It didn't take long for House and Senate lawmakers to call for lowering the partisan hostility following Wednesday's brutal shooting spree by a gunman who first asked the party affiliation of his Republican victims before taking aim at them on an Alexandria, Va., baseball field.

Shaken GOP lawmakers nearly killed by shooter James Hodgkinson returned to the Capitol hours later with a sense of fear that the rhetoric aimed at each other in recent months has escalated dramatically, perhaps to the point of inspiring a madman to grab a gun and shoot members of a political party some say he had been encouraged to despise.

Hodgkinson's social media trail depicts a man who was deeply angered by the GOP agenda and President Trump, who Democrats denounce daily on Capitol Hill. On the House floor Wednesday, leaders in both parties made emotional calls for unity.

Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., received a standing ovation following remarks that emphasized a connection between the two parties that prevails despite the frequent and intense partisan bickering.

"For all the noise and fury, we are a family," Ryan said. "These were our brothers and sisters in the line of fire."

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Ryan's speech and added, "we will use this occasion as one that brings us together and not separates us further."

But the real test will come as lawmakers get back to business, where Republicans have accused Democrats of moving slowly on Trump's appointments and Democrats accuse Republicans of working in secret on the Senate version of the healthcare bill.

Indeed, not long after their calls for unity, lawmakers devolved into finger pointing.

By Thursday, Pelosi suggested Fox News was partly to blame for "a lot of the vitriol and invective" in politics, noting that a man who was arrested for threatening her years ago had been, according to the man's mother, an avid Fox News viewer.

"It may be inflamed, I don't know," Pelosi told reporters. "This mom said it was Fox News."

Pelosi said the partisanship began escalating in the 1990s and was instigated by the GOP, who relentlessly investigated President Clinton and eventually impeached him.

The most liberal Democrats suggested last week that the divisive mood has most recently escalated thanks to Trump, who during his campaign flung crude insults at the media, Democrats and his own party.

"I don't blame the president for this, I don't blame any single political figure for this, but for whatever reason, unleashed in our country is more anti-semitism, more racist talk, more racism," Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said. "And the president should be the healer in chief. Instead, this president has chosen to divide and name call and that doesn't serve this country. It probably doesn't serve his interest. It certainly doesn't serve his party's interest."

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who has served in the Senate for four decades and often laments the dearth of bipartisanship, said lawmakers are letting the rhetoric go too far these days.

"It's better to realize that everybody here is a good person, and everyone here is trying to serve their constituents as best they can," Hatch told the Washington Examiner.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who dodged the bullets on the baseball field and helped treat the shooting victims, including the grievously injured Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said the vitriol has long been out of control in the Capitol.

"There are a lot of reasons the rhetoric needs to tone down, absent of this," said Flake, who often tries to cut bipartisan deals.

Long gone, he said, are the bipartisan retreats and other group activities that connected the two parties and facilitated friendship, legislative deals and a more civil tone in the halls of Congress.

"We don't have much of that anymore," Flake said. "It would help. I'm not saying that would have prevented this shooting, but in general, we need more of that."