SACRAMENTO -- Republicans in the California state Senate are calling for an investigation into the forcible ejection of Senator Janet Nguyen, even as Senate Pro Tempe Kevin De Leon took responsibility for what happened and vowed it would never happen again.
It was a scene more reminiscent of bouncers operating in a bar than the state Senate of California. Nguyen, a Republican from Garden Grove, was grabbed and escorted off the floor during last Thursday's session.
"If this were outside the Senate chambers, where we would have concrete rules about these things, it definitely could have been considered battery. It was a physical removal. It was humiliating and demeaning,” said the Republican leader, State Senator Jean Fuller of Bakersfield.
Nguyen was making remarks critical of the late Senator Tom Hayden who, as part of his protest of Vietnam War, openly supported communist North Vietnam. It’s the same regime Janet Nguyen's family was fleeing when she arrived in America.
In the video from the Senate floor Thursday, you can still hear her shouting her opinion of Hayden's work as she's being led out.
Social media buzz around the Capitol on Monday suggested some Republican senators were planning to wear stickers over their mouths during the day’s session in solidarity with Nguyen.
But it never go that far.
"As the leader of this body, I take full responsibility for what transpired. And for making sure, it never happens again," said De Leon.
While it was Senator Richardo Lara presiding while Nguyen was booted, Nguyen had previewed her comments for De Leon the night before.
"Thursday's events were shocking and distressing. But what happened today reaffirms my faith," Nguyen said in comment from the Senate floor Monday.
Still, the vastly outnumbered Republicans in the California Senate weren't so easily assuaged by the day's overtures from the Dems.
"It’s a first step. We still need to see an investigation in a fair and open public setting. We still need to see what the consequences of that investigation are," Fuller said.
In his statement from the floor, De Leon said every senator needs to learn the rules of the Senate floor and to practice those rules with decorum.
Thursday the Democrat leadership justified Nguyen's removal by saying the timing of her remarks was out of order -- a claim the Republicans reject.