WASHINGTON — The war of words between Donald Trump and four minority women lawmakers escalated Tuesday as the House voted to condemn the president for racist language.
All but four Republicans voted against the resolution, with the majority defending the president and accusing Democrats of using the debate as part of a never-ending battle to impeach him.
Across town at the White House, Trump continued to defend comments he made over the weekend suggesting Democratic Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts go back to “the crime-infested places from which they came.”
All four are U.S. citizens. Three were born in America and one, Omar, was brought to this country as a child from Somalia.
Trump also said the four lawmakers have been “spewing some of the most vile, hateful and disgusting things ever said by a politician.”
In a House floor speech introducing the resolution Tuesday, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said “the comments are racist,” and that “there is no place anywhere for the president’s words.”
House Republicans tried to rebuke Pelosi for violating decorum on the House floor for criticizing Trump, by name, for using racist language, but that effort failed on a party-line vote.
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, raised a point of order after the speech, asking that Pelosi’s comments be stricken from the record because she mentioned the president by name.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. said the president’s tweets “were not racist” and characterized the controversy as “all politics.”
“I believe this is about ideology,” McCarthy said. “I believe this about socialism versus freedom.”
Condemnation for comments
For the most part, the Nevada congressional delegation stayed out of the fray, but backed their respective party leaders in the fight, voting along party lines.
But three members spoke out.
“It’s frightening that we can even imagine having a president who would sink that low – and an entire political party in Washington who continues to enable him,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev.
Rep. Steven Horsford, D-Nev., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, said the “presidency can and should be used to unite people in what it means to be an American — including those Americans who were born outside of the United States.”
“President Trump’s comments are another reminder that he neither believes in nor wants to represent all Americans,” Horsford said.
The lone Republican in the delegation, Rep. Mark Amodei, R-Nev., said, “I have been consistent in my refusal to enter social media battles which are based largely on personalities.”
Amodei said he is focused on health care, immigration, veterans, jobs, the economy, the military, natural resources and infrastructure. “Everyone have a nice day.”
Controversy ‘all politics’
Republicans have sought to characterize House Democrats as radicals with progressive ideas on climate change and the economy that would threaten sustained economic growth over the past decade.
Democrats, however, accused the president of using, racist, bigoted and misogynistic language to divide Americans along racial lines and stir his base of Republican voters in advance of the 2020 presidential election.
Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, who has introduced an impeachment resolution, asked, “What do you do when the leader of the free world is a racist?
“You pass a resolution of disapproval, and you impeach him,” said Green, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. “Both of these things can be done.”
The House ruled that Green’s resolution on impeachment could not be acted upon Tuesday.
In the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has refused to take up bills passed by the Democrat-controlled House and has accused the House Democratic leadership of pushing a socialist agenda.
Democrats, meanwhile, hope to capitalize politically when former special counsel Robert Mueller testifies publicly about his investigation into Russian meddling into the presidential election and Trump’s attempts to thwart that investigation because he thought it would doom his presidency.