Why did 23 House Republicans vote against anti-discrimination resolution?

Congressman Louie Gohmert of Texas speaking at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland | Gage Skidmore, Flickr

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House overwhelmingly adopted an anti-bigotry resolution this week, with 23 Republicans voting against the measure.

The resolution, whose lead author was U.S. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), condemns anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities.

Ilhan Omar | Wikimedia Commons

House Resolution 183 was approved late Thursday by a vote of 407-23, with only Republicans opposing it.

As the Advance previously reported, all 14 members of Michigan’s delegation — seven Democrats and seven Republicans — voted for the measure.

The Republicans who voted “no” were: U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar of Arizona; Mo Brooks of Alabama; Ken Buck of Colorado; Ted Budd and Mark Walker of North Carolina; Michael Burgess, Mike Conaway, Louie Gohmert and Chip Roy of Texas; Liz Cheney of Wyoming; Chris Collins, Pete King and Lee Zeldin of New York; Rick Crawford of Arkansas; Jeff Duncan of South Carolina; Tom Graves of Georgia; Doug LaMalfa of California; Thomas Massie of Kentucky; Steven Palazzo of Mississippi; Mike Rogers of Alabama; and Greg Steube and Ted Yoho of Florida.

The vote came after freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota ignited a political firestorm with several comments that were perceived as anti-Semitic. The backlash to her remarks sparked infighting among House Democrats, who grappled with the proper response, and with how broad to make the anti-hate resolution that went to the House floor.

Clockwise: Liz Cheney, Louie Gohmert, Paul Gosar and Pete King

The measure ultimately contained language denouncing anti-Semitism, white supremacy, Islamophobia, racism and other forms of bigotry.

“As members of Congress and Americans we have a solemn, urgent responsibility to fight to end the scourge of bigotry, racism and hatred in our country,” U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday on the House floor.

Rashida Tlaib at the Women’s March in Detroit, Jan. 19, 2019 | Ken Coleman

Omar issued a statement Thursday heralding the passage of the resolution that condemns “all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism, and white supremacy.” She also lauded the House for voting for the first time to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry.

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), who, along with Omar, is one of the first two Muslim members of the body, issued a statement on Thursday with with Omar and U.S. Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.):

“Today is historic on many fronts. It’s the first time we have voted on a resolution condemning Anti-Muslim bigotry in our nation’s history. Anti-Muslim crimes have increased 99 percent from 2014-2016 and are still on the rise. We are tremendously proud to be part of a body that has put forth a condemnation of all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism, and white supremacy.”

Republican critics of the resolution, however, said it was overly broad, and should have directly condemned Omar’s comments.

U.S. Capitol | Wikimedia Commons

“I voted NO on the ridiculous resolution that purported to condemn speech that is not at issue,” Gosar wrote on Twitter. “Rep. Omar has made specific multiple anti-Jewish statements. The resolution failed to mention her or her statements. So I will: I condemn anti-Jewish hate speech by Rep. Omar.”

Biggs said he opposed the “watered-down resolution that said virtually nothing,” following “repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric from Rep Omar.”

Buck accused Democrats of producing “a resolution that was so watered-down, it failed to address a very real problem. I voted against the resolution that was nothing more than a political exercise.”

Tree of Life Synagogue memorials after a mass shooting killing 11 people, October 2018 | Wikimedia Commons

Budd wrote on Twitter, “There is absolutely no place in Congress or anywhere for that matter for anti-Semitism. While I’m thankful many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle take her comments for what they are — anti-Semitic in both intention and taste —- we must do better.”

Steube said in a statement that he voted against the resolution “because it failed to specifically condemn the remarks” made by Omar. “Her vile, anti-Semitic remarks should have been specifically condemned in this resolution, but instead, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle decided to look the other way.”

On Friday, U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said many of his party’s members “felt that while we’ve been very clear in rejecting anti-Semitism and anti-racism and any kind of bigotry, that the resolution fell short” of its original mission.

Steve Scalise

U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of Republicans’ criticisms, “Apparently the problem is we also spoke against racism. We also spoke against xenophobia.

“Yes, it spoke directly about anti-Semitism, as it should have,” Hoyer said. “I don’t know why that 23 voted against it, but they did — not on our side of the aisle.”

Robin Bravender
Michigan native Robin Bravender is the DC Bureau Chief for the Newsroom, a consortium of 10 nonprofit news publications, including the Michigan Advance. Previously, Robin was a reporter for Politico, E&E News and Thomson Reuters.

1 COMMENT

  1. To me, Omar said nothing anti-Semitic nor even anti-Israel. She moreso has been anti-Netanyahu (and Likud), which we all should be. Am feeling that she is being treated unfairly in the background info on the various reports that do not state specifically what she said that is supposed to be so horrible. Several peeps, including Claire McKaskill and Chris Cuomo, have compared her to Steve King, which is totally asinine. (Plus, wasn’t Keith Ellison of Islam faith?)

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