House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Thursday forced members of Congress to vote on a resolution that would have removed all state flags featuring the Confederate battle flag from the U.S. Capitol.
Lawmakers ultimately voted along largely party lines to refer Pelosi’s resolution to committee, where no immediate action is expected.
Mississippi’s is the only state flag that still contains elements of the Confederate battle flag. Both of Mississippi’s U.S. senators have called in recent days for the state to adopt a new flag design.
Pelosi introduced the resolution to ban flags containing the Confederate battle flag after House Republicans rallied to defend the flag against Democratic restrictions on displaying it on federal lands. The House GOP’s defense of the Confederate flag produced a huge outcry Thursday that forced House leadership to scrap a planned vote on an Interior spending bill that would have reversed the previously approved, Democratic amendments banning Confederate flags from certain public lands.
Pelosi’s resolution was an updated version of one put forward two weeks ago by Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), which the House similarly voted to postpone. When Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) moved to refer Pelosi’s version to committee Thursday afternoon, Democrats emphatically yelled “No!” and began chanting “Vote! Vote!”
Pelosi’s resolution noted that the Confederate battle flag has “been appropriated by groups as symbols of hate, terror, intolerance, and as supportive of the institution of slavery.” A debate over the flag’s place in the Deep South has raged in the weeks since a white supremacist gunman, who posed with the Confederate flag in several photos, was charged with allegedly massacring nine black churchgoers in Charleston, South Carolina.
Pelosi’s resolution also cited House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) as commending South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s (R) push to remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol of that state. After the vote on the Interior spending bill was scrapped earlier Thursday to avoid debate on the Confederate flag issue, Boehner told reporters that he wanted lawmakers to have more conversation on the issue instead of making it into a “political football.”
Pelosi responded to Boehner’s comments on the Confederate flag amendments in a press conference.
“What is it that you have to study? Do we have to study hatred in its manifestation in the confederate flag?” she said in response to a question from a reporter. “This is simple.”
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.