The House Rule That Sent the Chamber Into Chaos on Tuesday

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The House of Representatives voted along party lines on Tuesday to condemn the president’s attack on four congresswoman of color as racist. The nonbinding resolution, which passed 240 to 187, refers to the president’s “go back” tweets and follow-up white-nationalist rhetoric as “racist comments that have legitimized increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”

But before the resolution passed, the House fell into chaos when Republicans objected to Nancy Pelosi’s use of the word “racist” to describe Trump’s racist language. GOP reps cited a 1984 precedent that barred representatives from “engaging in personalities.” As Roll Call explains:

Under Jefferson’s Manual, the text governing procedure of the chamber specifically bars references to racial or other discrimination by the president. Remarks by House members cannot refer to the president as racist or the president “having made a bigoted or racist statement.”

“Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets,” Pelosi said, raising her voice as Republicans stood in protest. Pelosi claimed she had “cleared [her] remarks with the parliamentarian” before speaking, but Georgia Republican Doug Collins made a formal objection and demanded that “her words be taken down.” Pelosi was “no longer permitted to speak on the floor of the House for the rest of the day,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

After an hour’s delay, Emmanuel Cleaver, the Democrat presiding over the House, dropped his gavel and walked off: “We don’t ever, ever want to pass up, it seems, an opportunity to escalate, and that’s what this is. We want to just fight. I abandon the chair.” For the next hour or so, Republicans postured as if the president’s call for Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ayanna Pressley to “go back” to their countries wasn’t racist. “In those tweets, I see nothing that references anybody’s race — not a thing — I don’t see anyone’s name being referenced in the tweets, but the president’s referring to people, congresswomen, who are anti-American,” said Republican Sean P. Duffy. Finally, the resolution passed. Four Republicans and the recently independent Justin Amash joined Democrats in condemning the president. On Twitter, Trump responded:

Conveniently, the tongue is not a bone.

The House Rule That Sent the Chamber Into Chaos on Tuesday