GOP Congressman Defends Cursing Out No-Good Teens at Capitol

Derrick Van Orden. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Representative Derrick Van Orden of Wisconsin didn’t get to Congress by being a timid guy. After using campaign funds to travel to the Stop the Steal rally, the Republican was seen in a restricted area on the Capitol grounds on January 6. After carrying a loaded handgun in his carry-on in an Iowa airport, he ran his successful campaign for the House under probation.

In that light, the controversies surrounding him this week shouldn’t come as a total surprise. In the wee hours of Thursday morning, a group of teenage Senate pages were resting on the ground in the Capitol rotunda — which is a regular occurrence when a session goes late. When Van Orden walked by, he went full get-off-my-lawn mode. “Wake the fuck up you little shits,” he said, according to one of the pages who spoke to The Hill. “What the fuck are you all doing? Get the fuck out of here. You are defiling the space you pieces of shit.” Van Orden asked, “Who the fuck are you?” When a teenager said they were pages, he said, “I don’t give a fuck who you are. Get out.” According to Punchbowl News, which broke the story, Van Orden was drinking in his office prior to berating the teens. (A spokesperson for Van Orden says he was hosting one of his regular “beer and cheese” tours for constituents.)

Yelling at teens isn’t new behavior for Orden. In 2021, a 17-year-old library worker in Wisconsin said she was “terrified” after Van Orden reportedly chewed her out over an LGBTQ+ books display — to the point that she said she didn’t feel safe working there anymore. But yelling at teens at the Capitol may not be so easy to get away with. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday night on the Senate floor that he was “shocked” to hear of the matter. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell backed Schumer up, saying that “everybody on this side of the aisle feels exactly the same way.” Other senators stood in support of the kids. “My message to out-of-line Members of Congress who yell at Senate Pages: Learn to respect others, especially kids,” Democratic senator Patty Murray tweeted.

But Van Orden has refused to back down. Speaking with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, he noted that the “Capitol rotunda served as a field hospital” during the Civil War and that “threatening a congressman with bad press to excuse poor behavior is a reminder of everything that’s wrong with Washington.” In response, Schumer said that he was “further shocked at his refusal to apologize to these young people.” Democratic representative Marc Pocan, who has criticized Van Orden before, took it up a notch with a question on Twitter: “Wonder if he told that to his fellow insurrectionists, who were beating police officers on the same ground?”

GOP Congressman Defends Cursing Out No-Good Teens at Capitol