WASHINGTON — The U.S. House on Tuesday night voted largely along partisan lines to approve a resolution that condemns President Trump’s “racist comments directed at Members of Congress.”
Trump’s remarks — which targeted U.S. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) — have dominated the political discourse on Capitol Hill this week. Democrats have overwhelmingly excoriated the president, while many Republicans have defended him or sought to avoid the issue.
The resolution passed the chamber by a vote of 240-187, with the Michigan delegation split 9-5. Four Republicans and one independent joining their Democratic colleagues in publicly condemning Trump after he suggested that four Democratic congresswomen “go back” to the “places from which they came.”
That included two members from Michigan — U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) and U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.), who recently left the GOP.
“Today’s resolution was targeted at the specific words that frankly are not acceptable from a leader in any workplace, large or small,” Upton said in a statement. “If we’re going to bring civility back to the center of our politics, we must speak out against inflammatory rhetoric from anyone in any party anytime it happens. America embraces diversity, and that must continue.
Upton ended by quoting former President Ronald Reagan: “Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we’re a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. … If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”
In a weekend tweetstorm Trump wrote, “Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came,” he added. “… These places need your help badly, you can’t leave fast enough.”
Tlaib was born in Detroit, Pressley was born in Cincinnati, Ocasio-Cortez was born in New York City and Omar was born in Somalia.
When asked by reporters about his comments on Monday, Trump doubled down.
“If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,” Trump said. “As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave.”
The resolution, a stinging rebuke against the president, states that the House “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.”
The three other U.S. House Republicans who broke ranks with their party to support the resolution were U.S. Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Will Hurd of Texas.
On Monday, Upton, U.S. Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) and U.S. Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) expressed disappointment for Trump’s remarks. However, both Huizenga and Mitchell voted against Tuesday’s resolution.
“America needs less politics and more solutions. In my view, the past six months in the House have been more about scoring political points and performing political theatre than solving problems. I view this resolution as a continuation of that flawed behavior which is why I voted against it. Everyone needs to come to the table and get to work on the issues West Michigan and the nation expect Congress to address.”
U.S. Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) said that U.S. House Democratic leadership chose “to push meaningless resolutions to score cheap political points, further dividing our nation.
“To be clear, my opposition to this resolution has nothing to do with my colleagues’ gender, religion, or race, nor does it have anything to do with President Trump’s tweets,” he said in a statement. “I just flat out don’t agree with the content of my liberal colleagues’ policies. … Opposition to their beliefs does not equal racism.”
But U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) said she was “absolutely appalled at the behavior of the person who currently occupies the Oval Office. His condescending, racist, and xenophobic comments have no place in a civilized society.”
Lawrence said Trump’s remarks were “particularly hurtful” to her as an African-American woman who has “been told to ‘go home,’ though I was born in Detroit and I am a fifth-generation American.”
She added that it follows a pattern from Trump, who spread birther conspiracy theories about former President Barack Obama and called U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) “low IQ.”