WASHINGTON — Following a contentious debate, the Democratic-led House approved a resolution Tuesday evening to condemn President Donald Trump for “racist comments” about four congresswomen of color — as Trump lashed out at them again.
The resolution passed 240-187 — with four Republicans joining Democrats. That vote came after Democrats overrode House rules in an unprecedented parliamentary tangle to allow House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to say on the floor “the president’s racist tweets.”
House Democrats proposed the resolution to condemn Trump for widely admonished tweets Sunday saying those four Democrats should “go back” to “the crime-infested places from which they came.” All four are U.S. citizens, and three are American-born.
As the House considered the resolution, Trump doubled down on his attacks on freshmen Democrat Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of the Bronx, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.
“It’s my opinion they hate our country,” Trump said.
Trump’s brief comments followed a string of tweets Tuesday morning in which he both defended himself — “I don’t have a Racist bone in my body!” — and said the House should be rebuking those lawmakers, not him, for what he called their “filthy language.”
He also demanded that House Republicans vote against the resolution and “not show ‘weakness.’ ”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came to Trump’s defense. “The president is not a racist,” McConnell said after being pressed by reporters.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also stepped up for Trump in his weekly news conference, saying he did not think Trump made racist remarks. He said he would not vote for the resolution and urged his caucus to do the same.
“I believe this is about ideology. This is about socialism versus freedom,” said McCarthy, a phrase repeated by other Republicans in the debate.
But Democrats, including one of the four lawmakers targeted by Trump, sought to make it a debate about American values.
“This resolution chooses all of us. It chooses you. It chooses those who are marginalized and more importantly, it chooses the values we must all live up to,” Tlaib said. “We cannot allow anyone, especially the president of the United States, to erode our core American values.”
But it was Pelosi’s remarks that sparked a parliamentary fracas.
“Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets,” Pelosi said. “To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people. I urge a unanimous vote.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) immediately called her out, based on a House rule forbidding members to accuse the president of racist comments.
Pelosi replied, “I have cleared my remarks with the parliamentarian before I read them.”
Collins persisted. “Can I ask her words be taken down? I make a point of order that the gentlewoman’s words are unparliamentary and be taken down.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), serving as chairman of the session, did not rule for nearly two hours and then abruptly complained that all the lawmakers wanted to do “is fight.” He announced he was abandoning the chair and walked away.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) then stepped in as the chair and ruled Pelosi’s comment out of order.
But Democrats overrode the rules. They rejected Collins’ motion to remove Pelosi's words from the official record. And they restored her speaking privileges, which Pelosi had lost by being out of order.
Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.), who recently left the Republican Party, joined the four Republicans — Will Hurd of Texas, Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Susan Brooks of Indiana — who voted for the resolution. The Long Island delegation voted along party lines.
The resolution the House approved said immigrants have made America stronger and anyone who becomes a citizen is as American as multigenerational residents of the United States. It commits keeping America open to refugees of any race, ethnicity, faith or country of origin.
And it “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries.”
It also condemned Trump for “referring to immigrants and asylum-seekers as ‘invaders,’ and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants [or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants] do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”
With Laura Figueroa Hernandez