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Why Some Republicans Voted Against the Antibigotry Resolution

Category: Political News,Politics

WASHINGTON — The House passed a resolution on Thursday that condemned anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry. The resolution, written by House Democrats, began as an implicit response to comments made by Representative Ilhan Omar, Democrat of Minnesota, that were widely deemed anti-Semitic, but when some Democrats objected to singling her out, the resolution was broadened to condemn other forms of hatred.

Earlier this year, House Republicans unanimously endorsed a resolution that condemned white nationalism and white supremacy after Representative Steve King, Republican of Iowa, asked when the term “white supremacy” had become controversial, capping years of bigoted comments that had gone unpunished.

This time, they were not so united, and some Democrats demanded to know why.

Here is their answer:

“The frustration on the Republican side was that they watered down the amendment,” Representative Kevin McCarthy of California, the Republican leader, said at a news conference on Friday. (Mr. McCarthy voted for the resolution; one of his top lieutenants, Representative Liz Cheney, voted against it.)

“We’re here today because a member of this body issued a series of anti-Semitic statements,” Mr. Biggs said in a floor speech on Thursday.

He spoke of the difference between justice and mercy, adding: “We now have a pattern and we begin to wonder how we extend mercy when justice cries out against one who is anti-Semitic. It doesn’t help that Democratic leaders have attempted to rationalize and protect this individual.”

In 2016, Mr. Biggs raised eyebrows when he charged that the Jewish philanthropist George Soros was buying a local election for county attorney.

Mr. Brooks said he voted against the resolution because its “failure to specifically state opposition to discrimination against Caucasian-Americans and Christians, while reflective of Socialist Democrat priorities and values is, by omission, fatal to the bill.”

After Mr. Brooks said in 2016 that Muslims wanted to “kill every gay person in America,” the Alabama chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations demanded an apology.

Mr. Buck, in a statement after the vote, criticized the resolution for failing “to address a problem that needed to be confronted.”

“Anti-Semitism can’t be compared with any other hate speech without marginalizing the history of Jewish oppression,” he said. “I will not vote to overlook the anti-Semitism which has been covered up by the Democratic leadership.”

Mr. Budd, reacting on Twitter, said that he voted against the resolution because it failed to name Ms. Omar or list her comments.

The legislation, Mr. Burgess said in a statement, “does not adequately refute the anti-Semitism that has been displayed in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Perhaps the most striking “no” vote came from Ms. Cheney, the No. 3 Republican, because of her role as chairwoman of the House Republican Conference.

“Today’s resolution vote was a sham put forward by Democrats to avoid condemning one of their own and denouncing vile anti-Semitism,” Ms. Cheney said in a statement after the vote.

The Democrats’ resolution left the party with internal questions about where to draw the line on speech.

Mr. Collins was re-elected in November even after he was indicted on a charge of insider trading. He has kept a low profile, but after his “no” vote, he took to Twitter.

“After reading the final resolution I did not feel it was strong enough in support of Israel, the only true democracy in the Middle East, and that is why I voted no,” Mr. Collins said.

Mr. Conaway said in a statement that House Democrats “must take bigotry of all kinds seriously, not just instances that fit their progressive liberal agenda.”

“If Democrat Leaders wanted to specifically address anti-Semitism and a member of their conference who has repeatedly made anti-Semitic comments,” Mr. Crawford said on Twitter, “this resolution failed in nearly every way possible.”

Mr. Duncan argued that a true condemnation would have made reference to Ms. Omar, and the comments that prompted the resolution.

Mr. Duncan stirred protests in 2017 when he posted on Facebook an image of a white man labeled “Europe” with a noose around his neck watering a small tree labeled “Islam,” with one end of the noose tied around it. “Chew on this picture,” he wrote.

“Jeff I know you’re not racist. Let’s put that to the side,” Bakari Sellers, a former Democratic legislator in South Carolina, tweeted in response. “But this is bigoted, ignorant and embarrassing.”

In a fiery speech on the House floor on Thursday, Mr. Gohmert complained that the resolution was “watered down.”

Mr. Gohmert dealt with his own accusations of anti-Semitism last year after he falsely accused Mr. Soros of collaborating with the Nazis during World War II, a popular myth on the far right. “George Soros is supposed to be Jewish, but you wouldn’t know it from the damage he’s inflicted on Israel, and the fact that he turned on fellow Jews and helped take the property that they owned,” he said on Fox Business Network.

Patrick Gaspard, the president of Mr. Soros’s Open Society Foundations, sent a letter to Mr. Gohmert in December demanding an apology for the “disturbing and false anti-Semitic slur.”

Mr. Soros was a child in Nazi-occupied Hungary.

“Without naming the offender, the chastisement is an empty gesture,” Mr. Gosar said on Twitter. “It’s time for Democrats to take real action against these anti-Jewish remarks.”

Mr. Gosar raised eyebrows after the deadly white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 when he said “an Obama sympathizer” — funded by Mr. Soros — “started the rally,” then repeated the claim that Mr. Soros “turned in his own people to the Nazis.”

Mr. Graves criticized the resolution in a statement as “a sham vote” that failed to directly address Ms. Omar or her remarks.

Mr. King complained on Twitter that the resolution was weakened because of political correctness, and said it was a “sad day for Congress.”

“Victory for hate speech!” he added.

In a statement to The New York Times, Mr. LaMalfa said that the resolution — which he called a “last-minute, politically driven catchall smorgasbord” — was an “abomination to the message that should be sent on the anti-Jewish, anti-Israel rhetoric.”

Mr. Massie joined his colleagues in criticizing the scope of the measure, asking on Twitter, “Now that the resolution protects just about every group on the planet, can we add ‘babies on the day of their birth’ as a protected class?”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Palazzo did not respond to a request for comment.

“House Democrats had the opportunity to make a strong statement against this vile bigotry by condemning hateful statements,” Mr. Rogers in a statement. “Instead, they caved to their radical socialist base and took no meaningful action.”

Mr. Roy described the resolution in a statement as “a sham cover vote designed to avoid dealing with a rogue member.”

In a statement, Mr. Steube said the resolution should have mentioned Ms. Omar by name and the context of her remarks.

In a statement, Mr. Walker said that it was a “spineless resolution” that “provided cover to a politician spreading hatred and anti-Semitism.”

“It was a very shallow vote,” Mr. Yoho said in an interview on Friday. “They did everything they could to not condemn the one that was brought out to. So I think it was just a show vote.”

In a floor speech on Thursday, Mr. Zeldin asked why Ms. Omar was not named in the resolution and noted that she had not apologized for her most recent comments. (She apologized for other remarks seen as anti-Semitic.)

“Why would she be more emboldened to refuse an apology altogether?” he asked in a floor speech. “I don’t believe she is naïve. I believe that she knows exactly what she is doing.”

Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.


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