The House of Representatives on Tuesday passed a resolution condemning Donald Trump’s incendiary remarks telling four congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they “came from” as racist.
The measure, which formally rebuked the president’s comments, was approved on a mostly partisan-line vote of 240 to 187.
Just four Republicans – representatives Will Hurd of Texas, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, and Susan Brooks of Indiana, joined Democrats in approving the resolution. The Michigan representative Justin Amash, who recently left the Republican party and registered as an independent after calling for Trump’s impeachment, also voted for the measure.
The vote came days after Trump’s tweets about four newly elected Democratic lawmakers – representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan – sparked a widespread uproar. Ocasio-Cortez, Pressley and Tlaib were all born in the US, while Omar is a naturalized American citizen who arrived in the country at a young age as a Somali refugee.
“Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets,” the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, said on the House floor.
“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.”
Pelosi’s sharp words prompted a challenge of their own from Republicans, who accused the Democratic leader of violating rules that prohibit describing the president as “having made a bigoted or racist statement” on the House floor. In a separate vote, the Democratic-controlled House voted against striking Pelosi’s comments from the official record.
The drama on Capitol Hill unfolded as Trump renewed his attacks against the minority lawmakers and pressured Republicans to hold the line.
“The Democrat Congresswomen have been spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things ever said by a politician in the House or Senate, & yet they get a pass and a big embrace from the Democrat Party,”
“Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said? Because they are the Radical Left, and the Democrats are afraid to take them on. Sad!”
Heeding the president’s words, Republicans largely echoed his argument that the issue was not one of race but of ideology. Faced with a choice to confront Trump, much of the president’s party instead decried the Democratic congresswomen as “socialists” and branded them as “anti-American”.
“The president is not a racist,” Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell told reporters Tuesday on Capitol Hill. “Everyone ought to tone down their rhetoric, and we ought to move back to talking about the issues.”
The controversy marked another bitter debate in Trump’s America over identity politics, as the president once again showed a willingness to weaponize race in a bid to appeal to the grievances of his supporters.
Trump originally tweeted on Sunday that Omar, Tlaib, Ocasio-Cortez, and Pressley should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came”.
The quartet of progressive Democrats, who refer to themselves as “The Squad”, have been vocal critics of the Trump administration and called for the president’s impeachment. The group responded to Trump’s attacks in a press conference Monday, where they stated that the US “belongs to everyone”.
As Trump insisted on Tuesday that he didn’t “have a racist bone” in his body, Ocasio-Cortez hit back at the president once again.
“You’re right, Mr. President — you don’t have a racist bone in your body,” she tweeted. “You have a racist mind in your head, and a racist heart in your chest.”