Two days after Donald Trump tweeted that four congressmen of color should “go back” to their home countries, the Democratic-led House passed a resolution—240-187—condemning the president for his “racist comments.”
The measure, the first House rebuke of a president in more than 100 years, passed on the night on July 16 nearly along party lines.
Despite a lobbying effort by Trump and party leaders for a unified GOP front, four Republicans voted to condemn his remarks: Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas, and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring. Also backing the measure was Michigan’s independent Rep. Justin Amash, who left the GOP this month after becoming the party’s sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment inquiry.
Trump’s criticism was aimed at four freshman Democrats who have garnered attention since their arrival in January for their outspoken liberal views and thinly veiled distaste for Trump: Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the United States except for Omar, who came as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.
The four-page Democratic resolution said that Trump’s comments “legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It said Trump’s slights “do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”
Marc Short, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, said “I don’t think that the president’s intent in any way is racist,” pointing to Trump’s decision to choose Elaine Chao, who was born outside the country, as his transportation secretary.
Chao is one of the few minorities among the largely white and male aides in high-profile roles in Trump’s administration. She is the wife of Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who declined comment on Trump’s attacks.
Rep. Judy Chu, chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, called Trump’s comments “utterly beneath the office of the president.”
“The fact that he has since doubled down on these comments is appalling and only serves to embolden white supremacists and sow division in our country,” said Chu.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, who co-authored the resolution, said, “Let me remind you that dissent is patriotic and, in fact, a core value to our democracy, enshrined in our Constitution. And yes, I am a proud naturalized citizen born in India, a proud patriot, a proud person who belongs in this country. And it’s not the first time I’ve heard ‘go back to your own country,’ but it is the first time I have heard it coming from the White House.”
Jayapal is among 29 members of the House and Senate born abroad. Sen. Mazie Hirono, a Democrat of Hawaii, was born in Japan.
We applaud the House of Representatives for standing up to Trump, and the four Republicans who refused to toe the line. We invite all Americans to join in, in rejecting Trump’s message of hate and division.