GOP committee chair tells Waters: ‘Respect diversity of opinion’

Sitting side-by-side in a congressional hearing on Wednesday, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, openly criticized comments made by Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, the top Democrat on the committee

Hensarling, with Waters in the chair to his right, used part of his opening remarks at a hearing with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to oppose those calling for the heckling and harassing of Trump Cabinet members in public spaces, as Waters encouraged people to do this past weekend.

“For those who daily promote diversity, I would call upon them to respect diversity of opinion, which is the single most important form of diversity in a free and democratic society,” the Texas Republican said.

Last week, before Waters made her comments, activists had already shouted at Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen at a restaurant in Washington and after White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant in Virginia.

Hensarling lamented the country’s history of segregation, saying “there was a time in America’s history where you could be denied service in a restaurant based on the color of your skin.”

“Now, apparently, it’s the color of your voter registration card,” he continued.

Hensarling, who’s from Texas, said he didn’t own a restaurant but that if he owned one, his colleagues with different political views would be welcome. He invited them to choose a restaurant in Dallas — “Tex-Mex or barbecue, take your pick” — so they can sit down and discuss their views.

“And should my supporters be in that restaurant, the only thing I would call on them to do would be to show you respect and to surround you with Texas friendly hospitality,” he said.

Waters responded a few minutes later during her remarks, saying it was President Donald Trump’s fault for setting a bad example.

“He has been the one that has caused what we see happening today where people are trying to push back on his policies and where people are trying to have peaceful protests,” she said.

The California Democrat went on to read examples from the 2016 presidential campaign when Trump encouraged his supporters to use physical force against protesters.

“So Mr. Chairman,” Waters said to Hensarling, “if you want to talk about civility, you start with the President of the United States and you implore him not to continue to promote violence, not to continue to promote divisiveness — and then I think he would be a better example. And I think people would follow a better example, rather than get trapped into what he’s advocating, which is violence.”