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.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Donald Trump, Politicians, Race and Politics, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. al Ameda says:

    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.

    I agree that this will not change Trump one iota. It is no doubt red meat for his base, however, it does not expand his base at all. This is more motivation for his base, but they were and are already motivated.

    I do think it actually motivates the active Democratic base that showed up in 2018. These people needed to see if the Party had the nerve and the stomach to take this to the House Floor and put it right in Republican faces.

  2. michael reynolds says:

    Put another way, the Republican Party is now an unmistakably, incontrovertibly racist party. Anyone still in the GOP supports white racism and white supremacy.

    Anyone who excuses their support of the racist party by reference to the economy needs to ask themselves just how many pieces of silver they’ve earned for betraying the United States, its Constitution and the principles of human liberty and equality.

    10
  3. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Just fuqing say it…193 members of the Republican House Caucus stood up and voiced their support for abject racism.
    From the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

    Ethnic slurs and other verbal or physical conduct because of nationality are illegal if they are severe or pervasive and create an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment, interfere with work performance, or negatively affect job opportunities. Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, “Go back to where you came from, ” whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.

    Republicans believe this is acceptable.
    If you support Dennison, and the Republicans, then you are in fact a racist.
    After yesterday there is no question about this any longer.

    11
  4. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Beyond my comment, above, I want to just say that this is all a distraction on Dennison’s part.
    He is knee deep in Epsteins pedophilia.
    He surrendered on the Census question.
    Russia is selling military hardware to Turkey…in defiance of the US.
    He is in court trying to take away the health care of millions of people.
    The list of his troubles goes on.
    As long as we are talking about his racism…which we have all known about for decades…we are not talking about his myriad other failures.

  5. grumpy realist says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Yes….this is probably very much a case of “look! a squirrel!” to keep Trump’s own marks chugging along and not taking notice of the other stuff going on.

  6. CSK says:

    @grumpy realist: Nothing well discourage Trump’s base. Nothing.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    Comment from one of my favourite writers:

    Donald Trump says he doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. In which case the racism must be found in his soft tissue. A breakthrough in scientific research

    –John Crace

  8. michael reynolds says:

    Trump is not spewing hatred to distract, he’s spewing hatred because that’s what the Republican Party has been all about for decades. Now they feel liberated. In their sick little minds they’ve decided to prove they aren’t racist by being openly racist and pretending it’s something else. I joke that I’ve re-labeled driving as a form of exercise so now I’m in great shape. They’ve just decided to label ‘racism’ as ‘not racism.’ This isn’t some clever Trumpian plan, it’s just pure id. The only thing he’s ‘up to’ is feeding the hogs.

  9. Gustopher says:

    I think this gives a preview of how an impeachment vote would go — if the Republicans will lock step declare that “go back where you came from” is not racist, they are not persuadable on high crimes or misdemeanors no matter what comes out in impeachment hearings.

    And, add to that that if 10% of Democrats have concerns about impeachment (Democrats don’t do lock step well), it fails in the House, and the President claims to be completely exonerated by this Democrat Kangaroo Court Witch-hunt.

    This vote is a reminder of just how close the House is, and just how careful Pelosi has to be to ensure that if the Democrats do try impeachment, that they get all the Democrats on board.

    This president should be impeached. If impeachment cannot work here, then either the concept of impeachment is completely broken, or America is completely broken.

    I’m a little sad now.

  10. DrDaveT says:

    @Gustopher:

    If impeachment cannot work here, then either the concept of impeachment is completely broken, or America is completely broken.

    It could always be both.

    This uplifting observation brought to you by Republicans for a Warmer Tomorrow.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: As someone pointed out, kicking the board, sending pieces flying in all directions, is a form of three dimensional chess.

  12. Moosebreath says:

    @grumpy realist:

    That reminds me of a comment made about a British politician following a cancer biopsy which came back favorably.

    “It is a triumph of medical science that they found the only part of him which is not malignant and removed it.”

  13. grumpy realist says:

    @Moosebreath: God I love British snark….

    (P.S. If you haven’t read John Crace’s political reports over at the Guardian, you’re missing a treat. He’s the one who came up with calling Theresa May “the Maybot” and added to her advisors The Four Pot Plants.)

  14. Matt says:

    @CSK: Exactly all they really seem to care about is making liberals mad or at least believing that he’s making liberals mad.

  15. Teve says:

    Ashley Parker
    @AshleyRParker
    And we have a new chant: When Trump begins attacking Rep. Ilhan Omar, the crowd began shouting, “SEND HER BACK! SEND HER BACK!”
    7:46 PM · Jul 17, 2019