During a heated exchange with constituents last week in Washington regarding issues with President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act and the website, longtime New Jersey Democratic Rep. Frank Pallone called the proceedings a “monkey court,” a remark some people found offensive and appalling.
On Thursday, congressional committee members questioned dozens of contractors who were hired to develop the Healthcare.gov website that went live Oct. 1. The site has experienced a multitude of program glitches and technical problems that have delayed the widespread enrollment of thousands of people for health insurance. Contractors and other developers of the website are being criticized by politicos and others for failing to effectively oversee the problems plaguing the site. Many Republicans, however, are defending contractors and contend that the Obama administration was remiss in developing the site.
In a caustic exchange on the congressional floor with Republican Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, Pallone shouted, “So once again here we have my Republican colleagues trying to scare everybody!” Barton asked Pallone to yield the floor to other comments, and Pallone shouted, “I will not yield to this monkey court or whatever it is!”
Pallone, 62, later explained that he was frustrated, as many Americans are, with the delay and blockage of complete and efficient implementation of Obamacare. “The purpose of being a congressman is to help people,” he said. “And this is one of the most important ways to help people—to provide them with insurance.” Pallone dismissed the notion that his comment was a slur against anyone.