Any regular reader of Splinter will know that we are generally not big fans of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But credit where credit is due: On Tuesday, Pelosi—either inadvertently or purposefully—exposed one of the dumber and more pernicious rules of decorum in the House of Representatives.
Pelosi gave a floor speech about Donald Trump’s infamous, racist comments about freshman Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley, before the House was set to vote on a resolution condemning Trump’s remarks. Towards the end of the speech, Pelosi referred to Trump’s comments as “disgraceful and disgusting,” adding, “and these comments are racist.”
Even before Pelosi finished her speech, GOP Rep. Doug Collins asked Pelosi to “rephrase that comment,” to which Pelosi responded: “I cleared my remarks with the parliamentarian before I read them” and walked away. Collins then asked that Pelosi’s comments be struck from the record.
As mind numbingly stupid as this is, it appears that you cannot call the president a racist on the House floor, even if that president has done something racist.
Following Pelosi’s remarks, she left the House floor. After much commotion Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver—who was presiding over the session—essentially said “fuck it” and left.
If House Democrats want to change this rule—and yes, they absolutely should—they will have to vote on it, according to HuffPost’s Matt Fuller.
I’d go one step further: Welcome to the United States, where it’s somehow considered more taboo to publicly describe a racist as a racist than actually saying something racist.
Update, 5:10 p.m. ET: House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer took the gavel and ruled Pelosi’s words out of order, but Democrats voted down an attempt from Collins to strike Pelosi’s words from the record. According to GOP House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Pelosi has been barred from speaking on the floor for the rest of the day. The House is currently voting on the resolution to condemn Trump’s racist comments.
Update, 6:00 p.m. ET: It appears that Pelosi’s speaking privileges have been restored, and also, that Kevin McCarthy is trying out for the House Drama Club: