House Votes To Condemn Trump’s Racist Statements On Party-Line Vote
For the first time in a century, a chamber of Congress has voted to condemn a sitting President. That won't stop this President.
Yesterday, on a party-line vote in which only four Republicans crossed the aisle, the House of Representatives voted to condemn the President for his racist tweets directed at four Democratic women in Congress:
WASHINGTON — The House voted on Tuesday to condemn as racist President Trump’s attacks against four congresswomen of color, but only after the debate over the president’s language devolved into a bitterly partisan brawl that showcased deep rifts over race, ethnicity and political ideology in the age of Trump.
The measure, the first House rebuke of a president in more than 100 years, passed nearly along party lines, 240 to 187, after one of the most polarizing exchanges on the floor in recent times. Only four Republicans and the House’s lone independent, Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, voted with all Democrats to condemn the president.
“I know racism when I see it, I know racism when I feel it, and at the highest level of government, there’s no room for racism,” said Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, an icon of the civil rights movement.
Some Republicans were just as adamant in their defense of Mr. Trump: “What has really happened here is that the president and his supporters have been forced to endure months of allegations of racism,” said Representative Dan Meuser, Republican of Pennsylvania. “This ridiculous slander does a disservice to our nation.”
Republicans ground the proceedings to a halt shortly before the House was to vote on the nonbinding resolution, which calls Mr. Trump’s tweets and verbal volleys “racist comments that have legitimized increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It was the Democrats’ response to Mr. Trump’s attacks on Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, who he said should “go back” to their countries, an insult that he has continued to employ in the days since.
“There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong, unified condemnation,” Speaker Nancy Pelosi said as the House debated the resolution. “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets.”
As Republicans rose to protest, Ms. Pelosi turned toward them on the House floor and picked up her speech, her voice rising as she added, “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.”
Representative Doug Collins of Georgia, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, made a formal objection to the remarks, charging that they had violated the rules of decorum, which call for lawmakers to avoid impugning the motives of their colleagues or the president. It was a stunning turn in a debate about Mr. Trump’s own incendiary language.
Mr. Trump on Tuesday denied that his tweets were racist and implored House Republicans to reject the measure. The president raged on Twitter, calling the House resolution a “con game” as he renewed his harsh criticism of the congresswomen.
“Those Tweets were NOT Racist,” Mr. Trump wrote. “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body! The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game. Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap.”
Late Tuesday, the president praised how the Republicans voted, tweeting, “So great to see how unified the Republican Party was on today’s vote concerning statements I made about four Democrat Congresswomen.” .
Not surprisingly, the House Republican Caucus largely stood together in voting against the resolution. This came after Kevin McCarthy, the House Minority Leader, denied in a morning press appearance yesterday that the President’s tweets were racist. That, combined with the fact that, as usual, the Republicans on Capitol Hill are basically afraid to stand against this President for fear of arousing the ire of him and his rabid base. In the end, only four Republicans — Fred Upton of Michigan, Susan W. Brooks of Indiana, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Will Hurd of Texas — joined the entire Democratic Caucus and newly independent Congressman Justin Amash in voting for the resolution. Of these Congresswoman Brooks has already announced her retirement and many believe that Congressman Upton will announce his in the near future. Congressman Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, barely won his General Election battle last November and as a result, likely feels freer to break from his party. Finally, Congressman Hurd is the only African-American Republican member of the House and had already condemned the Presidents comments as racist so his vote was not at all surprising. Beyond that, though, the House GOP remained united and continue to insist that the real issue is the allegedly radical politics of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the other members of the so-called “squad” that became the targets of the President’s attacks.
As noted, this vote by the House is historic in that it has been well over a century since either chamber of Congress has taken the step of admonishing a sitting President in this matter. In the end, though, there’s little practical impact beyond this purely symbolic one. The Senate, of course, is not going to hold a vote on a similar resolution and even if it did and the resolution passed there would be no legal impact. Perhaps if we had a President concerned about how history is likely to view him, a move like this might cause them to apologize and be more circumspect about their rhetoric in the future, but we don’t have that.We have Donald Trump, who doesn’t care if he becomes known as a racist President and obviously doesn’t care what anyone beyond his base thinks about anything. Congress can pass measures like this every day and they’ll have no impact at all on the President’s behavior. That alone should tell you all you need to know about this President.