Amid furious protests from Democrats, Republican leaders scrapped plans for a Thursday afternoon vote in the U.S. House that would have overturned National Park Service limits on the display of the Confederate Flag at certain cemeteries, as the House Speaker urged a full review of the issue away from the floor.
“The Confederate Battle Flag is nothing more than a symbol of racial hatred,” said Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), as he stood next to the banner on the floor of the House.
“This is a new low for this Congress,” said Rep. Janice Hahn (D-CA).
“We ought to remove that flag,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), the number two Democrat in the House.
The GOP plan on the Confederate Flag surfaced on Wednesday night, when Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), suddenly offered an amendment dealing with the issue.
“The amendment offered last night to the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill was brought to me by Leadership at the request of some southern Members of the Republican Caucus,” Calvert said in a statement sent to reporters.
“Looking back, I regret not conferring with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle,” Calvert said.
Asked about the decision to abandon the vote on the Confederate Flag, Speaker John Boehner said it’s time for lawmakers to fully review the place of such symbols from the Civil War.
“I believe it’s time for some members to sit down and have a conversation about how to deal with this issue in a responsible way,” Boehner said.
On Tuesday, the House had approved three different amendments on the budget of the National Park Service dealing with the sale and display of the Confederate Flag – all had been approved by voice vote; all had drawn little debate.
But when Republicans last night set the stage for a vote to un-do the limits on the display of Confederate flags at certain cemeteries, Democrats erupted – and Democratic Party strategists were more than happy to pile on:
Dear house repubs: if you to have to pull an approps bill because of the confederate flag, U ARE DOING IT WRONG XOXO jim
The wrangling in the halls of Congress over the Confederate flag came just hours before Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina was to sign a bill to take that flag down from the grounds of the State House in the Palmetto State.
“It’s past time to take it down,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).