Freshman Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Wisconsin) yelled at a group of high school-aged Senate pages while giving a tour of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month.

The Senate’s page program invites teenagers to intern at Capitol Hill and allows them to complete menial tasks for lawmakers, such as preparing the chamber for sessions and carrying bills and amendments on the floor. They are usually nominated by their home state senator.

Van Orden reportedly saw some of the students lying on their backs in the Capitol Rotunda after hours, taking photos of the building’s dome. According to a transcript taken by one of the students, he told them to “get the f— up” off the floor, claiming that they were “defiling the space” and calling them “lazy s—.”

During an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal, Van Orden did not deny his outcry but did criticize the actions of the pages.

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“I would think it’d be terribly disrespectful to lay on the grave of a soldier that died fighting for freedom, and I don’t know anybody that disagrees,” he said.

Van Orden told The Hill that the Capitol “should never be treated like a frat house common room. Threatening a congressman with bad press to excuse poor behavior is a reminder of everything that’s wrong with Washington. Luckily, bad press has never bothered me and, if it’s the price I pay to stand up for what’s right, then so be it.”

Van Orden is known for his outbursts; he reportedly berated a teenage librarian over an LGBTQ  book display in June 2021. He was also present at the Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021, prompting Democrats to question how much he truly respects the Capitol.

“Wonder if he told that to his fellow insurrectionists, who were beating police officers on the same ground?” tweeted Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin) after reading the Journal Sentinel article.

Van Orden has not yet apologized to the pages, despite calls to do so.

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