Dem Rep: Confederate Flag Move Was To Appease Hard Right On EPA Funding

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), who introduced one of the original amendments to remove the Confederate flag from national parks, suggested Thursday that Republicans’ late-night move Wednesday to reverse the effort was a last ditch attempt to save the larger Interior appropriations bill.

Republican leadership was struggling to gain support for the Interior bill among the most conservative members of the GOP conference right, McCollum said.

McCollum told reporters on the Hill that she heard “this bill was in trouble because it didn’t go far enough in repealing the Endangered Species Act. It did not go [far] enough in eliminating the EPA totally, which many of their members, you can tell by the amendments that they offered, wanted.”

“So when the Parks Service prohibition of Confederate flags was added to the bill, then our understanding was that they heard from some of their extreme members within their caucus that they weren’t gong to help pass the bill unless they can have something out of it,” McCollum said. “Our understanding is that is why this amendment was offered.”

Not long after McCollum spoke TPM, House leadership canceled Thursday’s vote on the entire bill, citing the debate over the Confederate flag language.

“That bill is gonna sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution on this,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said of the Confederate flag amendments.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), who introduced the language that would have stripped the previous Confederate flag prohibition amendments, said in a statement Thursday that GOP leadership had asked him to bring the amendment on the request of some Southern Republican members.

“Looking back, I regret not conferring with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially my Ranking Member Betty McCollum, prior to offering the Leadership’s amendment and fully explaining its intent given the strong feelings Members of the House feel regarding this important and sensitive issue,” Calvert said.

This story has been updated to include a statement from Rep. Ken Calvert.

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