House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) tried unsuccessfully today to force a floor vote on a bill that would ban all Confederate flags from the Capitol.
That resolution — introduced June 23 by Mississippi Democrat Bennie Thompson — would end up stripping the flag of Mississippi from House grounds.
Thompson appealed yesterday to House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) to swiftly bring up his bill.
“After my resolution was voted into the Committee on House Administration before the most recent recess, my Republican colleagues hoped that the issue would just fade away but I am calling for immediate hearings and/or committee action on the resolution,” Thompson said. “In my letter to the committee, I encouraged my colleagues to follow up on the nice things they said on the House floor during the debate and take real action.”
Pelosi offered Thompson’s resolution on the floor today, and the House voted 238-176 to refer it back to the Administration Committee.
Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Fla.) was the only GOP to vote with the Dems. Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, voted “present” before changing her vote to side with the rest of her caucus.
“The Speaker offered a thoughtful and responsible way to address this issue and Pelosi responded with a cheap political stunt,” Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said in a statement.
In a press conference with key House Dems afterward, Pelosi noted that on the 147th anniversary of the 14th Amendment, “on that very day the Republicans had to take down their appropriations bill [because] they feared losing 100 of their members… they needed something worse.”
“They were more afraid of what those 100 members might come to floor and say in defense of the Calvert amendment,” she said. “…Let’s not wait one more minute to take down the flag in the Capitol.”
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) said in a statement today that he brought a motion to strip Dem amendments banning the flag in federal cemeteries and national park gift shops because it “was brought to me by leadership at the request of some southern members of the Republican Caucus.”
“We need action. We’ve had this conversation for 150 years now,” CBC Chairman Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.) said, panning House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) suggestion of a bipartisan commission to study what to do with the flag.
Thompson brought a posterboard of the Mississippi flag to the press conference. “Some of my colleagues really paid attention to it for the first time, and they jumped when they saw it,” the congressman said. “Hopefully we can get enough energy without situations happening like South Carolina to get it changed.”
Dems called on Republicans to nix the flag without argument.
“I stand here today praying for my Republican colleagues … that they see the light that this is one nation with one flag,” said Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.). “We know that this great nation is better than what we exhibited today.”
“The notion of ‘the South will rise again’ is not something we look forward to. We look forward to this country rising again.”