Speaker Mattiello calls heated exchange on House floor ‘hiccup’

House Speaker Responds to Fight on House Floor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The morning after a meltdown on the House floor, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello reacted to what had happened.

The tense shouting match surrounded the topic of Black History Month. Mattiello was not on the rostrum at the time. Instead, it was his colleague, Deputy Speaker Charlene Lima, D-Cranston. She tried to cut off lengthy remarks by Rep. Joe Almeida, D-Providence, only to be reprimanded by Reps. Anastasia Williams and Ray Hull, also Providence Democrats.

Mattiello eventually had to come to the rostrum to restore order.

“The House is running exceptionally smooth. We had a hiccup yesterday, there’s no question about it,” Mattiello, D-Cranston, told reporters Wednesday after an unrelated event.

When asked if he would have done something different if he were at the rostrum, Mattiello said, “I’m not going to second-guess anybody. In the final analysis, we had good people and I’m sure that several of the members of the floor as well as Deputy Speaker Lima probably regret what happened and perhaps would have done things differently.”

Mattiello said Lima and Almeida are both “super well-intentioned.” 

The speaker said everyone needs to be sensitive and understanding of each other, later adding, “What you do in any workplace, and when we’re on the floor, that’s kind of our workplace, is you respect others, you don’t talk out of turn, and you address the body through the presiding officer and that just didn’t happen.”

“So there’s plenty of decisions that I would have made different from a lot of different perspectives if I was there, because reasonable minds can differ and human beings do make mistakes,” he said.

Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

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