The floor of the US House of Representatives was as noisy and contentious as the British Parliament on Thursday afternoon, when House Republicans tried to stall a vote on a spending bill that surprisingly included a Republican amendment to keep the Confederate flag on display in federal cemeteries.
Earlier in the week, the House had approved amendments introduced by Rep. Jared Huffman, (D-California) that would block the display of Confederate flags on graves in federal cemeteries and prohibit the use of federal funds to display the flag on federal lands. The amendments passed as part of a Department of Interior spending bill, which was set for a vote on Thursday. But Wednesday night, Rep. Ken Calvert (R-California) inserted an amendment that would make it possible for Confederate flags to stay in use in federal cemeteries. House Democrats immediately objected, and House Republicans—with their leaders apparently nervous about being portrayed as pro-Confederacy—pulled the entire bill from the floor. (Here’s a good breakdown on the sequence of events from The Atlantic).
On Thursday, the same day the state of South Carolina voted to remove the flag from its capitol grounds, as Congress was wrestling with the Interior spending bill and the Confederate flag provisions, House Democrats upped the ante. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi proposed a measure that would remove any flag with Confederate symbols from the US Capitol. House Republicans objected and essentially kicked the resolution off the floor, sending to a committee. Chaos ensued. As the House clerk read the motion to exile the measure to a GOP-controlled committee, Democrats started shouting in protest. When a voice vote was called, Republicans yelled “aye,” while Democrats loudly shouted “no.” Republicans won, and the Democrats responded by yelling, “vote! vote! vote!”—challenging the Rs to vote on the flag-removing measure and not duck the issue.
The video above captures the moment that the GOP ran away from the issue when Democrats tried to remove the Confederate flag from Capitol Hill. (For a more complete video, see here.)