House Democrats and Republicans crossed swords over a resolution condemning Trump’s ‘racist’ tweets – and whether they could even call the tweets racist – leading to a procedural battle that overshadowed the actual vote.
Democrats rejected striking Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “out of order” remarks on Tuesday in a tense vote that pitted them against indignant Republicans – and even a member of their own party. The unexpected procedural hurdle pushed the actual vote – on whether to condemn the tweets themselves – forward into the evening as Pelosi herself stormed out of the chamber.
Ultimately, all House Democrats, four Republicans, and the sole independent Justin Amash (Michigan) voted to condemn Trump’s tweets as racist. But the vote on the main resolution was overshadowed by the preceding drama.
“Every single member of this institution, Democrat and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people,” Pelosi declared as the resolution was introduced, triggering the president’s defenders in the Republican party.
After giving the Speaker a chance to rephrase her comment – which she witheringly declined – Rep Doug Collins (R-Georgia) demanded it be struck from the record for violating House rules that forbid personal attacks against the president or fellow legislators, and Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (R-Missouri) scolded the chamber against making “personality-based comments.”
While Pelosi claimed she’d cleared her remarks with the parliamentarian, she had joked earlier in the hearing that she would do no such thing, according to The Hill. As House members debated with the parliamentarian over whether to strike the remarks, she dramatically left the chamber, breaking another rule – this one concerning members who’d potentially violated House rules being expected to stay on the floor.
Watching this “Real Housewives of Washington DC”-level drama unfold, Rep. Cleaver, who was presiding over the discussion, lost his faith in the process, literally dropping his gavel and walking off after denouncing both sides’ immaturity.
Pelosi was “proud to bring attention to” Trump’s tweets, she told reporters as she left the chamber – but eventually returned to the scene of the “crime” to defend her statement.
“Characterizing an action [of the president] as racist is not in order,” Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) declared when things settled down, citing procedural chapter and verse and declaring “the words should not be used in debate” after the parliamentarian ruled that they had indeed violated the rule against personal attacks.
Democrats blocked the move to strike Pelosi’s words from the record anyway, 232-190. They were joined by Justin Amash (Michigan), the former Republican who “declared independence” from the party earlier this month. A followup vote allowed Pelosi to retain her speaking privileges for the rest of the day.
The resolution that was the day’s actual big vote explicitly mentions “President Trump’s racist comments” in its title, risking a protocol paradox for Democrats stating its full name when voting on it, as there is precedent against calling the president a racist in the Jefferson Manual of Parliamentary Practice, the House’s procedural rulebook. But House rules are broken all the time, anonymous Democrats told Fox News in private – Collins’ objection was merely meant to distract from Trump’s tweets, which after all were the reason they were gathered in the chamber in the first place.
Trump continues to deny the tweets were racist.