Nightly News   |  July 30, 2010

Weiner rant gets heavy cable rotation

Videos of Rep. Anthony Weiner's emotional outburst at his congressional colleagues during a 9/11 health care reimbursement debate led Friday on the internet and cable TV. NBC's Kelly O'Donnell reports.

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This content comes from a Full-Text Transcript of the program.

ANN CURRY, anchor: Back now with a story of a House on fire . The US House of Representatives erupted in a display of anger and passion that we often don't see. We've got NBC 's Kelly O'Donnell on Capitol Hill this evening. Hey, Kelly , what happened there?

KELLY O'DONNELL reporting: Well, good evening, Ann. When the issue is 9/11 and we're talking about paying medical bills for first responders who are still sick today, you know the feelings run deep. And then add to that a bitter partisan fight, and one congressman came unhinged with the kind of outburst we usually don't see around here.

Representative ANTHONY WEINER: Members say, `We want amendments!'

O'DONNELL: New York Democrat Anthony Weiner is known as an emotional guy, but this landed him on cable TV all day.

Rep. WEINER: The gentleman will observe regular order and sit down! I will not! The gentleman will sit! The gentleman is correct in sitting.

O'DONNELL: It was all about a bill to spend $7 billion on medical expenses for ground zero workers with long-term illnesses. But the real fight was over Democrats using their power to deny Republicans a chance to offer amendments.

New York Republican Peter King: What we are doing tonight is a cruel hoax and a charade.

Representative PETER KING: King is all for helping first responders, but he and his fellow Republicans wanted to throw in a ban on health care for illegal immigrants. Democrats block that.

O'DONNELL: The majority party is petrified of having its members face a potential vote on illegal immigration.

Rep. KING: He is wrong! The gentleman is wrong! The gentleman is providing cover for his colleagues rather than doing the right thing! It's Republicans wrapping their arms around Republicans rather than doing the right thing on behalf of the heroes! It is a shame, a shame!

Rep. WEINER: Well, the bill failed. Only 12 Republicans voted for it, including Congressman King of New York . And if you're wondering why Democrats couldn't get this through with a simple majority -- they have so many more members -- well, under the rules, because Democrats chose to block the other side from making any amendments, they had to get more votes, two-thirds of the House , and Democrats fell short. Ann :