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Tags: nancy pelosi | house republicans | confederate flag

Confederate Flag Debate Heats Up in House Chamber

By    |   Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:22 PM EDT

The national debate concerning the Confederate flag got testy on Capitol Hill Thursday, with House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle taking sides on the issue.

For one, House Republicans passed on voting for a ban on the flag at the U.S. Capitol, electing to send the measure put forth by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to committee.

With Democrats shouting, "Vote! Vote! Vote!" House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy's (R-Calif.) push to have Pelosi's bill examined in the House Administration Committee passed by a 238-176 vote, reports The Hill.

If Pelosi's proposal had passed, it would have forced the removal of Mississippi's state flag from the U.S. Capitol grounds, since the Confederate flag is depicted on it.

Rep. Curt Clawson of Florida was the sole Republican who voted with Democrats on the issue, with the remainder of GOP congressmen voting to send the bill to committee, according to The Hill.

Pelosi's introduction of the flag-banning bill followed the news out of South Carolina, where state lawmakers voted to remove the Confederate flag from the capitol grounds in Columbia. Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill and said the flag will come down Friday.

There is also an ongoing squabble on Capitol Hill about banning Confederate symbols from federal cemeteries.

House Republicans were forced to withdraw a measure that would have allowed the Confederate flag to be flown in cemeteries managed by the National Park Service after Democrats, particularly those from southern states, cried foul.

"There's not any room on federal property for the display of the Confederate battle flag," said Representative John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat, according to The New York Times.

"It represents the dark past as a symbol of separation, a symbol of division, a symbol of hate."

The Times notes, however, that the measure would have made it legal to display the Confederate flag on federal cemeteries only on Confederate Memorial Day, which 10 states across the south observe — Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

"When you're putting a flag on someone's grave, to me it's a little different from being racist. It's more of a memorial," Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, a Georgia Republican, said in the Times story. "You can't make an excuse for things that happened, but the majority of people that actually died in the Civil War on the Confederate side did not own slaves. These were people that were fighting for their states. I don't think they had even any thoughts about slavery."

House Speaker John Boehner's office told The Hill Pelosi was wrong to capitalize on the Confederate flag discussion by introducing her bill.

"The speaker offered a thoughtful and responsible way to address this issue and Pelosi responded with a cheap political stunt," Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith told The Hill.

Boehner has called for a discussion among lawmakers about how to deal with the Confederate flag issue.

"We all witnessed the people of Charleston and the people of South Carolina come together in a respectful way to deal with, frankly, a very horrific crime and a difficult issue with the Confederate flag," Boehner said, reports the Times. "I actually think it's time for some adults here in the Congress to actually sit down and have a conversation about how to address this issue."

The Confederate flag debate heated up after a white gunman shot and killed nine members of a black church in Charleston, S.C., last month. The alleged shooter was an apparent white supremacist and was seen in photos posted online with a Confederate flag and a weapon. 

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The national debate concerning the Confederate flag got testy on Capitol Hill Thursday, with House lawmakers on both sides of the aisle taking sides on the issue.
nancy pelosi, house republicans, confederate flag
Thursday, 09 July 2015 11:22 PM
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