Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) is standing by a remark he made last week questioning the patriotism of a Republican colleague who refused to support spending on transportation and infrastructure.
Asked after an event at a local restaurant if he had any plans to apologize DeFazio demurred. "There's ways to cut," DeFazio told local outlet KCBY. "Let's end the war in Afghanistan. That saves us $100 billion a year. Let's put that money here. We're building roads in Afghanistan that they say they can't afford to build here. Some people don't have their priorities on straight."
The debate was over a nonbinding motion to cut infrastructure spending by about $17 billion in 2013. Introduced Thursday by Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), the motion failed, garnering the support of 82 Republicans and no Democrats.
It was during during that discussion that DeFazio voiced his question. "Why do you hate this country so much?" he appeared to ask Broun, though he has since clarified that the remark was not directed at Broun personally so much as at Republicans broadly defined.
"I'm tired of their craziness, and we just need to push back with rhetoric that is as tough as theirs," DeFazio told Politico in an interview. "I meant what I said. Why do they hate the country so much that they don't want to make those needed investments to put millions of people to work? It's just that they hate Obama so much they want the economy to fail. That's all I can figure out. Either that or they're just nuts. One or the other and I said both those things. And I stand by it."
The comment wasn't received well by Broun, who has since gone on the offensive. "I resent being accused of hating America, and that angers me," he said, adding that he felt DeFazio was "not man enough" to apologize.
DeFazio, a top Democrat on powerful transportation and natural resources congressional subcommittees, will face a challenge in November from Art Robinson, the sole competitor for the GOP nomination in the 4th Congressional District. Robinson, a chemist who for the past 25 years has written a monthly energy newsletter, has described himself as "pro-science, pro-technology, pro-free enterprise," and has taken some perplexing positions, including the outlandish claim that AIDS is a myth.
See Robinson's full interview with Rachel Maddow here.