Nikki Haley, Lindsey Graham To Call For Removal Of Confederate Flag (Update: Senator Tim Scott As Well)
The tide has turned.
South Carolina Nikki Haley will reportedly call for the Confederate flag flying on the grounds of the State Capitol to come down at a press conference later today:
Gov. Nikki Haley will hold a news conference in Columbia at 4 p.m. today at which, sources said, she will call for the Confederate flag to come down from the Statehouse grounds.
The move comes as lawmakers are exploring if the removal can be done legislatively in the coming days, tying their heightened attention to the recent shooting deaths of nine members of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston.
Haley’s office would not confirm what the discussion would be.
Lawmakers have an unfinished budget, but are considering using the current extended session to address wording that would remove the flag from the Confederate monument as part of the 2015-16 state spending plan.
Another avenue being explored is adding wording that would include legislation to remove the flag in the continuing work resolution.
The flag was removed from the Statehouse dome and from inside the two chambers in 2000 as part of a compromise that put it on permanent display next the Confederate soldier’s monument. It would take a vote of two-thirds of both houses to remove it as the law was written.
House Speaker Jay Lucas issued a statement today saying “the intense and difficult debate that took place in 2000 over the Confederate soldier flag was ultimately resolved by compromise. Wednesday’s unspeakable tragedy has reignited a discussion on this sensitive issue that holds a long and complicated history in the Palmetto State. Moving South Carolina forward from this terrible tragedy requires a swift resolution of this issue.”
His message did not specify a targeted resolution or path.
The Statehouse regular session closed June 4 but matters have lingered into a limited session to pass a budget compromise.
CNN is also reporting that Senator Lindsey Graham will join in Haley’s call, changing the position he iterated last week:
South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham will call Monday for the removal of the confederate flag from state grounds, a source familiar with the decision told CNN.
Graham, a 2016 presidential candidate, will make his announcement during a press conference with South Carolina’s Republican governor, Nikki Haley, at 4 p.m. Monday.
He will call for the flag to come down and be put in a museum.
Graham has been quietly urging his fellow elected representatives inside South Carolina over the past few days to make this move.
South Carolina’s Junior Senator has previously said that he would vote to take the flag down, but he’s also said that he would refrain from speaking publicly on the matter until after the funerals for the victims of the Charleston murders out of respect for the families. Given the speed with which the issue has moved, that no longer seems possible and there is apparently some possibility that Senator Scott will be with Governor Haley for her press conference later today. (Update: The Post & Courier is now reporting that Senator Scott will be joining Haley and Graham in calling for the flag to be removed.)
As a practical matter, there are apparently some technicalities that the legislature would have to get beyond in order to consider legislation to deal with this issue in the special session that starts tomorrow. However, with the weight of the three most powerful statewide elected officials behind the idea of taking the flag down, and the eyes of the nation on the Palmetto State in the wake of the attack in Charleston, the outcome seems to be inevitable.