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House's condemnation of Trump may just be the beginning

Jason Dick, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON -- Although Tuesday's long day of heated debate ended with the House voting to condemn President Donald Trump for racist tweets, the chamber's brawl over the president's behavior may be just beginning.

The House voted, 240-187, to approve a nonbinding resolution that says the chamber "strongly condemns" Trump's "racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color."

Getting there was an extraordinary journey stretching more than six hours. Lawmakers spent much of the afternoon in emotional upheaval, with members on both sides of the aisle seeking to strike their colleagues' words from the record, including those of Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Members who are immigrants affirmed their love of the USA in stark terms. And then an eight-term lawmaker, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II of Missouri, abruptly dropped the gavel and left the presiding officer's post -- a move that members and longtime chamber observers said was unlike anything they had ever seen before.

The House's majority Democratic leadership went forward with the resolution after Trump's comments from Sunday, when he tweeted that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna S. Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." (Only Omar, a refugee from Somalia, was born outside the United States.)

"I am a proud naturalized citizen born in India, a proud patriot, a proud person who belongs in this country. And it's not the first time I've heard, 'Go back to your own country.' But it is the first time I have heard it coming from the White House," Washington Democrat Pramila Jayapal said shortly before the vote on the resolution.

The hours before the vote, though, were tumultuous.

 

During the debate, with Cleaver presiding, Jayapal made a request that comments from Wisconsin Republican Sean P. Duffy calling some fellow members of Congress "un-American" be taken down.

Cleaver ruled that her request was out of order. And then Pelosi came to the well to deliver remarks.

"Every member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us to condemn the president's racist tweets," the California Democrat said.

Georgia Republican Doug Collins interjected unsuccessfully, but once Pelosi was finished speaking, he made the Californian an offer.

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