The U.S. House of Representatives voted with little opposition on Tuesday evening to pass a measure that would ban displaying Confederate flags at graves in federal cemeteries, reported The Hill. The vote, which came after two minutes of debate, marks the House's first foray into a debate of the flag's standing on federal property.
Previously the flag was allowed to be displayed on the graves of Civil War veterans at national cemeteries that commemorate Confederate Memorial Day. The small flags were allowed to be displayed because of a 2010 directive from National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, which stated the flags were to be removed "as soon as possible," once the holiday was over, according to the Hill. The House voted to pass an amendment from Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) on Tuesday that will end that policy.
"We can honor that history without celebrating the Confederate flag and all of the dreadful things that it symbolizes," Huffman said.
The debate surrounding the Confederate flag has taken on increased scrutiny following the June killing of nine people at the historically black Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, reportedly told authorities the shooting was racially motivated. A website that contained what is purported to be Roof's manifesto, complete with his thoughts on numerous races, also featured photos of Roof posing with Confederate flags.
On Tuesday, the House adopted another amendment, also authored by Huffman, that would prohibit the National Park Service from taking on new contracts to sell items featuring the Confederate flag. It would still allow for the selling of educational items that include images of the flag. The policy was first announced in June not long after the shooting took place.
"With this particular flag, the connotation is that because it represents the Confederacy that fought on the side of secession and slavery, it can be viewed as a racist symbol," said National Park Service spokeswoman Kathy Kupper, according to CNN.
One last amendment, put forth by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-New York) that banned the National Park Service from buying or displaying the flag without historical context passed as well.
The legislation needs approval from the Senate before President Barack Obama could sign it into law. The House votes come amid a time of increased scrutiny concerning the Confederate flag, especially in South Carolina. The South Carolina Senate voted 37-3 Monday to remove the flag from the statehouse grounds, but the measure still awaits approval from the state's House and a signature from the governor. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley has already signaled her support for its removal.