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Former Rep. Steve Rothman in 2009 (Photo: Office of Rep. Steve Rothman).

The time Steve Rothman nearly broke up a fight on the House floor

By David Wildstein, January 13 2023 5:40 pm

A tussle on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives last Friday between the 14th and 15th votes for Speaker of the House brings back memories of a near-fist fight between two congressman in 2007 that was broken up by Rep. Steve Rothman, a  New Jersey Democrat.

The Omaha World-Herald reported at the time that a local congressman, Lee Terry, nearly went at it when Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Chicago) said during a debate floor debate that Republicans could not be trusted.  Terry told Jackson to “shut up” and Jackson hurled some expletives toward the Nebraskan before asking him to step outside.

They two House members were separated by Rothman, who “stepped in and suggested that the two head to separate corners to cool off.”

Unlike the incident between House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers and Florida Rep. Matt Goetz, the Terry vs. Jackson altercation was not captured on C-SPAN, nor were Rothman’s heroic action.

Rothman and Jackson were friends. They served on the House Appropriations Committee together and traveled to Israel as part of a 2009 congressional delegation to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.  They two also had side-by-side lockers in the House Member’ gym, where Rothman swam a mile every day and Jackson worked on his martial arts kills.  They were also karaoke partners.

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