Image: Randy Neugebauer
Scott J. Ferrell  /  Getty Images file
Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas.
updated 3/22/2010 2:18:49 PM ET 2010-03-22T18:18:49

A Republican congressman from Texas on Monday admitted he shouted “baby killer” from the House floor as Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., defended his change of position on health care legislation on Sunday. But Rep. Randy Neugebauer said that his remark was a comment on the bill itself and not directed at the Michigan lawmaker.

"In the heat and emotion of the debate, I exclaimed the phrase 'it's a baby killer' in reference to the agreement reached by the Democratic leadership," Neugebauer said in a statement released by his office. "While I remain heartbroken over the passage of this bill and the tragic consequences it will have for the unborn, I deeply regret that my actions were mistakenly interpreted as a direct reference to Congressman Stupak himself.

"I have apologized to Mr. Stupak and also apologize to my colleagues for the manner in which I expressed my disappointment about the bill. The House Chamber is a place of decorum and respect. The timing and tone of my comment last night was inappropriate."

Neugebauer's statement put to rest a whodunit that had political junkies on the edge of their seats late Sunday and early Monday.

The comment could be clearly heard in C-SPAN footage of the debate after the House’s passage of the health care overhaul legislation.

The voice yelled at Stupak, D-Mich., as he spoke in defense of a deal he made with the White House to drop an amendment he co-authored in exchange for assurances that President Barack Obama would issue an executive order stating that no federal funds from the legislation would be used to pay for abortion coverage.

Suspicions immediately focused on the California and Texas delegations, based on the accounts of several lawmakers who said the voice emanated from the area where they were seated.

Reporters quickly quizzed members after the vote and continued to press for a name on Monday to no avail, though several lawmakers indicated they either knew or had a good idea who the speaker was.

Video: Health reform leaves political rifts unhealed Democratic Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, who was presiding over the debate at the time, told the Talking Points Memo that he knew who yelled at Stupak but  “doesn’t see any point” in identifying the speaker.

“I think people have a right to make a fool out of themselves every once in a while without causing Armageddon,” he said.

At least two Republican lawmakers — Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Tom Price of Georgia — told Politico that they believed the comment was shouted from the gallery.

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For his part, Stupak said he didn’t see who made the remark.

Several Republican lawmakers who were publicly identified as suspects felt compelled Monday to issue press releases denying they had used the phrase, including Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas and George Radanovich of California.

The breach of decorum on the House floor comes about six months after Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., yelled “You lie!” at Obama when he spoke to a joint session of Congress.

The House later passed a resolution, largely along party lines, saying Wilson’s conduct was a breach of congressional decorum that brought “discredit to the House.”

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