First term Rep. Eli Crane (R-AZ) referred to Black people as “colored people” Thursday night during a floor debate over an amendment he proposed for the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act, the legislation that authorizes the annual budget for the U.S. military.
“My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve,” said Crane. “It has nothing to do with any of that stuff.”
“The military was never intended to be, you know, inclusive. Its strength is not its diversity. Its strength is its standards,” the Arizona Republican added.
Crane’s proposed amendment — which was adopted in a 214-210 vote — aims to prohibit the Defense of Department from considering race, gender, religion, political affiliations or “any other ideological concepts” as a basis for recruitment training, education, promotion or retention decisions. It was one of many amendments that far-right Republicans forced votes on Thursday night after the House speaker allowed them to use the defense bill as a vehicle to elevate various right-wing grievances and jam up the government funding process. Crane’s amendment is part of Republicans’ broader attacks on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion initiatives.
The bill passed the House by a 219-210 vote Friday morning, but, with all the amendments, it is dead on arrival in a Democrat-majority Senate.
“I’m going to tell you guys this right now you can: You can keep playing around these games with diversity, equity and inclusion. But there are some real threats out there. And if we keep messing around and we keep lowering our standards, it’s not going to be good,” Crane added.
Crane’s remarks prompted immediate and stern pushback from Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-OH).
“I find it offensive and very inappropriate,” said Beatty, who is a former chair for the Congressional Black Caucus. “I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words of referring to me or any of my colleagues as colored people.”
Crane then interjected, requesting to amend his comments to “people of color.”
But despite Crane’s request, Beatty insisted that his words be stricken from the record. They were removed by unanimous consent.
Later, when asked about his remarks, Crane said he “misspoke.”
“In a heated floor debate on my amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the color of one’s skin in the Armed Forces, I misspoke,” Crane said in a statement, according to NBC News. “Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal.”