WASHINGTON -- The House voted to defeat a resolution that would have banned state flags containing the Confederate flag on the House side of the Capitol, a rule that would have removed Mississippi’s flag from the building. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi offered the resolution with little warning through a procedural process.
The mostly symbolic vote was conducted through procedural questions. Republicans successfully made a "motion to refer," which sent the bill to languish in committee. The move effectively defeated the measure without voting on the resolution itself. The final vote was 238 to 178.
The resolution also would have likely only affected the Mississippi flag, which is hung along with flags from the other 49 states in the underground tunnel that connects the Capitol to the House office buildings. And it would not have forced any member of the House to remove the flag from within their own offices.
Pelosi forced the vote after House Republican leadership canceled a vote on the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill that became the battleground for the congressional debate on the display of the flag. Democrats had successfully amended the appropriations bill to ban the display of the flag on federally owned cemeteries.
But on Wednesday night, Republicans offered a new amendment that would have restored the ability for the flag to be flown on cemeteries. That effort only lasted a few hours until Republicans decided that instead of voting on the amendment, they would stop consideration of the entire bill.
Democrats then began using procedural motions to disrupt the House floor. As the minority party, the avenues for forcing votes are limited. South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn, a Democrat, made a motion to adjourn, which failed. Then Pelosi offered her own “privileged resolution,” which allows her to force votes without the blessing of the Republican leadership.
The debate about the Confederate flag has received renewed vigor after the shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine members. The alleged shooter, Dylann Roof, cited racism as a motivation and was seen in pictures on the Internet posing with the Confederate flag. South Carolina’s legislature voted early Thursday morning to remove the flag from the grounds of the state capitol.