Republicans have been absolutely gleeful this week. The House Democratic caucus has tied itself in knots over how to address the issue of anti-Semitism after comments by Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MI) that some took as offensive. The GOP piled on, which did nothing to turn down the temperature. Suddenly a week that was supposed to be dedicated to passing a massive anti-corruption bill was getting swamped by the media re-upping the “Democrats in disarray” narrative it reaches for at the first hint of trouble on the left.
In an effort to put the whole issue to rest for the moment, House Democratic leaders decided to bring a resolution condemning racism and anti-Semitism to the floor. Just before the vote, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the House Minority Leader, stepped to the microphone to brag a little, telling his Democratic colleagues, “I will pledge to you this, from this side of the aisle, and I hope you understand this clearly: any hatred, we take action. I hope you’ve seen from action on this side of the aisle of where we stand. We didn’t have to have a resolution, but when it came to the floor, we voted for it. We took action before it came to the floor.”
McCarthy seems to have been referring to Rep. Steve King, who was stripped of his committee assignments after saying in an interview with The New York Times that he didn’t see what was so offensive about the terms white nationalism and white supremacy.
McCarthy went on, “It wasn’t simply, ‘please apologize’…Please do not make history write about our time with these two years is that the most we’ve ever done is to bring resolutions to the floor to tell people that anti-Semitism is wrong. If that’s the only action we’re going to take, I know we’re better than this.”
This was a subtle dig at Democrats for refusing to strip Omar of her committee assignments, particularly her seat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The GOP, including President Trump, has been advocating for that move all week.
Still, it had to feel good for McCarthy. Usually Republicans are the ones defending themselves against charges of bigotry. How nice for him to have the other party twisting in the wind for once.
Then the voting started, and 23 Republicans voted against the anti-bigotry resolution. The entire Democratic caucus voted in favor.
Whoops. So much for taking a stand against bigotry.
It is a little unclear at the moment why almost two dozen Republicans voted against a measure with the simple message of “don’t hate.” Perhaps a clue can be found in the speech of Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA). Collins railed against the resolution for not condemning threats and hate speech against other groups, including Mormons and Wiccans. So perhaps the GOP voted against the measure for that reason.
Collins seemed most offended that Congress even needed to take the time pass a resolution telling people “not to hate.” Apparently, though, it did need such a resolution.
Watch the speeches of both Collins and McCarthy in the video up top, via C-SPAN.