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At State Capitol, apology from Speaker McCluskie for hostage slip-up

By all accounts, the Feb. 5 visit to the State Capitol by six Israeli families of hostages or those killed by Hamas, was deeply appreciated by the visiting Israelis.

However, one smoldering item remained.

The Israelis’ visit to the House floor was cancelled by Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon). The introduction was moved to the Senate chamber, with assorted House members attending.

This rankled some members of the House Republican caucus, who sent a letter to McCluskie on Feb. 6.

“We are deeply disturbed by your decision to prevent the families of the victims killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists to be recognized on the floor of the House of Representatives,” the letter said.

“Your decision allowed a few activists to silence the voices of those who were victims of terrorism.

“The behavior of extreme members of the Majority caucus stifled the ability for the House Members to hear the voices and stories of families who traveled here from Israel in our own House chamber.”

In a statement issued to the IJN, McCluskie denounced the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas and apologized for poor communication around the hostages’ families’ appearance at the Capitol.

“The Hamas terrorist attack on October 7th was an atrocity, and my heart continues to break for the victims, their families and those still held hostage in Gaza,” McCluskie’s statement read. “I hope for their swift return, and I stand with their loved ones who came to Colorado to advocate for their release.

“My highest priority when I made the decision to host the families in a joint ceremony in the Senate (with the House recessed to allow Representatives to participate) was to ensure a respectful and meaningful recognition that would honor the message and experience these families came to share.

“While I believe we accomplished that goal in our joint ceremony, I acknowledge that I made mistakes in my communication about the visit, and I am sorry for the hurt that caused.

“I welcome the feedback I have received, and I have learned from this experience. I have had many productive conversations with leaders in the Jewish community, and I look forward to continuing to learn, support the community and work together to address the rising anti-Semitism we are seeing in Colorado and nationally.”

Rep. Ron Weinberg (R-Loveland) was among the caucus members not pleased with McCluskie’s decision.

“I do respect her (McCluskie) as a person greatly,” Weinberg told the IJN. “I just think she was in the wrong this time.

“These people who came to visit us are just hurting. The whole reason I was trying to invite these people to the House is to be able for our members to look them in the whites of their eyes and hear their hearts when they speak.

“I love the speaker to death, and she’s a very good friend of mine, but in legislative terms, I think she sees she made a mistake.”

McCluskie removed Rep. Elisabeth Epps (D-Denver) from the House Judiciary Committee after Epps disrupted House proceedings with anti-Israel remarks not germane to the single subject of a special session — tax relief — late last year, and then repaired to the House gallery and shouted down Rep. Weinberg.

Copyright © 2024 by the Intermountain Jewish news

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IJN Staff Writer | [email protected]

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