Rep. Derrick Van Orden speaks about border security during a visit to Tucson, Arizona with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. | Screenshot from video on Rep. Van Orden’s official Facebook page
Wisconsin Republican Rep. Derrick Van Orden cursed out a group of high school-aged Senate pages for taking pictures on the floor of the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday night, Punchbowl News reported Thursday.
Pages work for the Senate carrying and delivering legislative materials and assisting lawmakers during floor debates. The pages who Van Orden yelled at were taking the photos during their last week on the job.
Punchbowl News reporter Jake Sherman reported that while the pages were on the floor, Van Orden, using several expletives, called them lazy and told them to get off the floor.
“Wake the f— up you little s—-. … What the f— are you all doing? Get the f— out of here. You are defiling the space you [pieces of s—],” Van Orden said, according to an account of the incident provided to The Hill by a page.
“Who the f— are you?” Van Orden asked, to which one person said they were Senate pages. “I don’t give a f— who you are, get out.”
“You jackasses, get out,” he added.
Van Orden said in a statement that he thought the pages were being disrespectful by lying on the floor because the Capitol rotunda was used as a field hospital during the Civil War.
“The Capitol Rotunda served as a field hospital where countless Union soldiers died fighting to free men in the Civil War,” Van Orden said. “I have long said our nation’s Capitol is a symbol of the sacrifice our servicemen and women have made for this country and should never be treated like a frat house common room. Threatening a congressman with bad press to excuse poor behavior is a reminder of everything that’s wrong with Washington. Luckily, bad press has never bothered me and if it’s the price I pay to stand up for what’s right, then so be it.”
In 2021, Van Orden used campaign donations to attend the protest in Washington D.C. that ultimately led to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Despite saying he did not enter Capitol grounds, photos and reports have placed him beyond police barriers that day.
The first-term congressman has a history of incidents involving teenagers. In 2021 staff members of the Prairie du Chien library accused him of harassing a 17-year-old library employee over a display of LGBTQ-related books.
Van Orden, who represents western Wisconsin’s 3rd Congressional District, has also been criticized for sharing in his 2015 book that while serving as a Navy SEAL he exposed another man’s swollen genitals to two female officers.
He has also been fined for trying to bring a gun on an airplane in his carryon luggage.
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