Capitol Hill Bureau Chief
Rep. Eric Cantor, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said Thursday that a bullet had been shot through the window of his campaign office in Richmond, Va., in the last week.
Cantor, the Republican whip, revealed the attack in a statement decrying violence and threats of violence directed at members of Congress this week. He also demanded that Democratic leaders stop blaming conservative protesters or Republican members of Congress for the heightened tension in the Capitol.
"I have received threats since I have assumed elected office, not only because of my position, but because I am Jewish," Cantor said. "I have never blamed anyone on this body for that, period. Any suggestion that a leader in this body would incite threats or acts of violence against other members is akin to saying that I would endanger myself, my wife or my children."
In addition to the shot fired at his office, Cantor said that he had received threatening e-mails, but declined to release them because he felt it would only encourage more of the same.
Cantor is the most recent member of Congress to disclose threats or acts of violence against them since the health care reform bill passed on Sunday. Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) had a brick had thrown through the window of her campaign office in Niagara Falls, N.Y.; Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Va.) said his brother's house had been vandalized; and Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) released voice messages that included death threats against his family.
Cantor said that the threats should be treated as law enforcement matters, and strenuously objected to suggestions that Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader John Boehner, shared any responsibility for them.
"It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain," he said. "Enough is enough."
Slaughter and others have pointed to statements such as Sarah Palin's tweet this week urging conservatives "do not retreat, RELOAD!" as examples of Republican leaders "fanning the flames" of anger among those angry about the passage of the health care bill. Boehner also predicted in an interview this week that Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) would be "a dead man" after voting for the reform bill.
Other House leaders also addressed the growing security concerns.
Boehner spoke of "a grass-roots revolt" against the health care bill, but said that "violence of any kind is unacceptable." He also stressed that he meant Driehaus would only be a "dead man" in the political sense.
Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi lamented the threats against lawmakers, but also said she does not blame Republican leaders for them. She said that the atmosphere of anger has not changed her members' willingness to vote for the health care bill again, which will likely happen later tonight when the Senate is expected to complete its work on the reconciliation bill.
"Our members are undeterred," she said.