Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, says the tone that Congress is setting is sending ripples across the country. During practice on Wednesday in Alexandria, VA, a man shot GOP House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-LA, two U.S. Capitol police officers, a congressional staffer and a lobbyist.
Scalise is in critical condition from being shot in the hip. The other victims are recovering from their injuries.
Cleaver hopes members will watch their tone.
“People in Washington, perhaps unintentionally, helped create the atmosphere for people who might have a little mental problem to go out and do these kinds of deeds,” says Cleaver. “Members of Congress have helped create this partisan poison that is now in everybody’s world,” says Cleaver.
The gunman, 68-year-old James Hodgkinson of the St. Louis area, is dead.
“Had the Whip not been there, we probably would have had carnage at a never before seen level in terms of elected officials being shot,” says Cleaver.
U.S. House and Senate leadership must travel with security officers at all times.
Cleaver says members have been standing united after Wednesday’s shooting and he hopes it will continue. The western Missouri Congressman served as a Methodist Church pastor for about 37 years.
“This would be a good time for us to spiritually go into a moment of introspection and look at what we do and what we say and how it might contribute to poisoning the mind of someone like the demented shooter,” he says.
Cleaver will be cheering on his colleagues at tonight’s game. Thousands are expected to attend the annual game, which features Democrats against Republicans.
“It may be the only off-campus bipartisan thing that I can describe right now. I think it’s very healthy for us. We raise money for a very good cause,” says Cleaver. “I think it gives people a chance to see each other in another light. Athletics tend to bring people together.”
The event is projected to raise about $650,000 for the Boys and Girls Club.
Listen to the full interview with Congressman Cleaver: