Congressman Joe Wilson catcalls president during address to Congress

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President Obama made his pitch for health care reform before a joint session of Congress last night. KPCC’s Washington Correspondent Kitty Felde was in the House gallery last night when one member called the president a liar.

Kitty Felde: As the loyal opposition typically does, Republicans grumbled when President Obama argued that a public health care option was not a “government takeover” of health care. Some mumbled “read the bill” when he denied claims of so-called “death panels” that would require Americans to make end-of-life choices.

But many members were taken aback when South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson shouted “You lie!” after the president said the Democratic proposal would not cover illegal immigrants. Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis of Redlands said he could understand the passion, but not the action.

Jerry Lewis: Anybody who would catcall the president of the United States addressing this body is very, very inappropriate and he’ll hear from a lot of us about that.

Felde: Democrat Doris Matsui of Sacramento was more sanguine.

Doris Matsui: It had a sort of town hall feeling there. But I’ve never quite seen that happen. On the other hand, this is the people’s house, I suppose.

Felde: Congressman Wilson later issued an apology for what he called his “inappropriate and regrettable” comments.

The House floor was silent for a full six minutes when the president spoke of the man who made health care reform the centerpiece of his Senate career: the late Ted Kennedy.

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