South Carolina Senate Overwhelmingly Votes To Remove Confederate Flag
The South Carolina Senate has overwhelmingly voted to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the State Capitol:
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina Senate has given final approval to a bill to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the Capitol.
The 36-3 vote Tuesday now sends the bill to the House, where it faces a less certain future. Republicans met behind closed doors Monday and struggled to reach a consensus on what to do next.
The Senate bill would remove the Confederate flag flying in front of the Statehouse and the flagpole as soon as the governor signs it.
Republican Gov. Nikki Haley urged lawmakers to remove the flag after the killing of nine black people in a historic African-American church in Charleston last month by a gunman police say was motivated by racial hatred.
The matter now moves on to the South Carolina House where, at least according to some reports, it faces a tougher path:
The debate in the House is expected to be fiercer, and perhaps more protracted, than it was in the Senate, which on Monday approved the proposal to remove the battle flag by a 37-to-3 vote. But many people here expect that the House will ultimately support the plan, which would move the flag from its pole outside the State House to the nearby Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
The battle flag, which has flown above or near the State House for more than 50 years, emerged as a renewed political flash point after the killings last month of nine people at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston. The suspect in the massacre, Dylann Roof, had previously beenphotographed with the battle flag, and the authorities have described the June 17 assault on Emanuel as a hate crime.
The attack, which reverberated throughout this state, loomed large during Monday’s Senate debate. At one point, Senator Marlon E. Kimpson, a Democrat from Charleston, recited the names of the victims and then said, “God is with them, and they are watching us and encouraging us to live our creed.”
“If I have to put 500 amendments on this thing to keep it there, then I will do it,” Representative Christopher A. Corley, a Republican of Aiken County, told The Post and Courier, a Charleston newspaper, last month. “This is a nonissue that’s being made an issue by certain groups trying to take advantage of a terrible situation.”
If the House decides to amend the proposal, the Senate would have to agree to the changes.
In a statement on Monday evening, Ms. Haley pressed the House to move quickly after the Senate “rose to this historic occasion, with a large majority of members from both parties coming together in the spirit of unity and healing that is binding our state back together and moving us forward in the right direction.”
There have been signals, though, that the House could engage in an extended debate that would include putting the measure through the committee process. (The Associated Press reported on Monday that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, F. Gregory Delleney Jr., said he expected the proposal to bypass his committee and move directly to the floor for debate.)
“As you move toward the end of the year, it’s sometimes easier to bounce things between the House and Senate without going through committee, but that’s not usually done for something as momentous as this,” said C. Danielle Vinson, a political scientist at Furman University. “Some don’t want to drag this out, but some do.”
Depending on how things go in the House, the final bill could be ready for Governor Haley’s signature on Thursday and the flag could be down by Friday.