Missouri Congressman Yells: ‘Go back to Puerto Rico’ Across House Chamber


Rep. Jason Smith, representing Missouri’s 8th Congressional District is receiving public outrage after yelling “Go back to Puerto Rico” to a group of Democrats during Thursday’s House debate on the partial government shutdown. Smith reportedly stated that he made the comment after his Democratic counterparts who visited Puerto Rico last week on a congressional delegation.

However, Rep. Tony Cárdenas a Democrat from California believes that the slur was intended for him. The slur was met with uproar and hollering from fellow GOP members who when asked, claimed that they had no idea where it originated.

Last weekend, Cárdenas organized a trip for him and several other Democrat members whose mission was to check on the well-being of federal workers working in Puerto Rico during the shutdown. Cárdenas stated that although Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory; while growing up in California he would often hear remarks like this directed towards him.


Rep. Smith apologized for making the comment and further stated that he had not intended it to be discriminatory but rather was expressing his frustration with Democrats he believed were “vacationing” during the partial government shutdown.

“I should not have done it, the outburst on the floor,” Smith said. “It was a reaction to them vacationing while the government was shut down. I was up here last weekend working with (Republican House Leader) Kevin McCarthy and everyone else, trying to come up with a plan” to end the shutdown.

Cárdenas said he appreciated Smith’s call, and the two plan to get together when the House returns to session Tuesday to become better acquainted. While the outburst might have offended some House members and Puerto Ricans, it seems like both Congressional members intend to work past the incident toward a solution to reopen government.

As tension rises both sides are working to solve the partial government shutdown. At the moment however, a partisan battle still ensues between House Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Trump who have reached an impasse on a bill to fund government spending, including the President’s demand for  $5.7 billion to fund his border wall in Mexico.

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett sent a letter to the White House on Friday urging the President to reopen government and addressed reports that showed the President may be considering diverting disaster relief to fund his border wall.

So far Democrats have rejected President Trump’s new offer and are asking the President to fund the government with the bills originally passed by Congress. The President has pledged to end the shutdown once funding for his border wall is appropriated.

Cárdenas said Smith called him a few hours later and “sincerely apologized,” agreeing that the two should get to know each other better when Congress returns next week.

Featured image courtesy of Roll Call

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