WATCH: Nancy Pelosi condemning remarks by President Trump
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi faced some parliamentary problems in her chamber after she became the first House Speaker to violate the rules of the chamber since 1984.
The violation came amid debate on a resolution condemning President Trump’s tweets. In the debate before the vote, Pelosi specifically called President Trump’s tweets “racist,” a direct violation for any member of Congress to do so.
Pelosi, speaking from the House floor and not her usual speakership post, said: “Every single member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the president’s racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.”
Politico reports the violation did not result in any penalty as Pelosi and her Democratic colleagues used the power of their majority to vote to allow her comments and strike any violation:
House members aren’tallowed to refer to Trump or his tweets as racist when speaking on the floor, even though the resolution they voted on Tuesday said as much. These rules on floor decorum are part of a package the body approved on the first day of current Congress.
That led to a bizarre scene on Tuesday: Only clerks reading the resolution aloud were allowed to say the resolution condemned Trump’s “racist tweets,” demonstrating once again how different lawmaking is from real life.
House Democrats quickly drafted a resolution decrying Trump’s “racist tweets.”
Yet House rules prevent a member from referring to the president or any of his statements as racist on the floor. Democrats warned each other to be careful and follow the rule during a closed-door meeting Tuesday morning.
Pelosi, however, decided to push the limits.
Republican Congressman Doug Collins objected to the comments immediately after Pelosi said them and asked her to “rephrase” them, Politico reports.
Pelosi claimed she ran her comments by the chamber’s parliamentarian, the person responsible for determining if something said or done is in violation of the House rules, and refused to restate them. She then concluded her statement and yielded her time.
Collins sought to have the words removed from the official record, a request that caused some chaos and a 2-hour delay in the chamber. Politico reports:
No speaker has had their words “taken down,” as the process is referred to, in 35 years, and even challenging a speaker’s comments is considered a serious breach of etiquette. Collins’ request led to a nearly two-hour delay in the floor proceedings.
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus who was sitting in the speaker’s chair for the dispute, didn’t want to be part of it when it became clear Pelosi was going to lose via a ruling by the House parliamentarian over whether her comments would be allowed.
While Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) urged Cleaver to ignore the parliamentarian’s ruling — a huge risk for a chamber that religiously follows precedent — the Missouri Democrat decided to “abandon the chair,” a shocking move that left it empty for a moment.
As Cleaver stormed off the floor, several Democratic members could be heard gasping. Others turned to each other with confused looks.
.@SpeakerPelosi: "Every single member of this institution…should join us in condemning the president's racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people." pic.twitter.com/nsskh7TuCS
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 16, 2019
Ultimately, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took up the Speaker’s post to read that Pelosi’s statement was “out of order.” Leadership from both sides of the aisle met with the parliamentarian and then the chamber voted, along party lines, to preserve Pelosi’s comments in the official record.
President Trump criticized Pelosi for the violation, saying in a tweet: “This was the first time since 1984 that the Speaker of the House was ruled Out of Order and broke the Rules of the House. Quite a day!”
….visible members of the House Democrats, who are now wedded to this bitterness and hate. The Republican vote was 187-4. Wow! Also, this was the first time since 1984 that the Speaker of the House was ruled Out of Order and broke the Rules of the House. Quite a day!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2019
Republican Congressman Lance Gooden responded, “Every single member of this institution, especially its Speaker, should recognize the rules of the [email protected] knows better than to make such disparaging remarks about the President on the House floor.”
Every single member of this institution, especially its Speaker, should recognize the rules of the House.@SpeakerPelosi knows better than to make such disparaging remarks about the President on the House floor. https://t.co/awzn3M3kw0
— Lance Gooden (@RepLanceGooden) July 16, 2019