“I think we all know that words matter,” Hensarling said.
“I also lament, as I look back, that there was a time in America’s history where you could be denied service at a restaurant based on the color of your skin. Now apparently, it’s the color of your voter registration card,” Hensarling said, in a reference to the debacle involving White House press secretary Sarah Sanders getting kicked out of a Virginia restaurant last week.
“To all my colleagues, particularly those who don’t agree with my political views, I don’t own a restaurant,” Hensarling went on. “But if I owned a restaurant in Dallas, I want you to know you would be welcome there and I’d be proud to be seen with you.”
Waters, the top Democrat on the committee, didn’t take the comments sitting down, but instead called out Hensarling for his apparent hypocrisy, and urged her Republican colleagues to recognize who she characterized as the chief instigator of toxic rhetoric in the current political discourse: Donald Trump.
“Mr. Chairman, if you want to talk about civility, you start with the president of the United States and you implore him not to continue to promote violence, not to continue to promote divisiveness,” Waters said.
“Let me just say,” Waters went on, “I think every reasonable person have concluded that the president of the United States of America has advocated violence, he has been divisive, and he has been the one that has caused what we see happening today, where people are trying to push back on his policies.”
Waters has been embroiled in a war of words with Trump since last week.
Trump tweeted his third attack aimed at Waters on Wednesday: “Congratulations to Maxine Waters, whose crazy rants have made her, together with Nancy Pelosi, the unhinged FACE of the Democrat Party. Together, they will Make America Weak Again! But have no fear, America is now stronger than ever before, and I’m not going anywhere!”
Earlier in the week, Trump called Waters a person of “extraordinarily low IQ” and in another tweet, he said Waters was the “face of the Democratic party.”
“But he continues to call names and he continues to challenge people in very violent ways,” Waters said during the hearing, quoting Trump’s statements from the 2016 campaign trail in which he attempted to incite violence against protesters at his rallies.
She has also accused the president of lying and misrepresenting her statements after Trump tweeted that she had called for harm on Trump supporters.
Another Democrat on the committee, Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan, came to Waters’ defense and agreed it’s the president who should be called out.
“I am very frustrated to see the ease with which some members of this body are willing to criticize some on the other side of the aisle, but not their own,” Kildee said, directing his comments to Hensarling.
“I fear that I see so many who are suddenly invertebrate when it comes time to criticize the chief architect of the devolution of our public dialogue and that’s the president of the United States,” Kildee said.
The Congressional Black Caucus also came to Waters’ defense on Tuesday.
“In exercising her constitutional right to freedom of speech at a recent rally, Congresswoman Waters did not, as she has made clear, encourage violence, like President Trump has been doing since the election. She, instead, encouraged Americans to exercise their constitutional rights to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly by letting President Trump and members of his Administration know that separating young immigrant children from their parents is not who we are as a country,” said Congressman Cedric Richmond, chairman of the CBC in a statement.
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