GOP silences McGovern over Trump remarks

U.S. REP. JIM MCGOVERN

U.S. REP. JIM MCGOVERN

By ALEXANDER MACDOUGALL

Staff Writer

Published: 05-23-2024 7:23 PM

For the first time in his 27-year career in Congress, U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern had his remarks on the floor of the House of Representatives struck from the record on Wednesday, after he criticized former U.S. President Donald Trump for his numerous federal indictments.

“This is cancel culture; this is them trying to silence people like me,” the Worcester Democrat, who represents a majority of Hampshire and Franklin counties, said in an interview with the Daily Hampshire Gazette on Thursday. “They feel uncomfortable when we tell the truth.”

Members of the House of Representatives had been debating several pieces of legislation regarding proposed bills on citizen voting in Washington D.C. and on cryptocurrency regulation when McGovern criticized the bills as frivolous and denounced House Republicans for pandering to extremism rather than bipartisanship. He noted that several prominent GOP members had gone to New York to support Trump in an ongoing criminal trial.

“Republicans are skipping their real jobs to take day trips up to New York to try to undermine Donald Trump’s criminal trial. No time to work with Democrats, but plenty of time to put on weird matching cult uniforms and stand behind President Trump with their bright red ties, like pathetic props,” McGovern said on the House floor. “Maybe they don’t want to talk about the fact that the leader of their party is on trial for covering up hush money payments to a porn star for political gain, not to mention three other criminal felony prosecutions he’s facing.”

The presiding speaker, Republican Jerry Carl of Alabama, immediately followed McGovern’s remarks by reminding members of Congress to “refrain from engaging in personalities toward presumed nominees” for president. McGovern subsequently made an inquiry challenging that statement, saying he had merely stated facts about Trump’s legal troubles, noting that last week Rep. Chip Roy, R-Texas, referred to the trial as a “sham” on the House floor.

“We have a presumptive nominee for president facing 88 felony counts, and we’re being prevented from even acknowledging it,” McGovern said on Wednesday. “He’s also charged with conspiring to overturn the election. He’s also charged with stealing classified information. And a jury has already found him liable for rape in a civil court. And yet, in this Republican-controlled House, it’s OK to talk about the trial, but you have to call it a sham.”

McGovern was then interrupted by Rep. Erin Houchin, R-Indiana, who demanded that McGovern’s remarks be taken down from the record. That resulted in a lengthy pause in the House as Carl determined whether McGovern had violated any rules. Carl eventually ruled that McGovern was in fact in violation, and the Massachusetts congressman was barred from speaking for the rest of the day.

The ruling meant that McGovern wasn’t allowed to speak for the remainder of the day, including in discussion regarding a national agriculture policy bill, known as the “Farm Bill,” something McGovern told the Gazette directly affects many of his constituents in rural parts of Hampshire, Franklin and Worcester counties.

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“Republicans wanna cut $30 billion of the Nutrition Title, and it’s also a bill that would hurt farmers in my district,” McGovern said, referring to a section in the bill that provides for food assistance programs. “Under this sanction, I couldn’t even rise to be recognized or to call for a vote.”

But McGovern also said he was happy that the striking of the record of his remarks seemed to only amplify his statements to the wider American public.

“They thought they were going to silence me and maybe shut me up and then nobody would know what was going on, but they turned this into a spectacle,” McGovern said. “News organizations picked it up, TV stations picked it up. … We’re getting tons of calls from all over the country.”

At a press conference on Wednesday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries also defended McGovern’s statements.

“Apparently there are people on the other side of the aisle who want to try to silence Jim McGovern because he waxes the floor with them every time he speaks,” Jeffries said. “That makes them uncomfortable, and they just can’t handle it.”

The striking of McGovern’s remarks comes a week after a House committee last week also faced disruption after Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, and Jasmine Crockett, D-Texas, traded personal insults during debate. That also led to calls for statements to be struck from the record.

“I was merely pointing out some basic facts without insulting anybody, without mischaracterizing anything,” McGovern said. “I can’t do that, but Marjorie Taylor Greene can come to the floor or a committee and say whatever she wants.”

Alexander MacDougall can be reached at amacdougall@gazettenet.com.