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Rep. Israel: House GOP tries to keep Confederate flag flying

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) at a news conference

Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on March 25, 2015. Credit: AP / Andrew Harnik

House Republicans are trying to ensure that Confederate flags will continue to fly in cemeteries run by the National Park Service, despite three amendments passed to ban the rebel banners, said Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington), a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior Department.

On the Interior appropriations bill being amended and debated, the House approved three amendments banning sale and display of the Confederate flag in national parks and cemeteries administered by the National Park Service, he said.

But Wednesday evening, after 8 p.m. and just before the House recessed, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) submitted an amendment that would essentially allow the display of Confederate flags on grave sites in federal cemeteries in states that set aside a Confederate Memorial Day. The amendment, Israel said, also would allow sales of items with a Confederate flag as a stand-alone feature at national parks -- undoing the earlier accepted amendments.

The measure passed by a voice vote, the House record shows. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) demanded a recorded vote, but that was postponed until Thursday.

"Once again, House Republicans are proving that they are the party that takes every opportunity to undo progress," Israel said.

"As our country struggles, in the wake of tragedy, to rid itself of the painful symbol of hate that the Confederate flag represents, House Republicans are forcing a late-night, backdoor strategy to allow its continued use. House Democrats refuse to allow their despicable actions to go unnoticed."

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