HARRISBURG — June is always a tense month in the state Capitol, a time when the workload is crushing, patience runs thin, and tempers sometimes flare.
Usually, those scraps blow over quickly.
But one of the state's most conservative lawmakers, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler), is now saying that an "unhinged" and "crimson-faced" Philadelphia lawmaker — whom his office later identified as Democratic State Rep. Brian Sims — threw papers at him and berated him after a hearing last month on emotionally charged legislation involving "sanctuary cities."
In a video Metcalfe distributed Wednesday, he does not identify the Philadelphia lawmaker by name. But he said that after the hearing — during which he told colleagues that supporting the bill should be easy for "any patriotic American" — the Philadelphia legislator threw the papers. Metcalfe includes footage of that scene.
The Philadelphia lawmaker, Metcalfe said, then went to Metcalfe's office and told his secretary that she worked for a "bigot."
"When I later passed by him on the House floor, he called me an ignorant, racist bigot," Metcalfe said on the video, called "The Metcalfe Minute," which his office distributes regularly to constituents, supporters, and others.
"This is just another example of blatant, liberal intolerance by the radical left who would rather support lawless, illegal aliens instead of protecting American citizens," Metcalfe says. "We must continue to defeat the left, defeat unruly progressive mobs, and defeat all other enemies of liberty."
Sims, the first openly gay representative to be elected to the state legislature, declined to be interviewed.
But his office did not deny the exchange with Metcalfe. And in a statement, Sims said Metcalfe can "belittle me for being gay, treat Democrats, especially those from Philadelphia, with contempt and disrespect, and advocate for right-wing legislation that is antithetical to the values of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But I would not allow him to question my patriotism or the patriotism of my Democratic colleagues, who include active and retired members of the military."
Sims added that he remained silent during Metcalfe's "tirade" during the committee hearing, but "as a Democrat and a Philadelphian, I cannot in good conscience back down from a bully or sit idly by when my colleagues, friends, and neighbors are bullied."
Metcalfe did not respond to a request for an interview.
The sanctuary cities bill would, among other things, withhold state funds from cities like Philadelphia that have policies against cooperating with federal authorities in detaining undocumented immigrants.
Metcalfe and Sims have a history — and it's not a good one.
In 2013, Metcalfe tried to prevent Sims from speaking on the House floor about two U.S. Supreme Court rulings that bolstered same-sex marriage.
In an interview with NewsWorks/WHYY at the time, Metcalfe said that he did not believe anyone should be allowed to make comments on the House floor that "ultimately were just open rebellion against what the word of God has said, what God has said, and just open rebellion against God's law."
Sims then asked his colleagues on the House floor to formally reprimand Metcalfe for those comments.
"It is my understanding of the rules of this body that I could never call another member a bigot, a homophobe or a racist, nor would I," Sims said at the time. "But I do ask that this body recognize that the language used against me as a member does not live up to the standards set by this body."