan," said Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele in a statement.

"If we are going to march members down to the well of the House to apologize, Joe Wilson is going to have to get in line behind Nancy Pelosi, who attacked the intelligence community who protects us, Charlie Rangel who cheated on his taxes, Jack Murtha – a walking scandal, and we all know how the Democratic leadership tried to protect William Jefferson," added Steele. "Democrats don't want an apology. They want a side show."

House Republican leader John Boehner has also criticized the move to censure Wilson, calling it "petty partisanship."

"Last Thursday, Speaker Pelosi said that she believed it was time to move on and discuss health care," he said in a statement. "I couldn't agree more, and that's why I plan to vote 'no' on this resolution."

Indeed, Pelosi initially indicated that she would not act against Wilson, but other Democratic leaders pushed for the resolution. Wilson apologized to the president for the outburst but vowed not to apologize separately to his fellow House members.

The House Rules Committee on Tuesday morning issued guidelines reminding members about the rules of decorum, which were first written by Thomas Jefferson, reports CBS News' Bob Fuss. They say you can attack the president's policies but not use "personally offensive criticism" against him.

The guidelines, which you can see here, come with examples. It seems a House member can say a president's position is a "disgrace to the country," or that members of his administration are "half-baked nitwits." But you can't call the president a "liar" or a "hypocrite."

Also apparently off limits: To "refer to the President as 'giving aid and comfort to the enemy,'" and to "refer to alleged 'sexual misconduct on the President's part.'"

Democrats are not united in the move to informally censure Wilson. While Congressional Black Caucus head Rep. Barbara Lee suggested that the resolution is necessary for the sake of "civility and decorum of the House," the Associated Press reports that Rep. Barney Frank sees things differently.

"I think it's bad precedent to put us in charge of deciding whether people act like jerks," he said. "I don't have time to monitor everyone's civility."

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