On Tuesday morning, we wrote that “with the possible exception of Steve King, it’s difficult to imagine there is anybody on Capitol Hill who is excited about the prospect of having their picture superimposed atop the phrase ‘Go back to the crime-infested places from which you came'”.
As it turns out, we may have given Republicans too much credit.
Upon closer inspection, Louisiana Republican Ralph Abraham (whose Twitter banner features a picture of him posing with a grinning Trump) had already said, in a Monday tweet, that he would “pay for their tickets out of this country if they just tell me where they’d rather be”. He was, of course, referring to Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley.
It’s hard to believe an elected official (again, besides Steve King) would go on record with that, but at a time when the GOP has devolved into a religious personality cult that pledges alliance to a race-baiting reality TV show host first, Republican ideals second and the Constitution a distant third, we suppose it isn’t entirely surprising.
Nor should it be particularly surprising that House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy decided to implicitly side with Trump although he was much more diplomatic about it than Abraham.
“I believe this is about ideology; this is about socialism versus freedom”, McCarthy said, as though those two things are somehow mutually exclusive. “This is more from their base, it’s about politics, and it’s unfortunate”, he continued. “We should get back to the business of America”.
That, of course, is the issue here. It’s no longer clear what that “business” is. At this point, it seems like it centers primarily around on-again/off-again trade escalations, ballooning the deficit, closing the country’s doors to immigrants and doing everything we can to exacerbate inequality. (Trump is, for instance, pondering indexing capital gains to inflation, a move that would effectively amount to a $100 billion tax cut for the wealthy on top of that he handed out in 2017.)
In any case, ahead of the vote on a resolution condemning Trump’s tweets (and, by extension, his wild comments delivered during an event convened to boost “buy America” requirements on Monday) Nancy Pelosi finally rallied around AOC, Omar, Tlaib and Pressley, calling them her “sisters”.
“The fact is, as offended as we are — and we are offended by what he said about our sisters — he says that about people every day, and they feel as hurt as we do about somebody in our family having this offense against them”, the speaker said. “This is, I hope, one where we will get Republican support. If they can’t support condemning the words of the president, well, that’s a message in and of itself”.
That latter bit is the key point. The rebuke is purely symbolic. Pelosi is trying to get Republicans on the record tacitly supporting Trump’s remarks.
Ultimately, the vote passed but not without drama.
“These comments from the White House are disgraceful and disgusting and the comments are racist”, Pelosi said while introducing the resolution. “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, 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. I urge a unanimous vote”, she added.
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As you can see, that didn’t sit well with Doug Collins, who asked Pelosi if she’d be interested in “rephrasing her comment”. (In the House, you can’t make disparaging remarks about the president on the floor.)
Pelosi refused. “[I] cleared my remarks with the parliamentarian before I read them”, she snapped.
Collins wasn’t satisfied. “I made a point of order that the gentlewoman’s words are unparliamentary and her words be taken down”, he insisted. The House voted 232-190 against striking her remarks from the record. Justin Amash, who declared his independence on the Fourth of July, joined the Democrats.
In the end, the vote on the resolution, H. Res. 489, was 240-187. The House has condemned the president’s remarks as racist.
At the end of the day, Republicans generally heeded Trump’s implicit warning delivered via Twitter on Tuesday morning not to vote for the resolution. That means that the GOP has now implicitly supported a statement from a sitting president imploring four women of color to resign from Congress and “go back to the crime-infested countries from which they came”. It also means Republicans are tacitly countenancing Trump’s unhinged remarks on Monday, when he said, among other things, that congresswoman Omar “hates Jews and loves al-Qaeda”.
It’s a surreal state of affairs to be sure, until you remember that this is the same party which sat idly by as Trump besmirched the memory of John McCain and “worse”, if you’re a Republican anyway, ballooned the deficit.
If you’re wondering who you can’t blame on the Republican side, the answer is Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who all voted for the measure. Amash backed it too. Six Republicans didn’t vote.