House Vote Condemns Trump Tweets 07/17 06:09
In a remarkable political repudiation, the Democratic-led U.S. House voted
to condemn President Donald Trump's "racist comments" against four
congresswomen of color, despite protestations by Trump's Republican
congressional allies and his own insistence he hasn't "a racist bone in my
WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a remarkable political repudiation, the Democratic-led
U.S. House voted to condemn President Donald Trump's "racist comments" against
four congresswomen of color, despite protestations by Trump's Republican
congressional allies and his own insistence he hasn't "a racist bone in my
Two days after Trump tweeted that four Democratic freshmen should "go back"
to their home countries --- though all are citizens and three were born in the
U.S.A. --- Democrats muscled the resolution through the chamber by 240-187
over near-solid GOP opposition. The rebuke Tuesday night was an embarrassing
one for Trump even though it carries no legal repercussions, but if anything
his latest harangues should help him with his die-hard conservative base.
Despite a lobbying effort by Trump and party leaders for a unified GOP
front, four Republicans voted to condemn his remarks: moderate Reps. Brian
Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and
Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring. Also backing the measure was
Michigan's independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP this month after
becoming the party's sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment
Democrats saved one of the day's most passionate moments until near the end.
"I know racism when I see it," said Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, whose skull
was fractured at the 1965 "Bloody Sunday" civil rights march in Selma, Alabama.
"At the highest level of government, there's no room for racism."
Before the showdown roll call, Trump characteristically plunged forward with
time-tested insults. He accused his four outspoken critics of "spewing some of
the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician" and
added, "If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave !"
--- echoing taunts long unleashed against political dissidents rather than
opposing parties' lawmakers.
The president was joined by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of
California and other top Republicans in trying to redirect the focus from
Trump's original tweets, which for three days have consumed Washington and
drawn widespread condemnation. Instead, they tried playing offense by accusing
the four congresswomen --- among the Democrats' most left-leaning members and
ardent Trump critics --- of socialism, an accusation that's already a central
theme of the GOP's 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns .
Even after two and a half years of Trump's turbulent governing style, the
spectacle of a president futilely laboring to head off a House vote essentially
proclaiming him to be a racist was extraordinary.
Underscoring the stakes, Republicans formally objected after Speaker Nancy
Pelosi of California said during a floor speech that Trump's tweets were
"racist." Led by Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, Republicans moved to have her
words stricken from the record, a rare procedural rebuke.
After a delay exceeding 90 minutes, No. 2 House Democrat Steny Hoyer of
Maryland said Pelosi had indeed violated a House rule against characterizing an
action as racist. Hoyer was presiding after Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri
stormed away from the presiding officer's chair, lamenting, "We want to just
fight," apparently aimed at Republicans. Even so, Democrats flexed their muscle
and the House voted afterward by party line to leave Pelosi's words intact in
In tweets Tuesday night, Trump took a positive view of the vote, saying it
was "so great" that only four Republicans had crossed party lines and noting
the procedural rebuke of Pelosi.
"Quite a day!" he wrote.
Some rank-and-file GOP lawmakers have agreed that Trump's words were racist,
but on Tuesday party leaders insisted they were not and accused Democrats of
using the resulting tumult to score political points. Among the few voices of
restraint, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Trump wasn't racist but
also called on leaders "from the president to the speaker to the freshman
members of the House" to attack ideas, not the people who espouse them.
"There's been a consensus that political rhetoric has gotten way, way heated
across the political spectrum," said the Republican leader from Kentucky,
breaking his own two days of silence on Trump's attacks.
Hours earlier, Trump tweeted, "Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don't have a
Racist bone in my body!" He wrote that House Republicans should "not show
'weakness'" by agreeing to a resolution he labeled "a Democrat con game."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, one of Trump's four targets,
returned his fire.
"You're right, Mr. President - you don't have a racist bone in your body.
You have a racist mind in your head and a racist heart in your chest," she
And one of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, Sen. Kamala
Harris of California, offered an impassioned response to Trump's racist tweets
at a roundtable for women of color in Davenport, Iowa, saying to applause, "And
he needs to go back to where he came from."
The four-page Democratic resolution said the House "strongly condemns
President Donald Trump's racist comments that have legitimized and increased
fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color." It said Trump's slights
"do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America."
All but goading Republicans, the resolution included a full page of remarks
by President Ronald Reagan, who is revered by the GOP. Reagan said in 1989 that
if the U.S. shut its doors to newcomers, "our leadership in the world would
soon be lost."
Tuesday's faceoff came after years of Democrats bristling over
anti-immigrant and racially incendiary pronouncements by Trump. Those include
his kicking off his presidential campaign by proclaiming many Mexican migrants
to be criminals and asserting there were "fine people" on both sides at a 2017
neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly.
And the strong words in Washington come as actions are underway elsewhere:
The administration has begun coast-to-coast raids targeting migrants in the
U.S. illegally and has newly restricted access to the U.S. by asylum seekers.
Trump's criticism was aimed at four freshman Democrats who have garnered
attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and
thinly veiled distaste for Trump: Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar of
Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All
were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after
fleeing Somalia with her family.
The four have waged an increasingly personal clash with Pelosi over how
assertively the House should try restraining Trump's ability to curb
immigration. But, if anything, Trump's tweets may have eased some of that
tension, with Pelosi telling Democrats at a closed-door meeting Tuesday, "We
are offended by what he said about our sisters," according to an aide who
described the private meeting on the condition of anonymity.
That's not to say that all internal Democratic strains are resolved.
The four rebellious freshmen backed Rep. Steven Cohen of Tennessee in
unsuccessfully seeking a House vote on a harsher censure of Trump's tweets. And
Rep. Al Green of Texas was trying to force a House vote soon on whether to
impeach Trump, a move he's tried in the past but lost, earning opposition from
At the Senate Republicans' weekly lunch Tuesday, Trump's tweets came up and
some lawmakers were finding the situation irksome, participants said. Many want
the 2020 campaigns to focus on progressive Democrats' demands for
government-provided health care, abolishing the federal Immigration and Customs
Enforcement agency and other hard-left policies.
"Those ideas give us so much material to work with and it takes away from
our time to talk about it," Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana said of Trump's tweets.