Rep. David Scott sat through a tongue-lashing from his Democratic colleagues Friday afternoon after casting one of the caucus's few yes votes in favor of a three-week funding bill for the Homeland Security Department.
Seated in front of the fireplace in the House Speaker's lobby—a position he'd held most of the afternoon—Scott suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a tirade from Rep. Corrine Brown. "You are making a mistake!" Brown shouted, in full view of reporters. "The strength of the wolf is in the pack. You are voting with these damn Republicans! What is wrong with you?"
Scott pleaded that he had to vote for his constituents, only to find Rep. John Lewis on the other side of him, saying that he too had plenty of DHS workers in his district. Soon, Congressional Black Caucus Chairman G.K. Butterfield and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver joined the huddle, begging Scott to change his vote.
"I'm not voting with them," Scott said, meaning Republicans. "I'm voting for my district." Butterfield countered: "You've been here 16 years. You can explain."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi briefly joined the scrum, leaning in behind Scott to say something out of earshot of reporters. As the group started to break up, Rep. Lacy Clay looked over his shoulder at Scott. "You know what you've got to do," he said.
Alone now, Scott remained in his chair, not yielding to the pleas of his colleagues. Approached after the dustup, the Atlanta representative was unrepentant. "I represent more TSA agents than anybody," he said. "I represent the world's busiest airport. I represent the counties where they live. "¦ When I walk through that airport—'Congressman, you're looking out for us.' I tell them I'm going to do everything I can to keep their check coming."
Asked what he told his colleagues, Scott said his message was the same. "I'm just voting for my district, the people that vote for me," he said. "Hey, you'll have to just excuse me on this one."
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.