Only a handful of House Republicans commented on President Trump’s recent racist attacks against a group of congresswomen of color. On Tuesday, all 197 of them are going to have to weigh in.
Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-NJ) has introduced a resolution to condemn Trump’s “racist comments toward Members of Congress,” presumably Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA). It is scheduled for a vote Tuesday.
The resolution’s preamble traces U.S. history from the drafting of the Declaration of Independence to the Reagan administration in describing America’s “commitment to immigration.” The resolution itself lays out that the House:
1. “believes that immigrants and descendants have made America stronger, and that those who take the oath of citizenship are every bit as American as those whose families have lived in America for many generations”
2. “is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking refuge and asylum from violence and oppression, and those who are willing to work hard to live the American Dream, no matter their race, ethnicity, faith, or country of origin”
3. “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should “go back” to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as “invaders,” and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”
Though Republicans will likely come up with excuses for voting against the resolution, no rhetorical dodge can shield those who oppose the resolution from having gone on the record as tacitly endorsing the president’s racism. The heart of the matter is clear: Representatives can either vote for an inclusive America where citizenship is defined by laws, or they can vote for Trump’s ethno-nationalist perversion of that ideal.
The president responded to the news of the vote by levying even more attacks on the congresswomen, accusing them on Tuesday of “spewing some of the most vile, hateful, and disgusting things every said by a politician in the House or Senate.”
“Why isn’t the House voting to rebuke the filthy and hate laced things they have said?” he added.
…..shouting of the F…word, among many other terrible things, and the petrified Dems run for the hills. 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
“Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful,” he added a few minutes later. “If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!” (Trump, of course, repeatedly criticized U.S. policy under the Obama administration.)
Trump continued to attack the congresswomen and object to the vote throughout Tuesday morning, tweeting that the attacks “were NOT Racist” and that he doesn’t “have a Racist bone” in his body, a claim he has delivered before and which is common among those attempting to defend heinously racist actions. “The so-called vote to be taken is a Democrat con game,” he wrote. “Republicans should not show ‘weakness’ and fall into their trap.”
…..Congresswomen, who I truly believe, based on their actions, hate our Country. Get a list of the HORRIBLE things they have said. Omar is polling at 8%, Cortez at 21%. Nancy Pelosi tried to push them away, but now they are forever wedded to the Democrat Party. See you in 2020!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
Trump’s recent ire toward the congresswomen is a result of their criticisms of the squalid conditions in facilities holding migrants the border. On Sunday morning, he tweeted that they should “go back” to the “totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” His attacks continued that night and into Monday morning. During a press conference that afternoon, he again railed against the congresswomen, inviting them to leave the country if they don’t like it while accusing them of hating America “with a passion.” Trump has repeatedly cited their language, likely a reference to Tlaib calling for Congress to impeach the “motherfucker” the night she was sworn into Congress. He has also falsely, absurdly claimed that Omar supports Al-Qaeda over the United States.
The four congresswomen responded with a press conference of their own Monday night. “We don’t leave the things that we love and when we love this country,” said Ocasio-Cortez, “what that means is that we propose the solutions to fix it.”
The vote on Tuesday will be the second time this year House Democrats have forced Republicans to take a side on the racism of one of their own.
In January, after Rep. Steve King (R-IA) wondered why everyone makes such about big deal about valuing one race above others in an interview with the New York Times, House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) introduced a resolution to condemn white nationalism, mentioning King’s comments in resolution’s preamble. It passed 421-1, with the one dissenting vote coming from Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL), who felt the resolution should have been stronger.
In March, the House introduced a broad bill to condemn all forms of hatred and bigotry, the result of a prolonged controversy over comments made by Omar that some perceived to be anti-Semitic. All 234 Democrats, including Omar, voted to support the resolution. Nearly two dozen Republicans voted against it, with King abstaining from taking a side.
Those resolutions were rebukes of white nationalism and bigotry, not specific individuals. Though Malinowski’s resolution calls for the condemnation of the comments made by “President Donald Trump,” technically it is not a direct rebuke of the president, either.
A more substantive “resolution of censure,” however, which marks a formal, codified rebuke of an individual, was introduced on Monday by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). Ocasio-Cortez, Omar, Tlaib, and Pressley all signed on as co-sponsors.
I’m pleased #TheSquad (@RepAOC, @RepRashida, @RepPressley & Rep. @Ilhan) joined me in introducing a resolution to censure Trump for his racist remarks (#HR490). These comments are completely unacceptable and deserve to be censured. #RacistPresidenthttps://t.co/S72Hu1bMjh
— Steve Cohen (@RepCohen) July 16, 2019
It’s unclear whether Cohen’s resolution of censure will be taken up for a vote.
The vote on Malinowski’s resolution to condemn Trump’s comments, however, will be telling. Given that it specifically refers to the president’s comments as “racist,” a vote of support would be tantamount to acknowledging Trump’s racism. Only two Republican representatives, Will Hurd of Texas and Mike Turner of Ohio, have so far described Trump’s attacks against the congresswomen in such terms. Will they, or any of their colleagues, have the fortitude do so with vote on the House floor?
This post has been updated.