Nebraska Delegation Reacts to "Dark Day" in D.C.

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June 14, 2017 - 6:15pm

Nebraska's congressional delegation is looking for signs of unity following a shooting that injured a top House Republican leader and several others on a baseball field in Alexandria, Virginia outside Washington, D.C. Wednesday.


Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was wounded in the attack by a gunman who targeted congressmen practicing for a charity baseball game. A congressional aide, lobbyist and two Capitol Police officers were also injured. The gunman was shot and killed by police.

Nebraska First District Congressman Jeff Fortenberry called Wednesday a “dark day” in Washington following the shooting, which may have been politically motivated.  Fortenberry said it left him “shocked” and “numb.”

“It’s very difficult to get the mind around how political discourse which is becoming increasingly acerbic can turn to targeted violence against an elected official. It’s deeply disturbing,” Fortenberry told NET News in an interview. 

Fortenberry said representatives from both sides of the aisle got together privately Wednesday to talk about how their own words can add to or detract from the public discourse. 

“In our closed door meeting with Democrats and Republicans there was a resurgence of the need to not only watch our own language, our own pointed language at one another, and how this type of division here translates in the country, and there was a real sense of unity during that time and then afterwards on the House floor," Fortenberry said.  

During the public meeting of the House, Fortenberry said he made a “conscious decision in the moment” to sit with the Democrats. He said he did that because he thought it was important to express unity.  

Nebraska Second District Congressman Don Bacon condemned the actions of the shooter.  He says Americans need to become a more unified people.

"We’re a better country than this. We’ve got to raise the bar on civility. At the end, we’re all Americans," Bacon said. "We have so much more to be unified on than what separates us. We’re just going to have to stand back, maybe take a knee, and rethink what we’re doing."

Congressman Adrian Smith, who represents Nebraska's Third District, also condemned the shooting, saying the actions of one individual don't represent the attitudes of millions of Americans. 

"This kind of violence should never be seen as a solution," Smith said. "It's counter-productive. It certainly runs inconsistent with what I hear from both sides of the aisle.  It's obviously a disturbed person.  We don't know exactly what triggered that action on his part, but clearly it's unacceptable."

All three Nebraska representatives praised the Capitol Police for responding quickly and bravely to the attack.

Editor's Note: Click the audio link at the top of this article to listen to NET News' full interview with Nebraska First District Congressman Jeff Fortenberry.

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