SC House votes to take Confederate flag down; US House GOP tries to keep it up

On the same night that the South Carolina House voted to remove the Confederate flag from state grounds, sending the bill to Governor Nikki Haley for passage, House Republicans at the federal level moved to keep the flag displayed on federal land.

In an unexpected move Wednesday night, Congressman Ken Calvert (R – CA) introduced an amendment to an environmental appropriations bill that would protect the Confederate flag in two ways. As Roll Call reported last night:

Ken Calvert, via Wikimedia Commons

Rep. Ken Calvert, via Wikimedia Commons

The Republican amendment would effectively undo two of Democratic amendments adopted on the floor Wednesday; no members spoke in opposition at the time. Those amendments would block funding from being used to decorate a grave in a federal cemetery with the flag and bar the National Park Service from using funds to contract with gift shops that sell merchandise with Confederate flag imagery.

Calvert’s announcement of the GOP amendment came after he had spoken on the House floor for nearly half an hour. The chamber had seemingly completed work for the day on the spending bill. He spoke about several other provisions in the underlying bill, moving to “strike the last word” — a procedural move to get more time to continue his speech — until an aide interrupted him with an amendment to offer.

In other words, Calvert, who chairs the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Committee, has taken a cowardly, backhanded stand in favor of using federal funds to display the Confederate flag.

One would think House Republicans would have learned by now that supporting the Confederate flag is a political loser — after all, Republicans in the state that started the Civil War have wised up to the idea — but you’d be wrong. According to Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D – MN), the ranking Democrat on the Interior-Environment Appropriations Committee, the amendment is necessary in exchange for the bill’s passage.

As McCollum said following the amendment’s proposal:

For House Republicans it appears the cost of getting the votes to pass this terrible Interior-Environment Appropriations bill is to literally wrap themselves in this banner of racism. This bill is already a polluter’s dream, now the majority wants to make the bill truly toxic with this amendment.

In other words, House Republicans care more about protecting the Confederate flag than they care about allocating the $30.2 billion set aside for parks, wildlife and environmental protection.

The House will vote on the amendment today, giving House Republicans the opportunity to take a bold stand in favor of federally-funded racism.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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