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US lawmakers say political environment on Capitol Hill is 'toxic'

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
US Republican congressman Fred Upton

Two members of the US Congress have described the atmosphere on Capitol Hill as "toxic," between the Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

“It's pretty toxic. There is no question about it," Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told a CNN host on Sunday, the Washington-based Hill newspaper reported.   

"I mean, just before we adjourned probably for the Christmas break, one of our members had their words taken down, usually you just apologize. You just say, 'You know what, I was wrong.' And you just sit down and life goes on. And no, he couldn't speak the rest of the day.  I mean, he stood by the words that he had, but you know, you've got metal detectors now going on the House floor. We get really nasty threats at home.  The tone gets, you know, tougher and tougher. It is a pretty toxic place. I've never seen anything like this before.”

Representative Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) also expressed similar views when she joined Upton on CNN.

"I want the American people to think about what's happening in our country, that this kind of hate, this fear is happening in communities across the country," Dingell said. "We need to really worry about our democracy and find a way that you can disagree with people and do it in a civil and agreeable way, and it really does have me very worried.”

Both Representatives were asked about the House select committee investigating the January 6 protest march on the Capitol as an example of lawmakers coming together to conduct oversight despite a toxic political climate.

"I mean, it was a scary day," Upton said of January 6. "And that's why I voted to have an independent commission. We passed it in the House. A good number of Republicans supported it, it didn't happen in the Senate.”

"I have a lot of friends on the other side and what we need to do is to all of us, get back to just remembering how much we have in common, just respecting each other, treating each other with dignity," Dingell added. "And I say to everybody, a little act of kindness towards anybody can make the difference in that person's day, week, or life.”

Democratic lawmakers believe that the deadly January 6 attack on Capitol Hill was an insurrection at the instigation of then US President Donald Trump.

On January 6, 2021, Trump supporters occupied the US Capitol while lawmakers were in the process of reviewing the certification of state electors which indicated Biden's victory. Some Trump supporters had hoped that this process could have resulted in some of the electors being disqualified, thus overturning the outcome of the presidential election.

It is claimed by some that the demonstrators were infiltrated and incited by provocateurs from US intelligence agencies, who orchestrated the “false flag operation” in order to get rid of Trump.

Some among the crowd clashed with police, and some made threats to beat up a number of Democratic lawmakers. Some also inflicted damage on parts of the Capitol building.

Trump has been casting doubt on the outcome of his loss by insisting it was the result of fraud. He has said that the 2020 presidential election was “the greatest Election Hoax in history.”

Trump’s claims have significantly delegitimatized the democratic process in the United States. A recent poll has found that at least 50 percent of Republican voters surveyed believe their vote will not be counted accurately the next time they cast a ballot.


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