WASHINGTON — The House passed an amendment to restrict display of the Confederate flag at federal cemeteries with 84 Republicans in support of the Dem proposal.
Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) introduced the amendment to a Department of Veterans Affairs spending bill. Families would still be able to place small Confederate flags on individual graves at VA cemeteries on Memorial Day or Confederate Memorial Day. But any larger-scale display of the Confederate flag would be prohibited.
“Symbols like the confederate battle flag have meaning,” Huffman wrote this morning on his Facebook page before the vote. “They are not just neutral historical symbols of pride, they represent slavery, war, and tragedy. To continue to allow national policy condoning the display of the Confederate battle flag on federal property is wrong and disrespectful to our past.”
“Even General Robert E. Lee recognized that symbols of the Confederacy are symbols of treason—which is why he asked that they not appear in his funeral,” Huffman added. “In 2016, the House should be at least as forward-looking as Robert E. Lee was in 1869.”
Dozens of Republicans agreed in the 265-159 vote.
One Democrat — Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) — voted “no.” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) voted “present.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters at her weekly press conference today that “this is an initiative from the members,” not Dem leadership.
“I certainly support what Congressman Huffman and his colleagues…are putting forth,” Pelosi added.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) acknowledged that last year the proposal, attached to an Interior Department bill, “stopped the appropriations process in its tracks.”
“What changed is we have to get through these things. And if we’re going to have open rules in appropriations, which we have, which is regular order, people are going to have to take tough votes. And I think people are acknowledging this,” Ryan told reporters at his press conference today.
“This is the kind of conversation we’ve had all along with our members, which is tough votes happen in open rules. People have got to get used to that fact. That’s the way regular order works… I think people realize that the last thing we should do is derail our own appropriations process.”