Nancy Pelosi temporarily blocked from speaking during floor fight over Trump tweets

July 17, 2019

House Democrats passed a resolution to condemn President Donald Trump’s now-notorious “go back” tweets Tuesday night, but not before the House floor was thrown into chaos by remarks from Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

In a shocking moment, Pelosi (D-CA) was temporarily banned from speaking after she called president Trump a “racist” — and Democrats rallied to her defense. Pelosi was found to be out of order over the comments, which she made while introducing the resolution. However, Democrats subsequently voted to keep her words in the record and restore her speaking privileges.

Pelosi breaks House rules, Dems defend her

The House was primed for a dramatic showdown Tuesday as the feud between President Trump and the so-called “squad” of progressive Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), consumed Washington. Democrats accused Trump of staging a racist attack by telling the lawmakers to “go back” to their “corrupt” and “crime infested places” from which they came and then “come back and show us how it’s done.”

President Trump, firing back, has accused the four lawmakers of hating America. This charged atmosphere poured over into the House Tuesday when Pelosi used the term “racist” to describe Trump’s tweets while introducing the resolution.

“There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong unified condemnation. 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, and yield back the balance of my time.”

Republican Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA) promptly stood up and demanded that Pelosi’s comments be “taken down” for breaking decorum, citing a House rule against making attacks of a personal nature, such as direct accusations of racism, on the floor. Collins’ challenge threw deliberations into disarray for almost two hours, and in a moment said to be unprecedented, the chairman at the time, Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO), dropped the gavel and stormed off in frustration, declaring, “I abandon the chair.”

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) eventually took over and voted to uphold the House parliamentarian’s ruling to remove Pelosi’s speaking privileges for the day. “The words used by the gentlewoman from California contained an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the President,” Hoyer said. “The words should not be used in debate.”

But Democrats shortly voted along party lines to keep Pelosi’s words on the record and restore her speaking privileges, overruling the parliamentarian. Republicans criticized Democrats for basically agreeing that Pelosi was indecorous — only to reverse their decision.

Resolution to condemn

The House then proceeded to pass a resolution declaring that Trump’s “racist comments have legitimized fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It passed 240-187, with all Democrats voting in favor and four Republicans, as well as Rep. Justin Amash (MI), who recently left the Republican party to become an Independent. Amash provoked the ire of many conservatives when he became the first Republican to support impeaching Trump.

Pelosi touted the “gentle” resolution at a press conference Wednesday, and asserted that the text, which quoted American giants like Benjamin Franklin and Ronald Reagan, was calling Trump’s words — not Trump himself — racist.

“You have no idea the provisions that some people wanted to have in that resolution,” Pelosi said at a press conference in the Capitol. “It condemned the words of the president. Not the president, but the words of the president. And in doing so, it anchored itself in the words of Ronald Reagan.”

Speaking of “gentle,” conservatives criticized the resolution against Trump by noting that Pelosi failed to rebuke Omar earlier this year for anti-Semitic comments. In an early sign of the chaos to come over the “squad,” Omar caused a firestorm when she claimed that American politicians loyal to Israel were bought off, in rhetoric that many said invoked anti-Semitic stereotypes. Pelosi initially planned to censure Omar, then backtracked with a generic resolution condeming all forms of hate.

Republicans have responded to the Democrat furor by arguing that members of the “squad” have shown hatred toward the United States in their rhetoric and actions. Omar, for example, rattled many Americans when she called 9/11 the day that “some people did something” — words that never came with a rebuke from Democrats, or anything close to the furor now brewing on the left over Trump’s statements.

Meanwhile, impeachment supporter Al Green (D-TX) seized on the momentum against Trump to push an impeachment resolution, but Democrats shot it down Wednesday. At a rally in North Carolina on Wednesday night, Trump blasted the “squad” members one at a time — prompting chants of “send her back,” when he turned his attention to Omar — and mocked Green’s failed impeachment effort.

“I just heard that the United States House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted to kill the most ridiculous project I ever worked on,” he said. “The resolution — how stupid is that — on impeachment.

“And they want to try and impeach,” Trump continued, “It’s a disgrace.”

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Matthew Boose

Matthew Boose is a staff writer for Conservative Institute. He has a Bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University and has contributed to The Daily Caller and The Stony Brook Press.