In breaking news, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi provoked a floor fight and two-hour delay in congressional proceedings yesterday, July 16, 2019, after she crossed the line of proper decorum and called President Donald Trump “racist.”
At issue was a series of three Twitter messages from Trump which he posted around 5:30 am on July 14. In order, the three tweets read:
“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly…”
“…and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how…”
“…it is done. These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough. I’m sure that Nancy Pelosi would be very happy to quickly work out free travel arrangements!”
Although Trump named no one specifically, many observers assumed that the President was referring to the “squad” (as they are called on Capital Hill) of four junior representatives, all women of color who have openly condemned Trump’s calls for border control and decisive action in booting illegal aliens back present in the U.S. back to their home countries: Democrats Ilhan Omar (Minnesota), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York), Rashida Tlaib (Michigan), and Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts).
Last week, the four women condemned conditions at border detention facilities.
For the record, each of Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib, and Pressley were born in the United States while Omar hails from Somalia but came to the U.S. as a child and naturalized as a citizen at age 17 in 2000.
Omar was quick to defend herself in a pair of tweets:
“As Members of Congress, the only country we swear an oath to is the United States…Which is why we are fighting to protect it from the worst, most corrupt and inept president we have ever seen. Omar added that Trump is “stoking white nationalism” because he is “angry that people like us are serving in Congress and fighting against your hate-filled agenda.”
Pelosi also quickly rebuffed the presidential messages and defended her party colleagues with her own tweet:
“When ?@realDonaldTrump tells four American Congresswomen to go back to their countries, he reaffirms his plan to ‘Make America Great Again’ has always been about making America white again. Our diversity is our strength and our unity is our power.”
In a meeting of the House of Representatives on July 16, Pelosi was unable to avoid using improper language when she announced she would formally introduce a motion to reject the comments:
“Every single member of this institution should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets. 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.”
Four Republicans joined angry House Democrats who passed a resolution condemning Trump for telling the unnamed “‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen” to “go back” to their “crime infested” countries.
The remaining Republican reps called for censuring the House Speaker’s remarks that Trump’s tweets were disgraceful and disgusting” and “racist.” These GOP lawmakers called for striking Pelosi’s inflammatory words from the official congressional record. They argued that Pelosi “broke a House parliamentary rule that states lawmakers cannot malign the character of the president.”
Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy appealed on the House floor for civil order as he called for Pelosi’s inappropriate comments to be removed from the record:
“Let us preserve those ideals of order and decency this body was founded on. Madam Speaker, it’s not just our nation that’s watching, but the world is watching. I hope you can rise to this occasion.”
Hours of contention ensued. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, caused a temporary speaking ban on Pelosi for the remainder of the day when he left the podium and his duties presiding over the House floor, lamenting to his colleagues on both sides of the aisle:
“We don’t ever, ever want to pass up, it seems, an opportunity to escalate. I dare anyone to look at any of the footage and see if there was any unfairness. But unfairness is not enough because we just want to fight. I abandon the chair.”
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) then took the chair and ruled that Pelosi’s remarks were out of order. This prompted House members to vote on a motion to strike Pelosi’s comments calling Trump’s tweet’s racist from the official record – which failed 190-232.
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) defended the House Speaker:
“There is a logic for parliamentary rules to prevent us from engaging in ad hominem attacks, where we attack the personality or character of the president. But Speaker Pelosi didn’t do that. She criticized his remarks. And members of the House have to have the right to do that. To criticize policy and remarks of the president. That’s a necessary implication of the separation of powers.”
Public response to Trump’s tweets was predictably polarized. One offended commenter wrote:
“their countries? The USA ‘is’ their country!! This reminds me of, as a child, white kids would call my mother a spic & tell her to go back to Mexico!”
An equally-avid Trump defender spoke to the people who were outraged by Trump’s tweets:
“Your fear is more and more of Americans are having the veil removed from their eyes and can now see the corruption that has been in government! President Trump is revealing it more every day! God bless America!”
Meanwhile, another person tweeted a meme picturing a Native American in tribal dress with a caption: “Dear White People, It takes a lot of white privilege balls to stand on this stolen and occupied continent and complain about immigration.”
When asked directly if his tweets were racist, Trump replied, “Not at all.” He added during an American manufacturing event held on the White House Lawn that Trump can handle harsh criticism:
“It doesn’t concern me because many people agree with me.”