Pent-up rage on both sides of the aisle erupted on the House floor Wednesday, resulting in a war of words in which a member questioned if President Joe Biden is the President of the United States.
Rep. Anthony Sabatini, a Republican from Howey-in-the-Hill and a congressional candidate who has irritated both Republicans and Democrats with his history of outspoken statements, battled for time to discuss a measure (HB 1B) that would prohibit COVID-19 requirements.
Sabatini promised members he would be direct and to the point. He was accurate on both points, stating right away that the law did not go far enough. He then issued a demand to reclaim state authority from the federal government.
Republicans in the back rows began yelling in response to such statements. Democratic Whip Ramon Alexander summoned Speaker Pro Tempore Bryan Avila to the rostrum, declaring Sabatini out of order for referring to Biden as a tyrant. Avila, a Republican from Miami Springs, instructed Sabatini to keep his comments on the bill to himself.
“We don’t know if he’s truly the President, if that’s your question,” Sabatini answered, alluding to the long-debunked conspiracy theory that former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election.
Sabatini’s sentence elicited a mixture of boos and wows from the audience. Alexander raised his point of order once more, calling Sabatini a shame to the Republican Party.
Avila then instructed members to tone their statements regarding Biden and Gov. Ron DeSantis, who was chastised by Democrats during floor debate this week.
However, tensions were rising even before Sabatini was permitted to participate in discussion on Wednesday.
Despite being one of the first to call for a Special Session to reform COVID-19 policies, Sabatini was not initially scheduled to testify on the bill, which has become a trend for the firebrand.
Sabatini “threw a tremendous fit,” according to one legislator, after being informed he couldn’t speak.
Sabatini requested Majority Leader Mike Grant for time, but he refused. He then approached the rostrum and requested Avila for a chance, but was turned down. He then attempted to contact House Speaker Chris Sprowls to request time.
Grant eventually drew Sabatini and Brevard County Rep. Randy Fine away and gave them each two minutes to argue the bill during the time given for those in favor of it. Fine declined the offer.
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