California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León took “full responsibility” for his controversial ejection of Republican State Sen. Janet Nguyen (R-Garden Grove) from the floor of the legislature last week, after she criticized late liberal State Sen. Tom Hayden for his opposition to the Vietnam War.
“Members, last Thursday was not one of the finest moments of the Senate,” de León said from the floor Monday, according to the Sacramento Bee. “Like many of you, I was troubled and unsettled by the actions last week. As the leader of this body, I take full responsibility for what transpired and for making sure it never happens again.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, Republican lawmakers commended de León’s statement, but condemned the Democrats for their infringement of free speech. They reportedly “demanded a formal apology for Nguyen and called for resignation of De León’s chief of staff, who they said made inappropriate comments about the incident to the media.”
Nguyen, who was born in South Vietnam, represents over 100,000 constituents of Vietnamese descent in her Orange County district. Last week, she took the floor to state that Hayden and others were been wrong about the war: “Members, today I recognize in memory of the millions of Vietnamese and hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese refugees who died in seeking for freedom and democracy,” she said.
“On Tuesday, you had an opportunity to honor. With all due respect, I would like to offer another historical perspective,” Nguyen continued before Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) rose and interrupted her, telling de León that she was “out of order.” Nguyen kept trying to speak when Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) repeatedly asked her to sit down, before calling for her removal, which was granted.
The Bee noted that on Monday, at the conclusion of his speech, de León offered Nguyen the opportunity to say what she was not able to last Thursday.
Before she spoke, she was embraced by and received handshakes from fellow lawmakers:
— Jazmine Ulloa (@jazmineulloa) February 27, 2017
“Thursday’s events were shocking and distressing,” Nguyen reportedly said. “But what happened today on the floor reaffirms my faith in America’s deep belief in the democratic process and freedom of speech. I am pleased to know that my colleagues recognize, that regardless of party or differences in opinion, every district voice deserves to be heard on this floor.”
Nguyen’s convictions quickly earned her statewide attention. Breitbart News reported that “this weekend, at the California Republican Party convention in Sacramento, Nguyen was hailed as a heroine for her stand.”
A report in the Los Angeles Times indicated that California Republicans have embraced her as the answer to liberal lion Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who was similarly silenced by Senate Republicans for attempting to label Attorney General Jeff Sessions as a racist, although Warren’s remarks were clearly against forum rules while Nguyen’s were permissible.
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