Waters-King Verbal Slugfest Spills Over Onto House Floor


The highly partisan Whitewater hearings ignited a two-day bout of verbal fisticuffs between Rep. Maxine Waters and a New York Republican that continued on the House floor Friday, bringing proceedings to a brief halt when the Los Angeles Democrat wouldn’t stop talking.

After a huddle with parliamentarians, House Speaker Thomas S. Foley (D-Wash.) ruled Waters out of order for not heeding the repeated requests and urgent gavel-poundings of the lawmaker in the chair, Rep. Carrie Meek (D-Fla.). Waters was then allowed to resume, but had nothing more to say.

The conflict began Thursday evening during the House Banking Committee hearings into Whitewater when Waters told Rep. Peter T. King to “shut up” after she objected to his pointed questioning of witness Margaret Williams, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s chief of staff.

On Friday, an angry King took to the House floor to chide Waters, saying the remark, “even for the gentlelady from California, went to a new low.”


“She’s not going to tell me to shut up. She’s not going to tell the American people to shut up. And I’m not going to stop until we get to the root of Whitewater,” King said.

Later, Waters got up and accused King of badgering Williams. “I’m pleased I was able to come to her defense . . . the day is over when men can intimidate and badger women.”

Republicans objected to the word badger , and then Waters triggered a parliamentary uproar when she continued speaking after Meek’s attempts to halt her.

At that point, House business ceased for about 20 minutes as Foley effected a solution: It was OK to say badger , but it was not OK to keep talking. Waters’ remarks after the gavel fell were stricken from the record.


Waters said she never intended any disrespect to the chair and mistakenly thought Meek was telling the upset Republicans to hush.

The whole affair spoke volumes about the state of sexual equality in Congress, Waters said.

“Women are new to this place. Women are supposed to know their place. I exercise my rights and it’s new for men. It’s not easy for them to accept women as equal partners,” she said.