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it's parliamentary my dear
July 16, 2019

The House of Representatives has some absurdly specific rules.

Inside the manual governing the chamber's parliamentary procedures, there's a ban on calling the president "a little bugger," and on saying they "do not care about black people." And there's a broad rule against calling the president or anything they say "racist," which came into question Tuesday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) did just that.

After President Trump on Sunday tweeted racist attacks on four Democratic congressmembers, House Democrats on Tuesday introduced a resolution condemning them. Pelosi called the tweets "racist," and also "disgraceful and disgusting" on the House floor, and before she even finished her speech, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) asked if she'd like to "rephrase" that comment. Pelosi bluntly shut that idea down, and Collins moved to have Pelosi's words struck from the record.

Cue Democrats huddling, the arrival of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and an hourlong delay that got a GOP meeting with Trump canceled. Finally, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), who was chairing the hearing, stepped back up. He then heatedly called the whole ordeal an "excuse to escalate," dropped his gavel, said "I abandon the chair," and walked away.

After several more minutes of nothingness, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) affirmed Pelosi's words were "out of order," as the House parliamentarian had confirmed earlier. That meant Pelosi couldn't speak on the floor for the rest of the day, though the House still voted against striking her words from the record. And all the while, Pelosi stood firm with what she'd said. Kathryn Krawczyk

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