House condemns Trump's tweets as Pelosi decries president's 'racist' attacks
4 Republicans, 1 Independent join every Democrat in vote to rebuke president
The U.S. House of Representatives voted in favour of a resolution on Tuesday condemning U.S. President Donald Trump's racially charged attacks on four Democratic congresswomen.
Four Republicans and one Independent joined every Democrat in voting to rebuke the the president. The measure was adopted by a vote of 240-187.
Trump triggered the controversy during the weekend by tweeting the four should "go back" where they came from.
The measure, which is symbolic and has no force of law, was expected to pass since Democrats have a majority in the House, with any Republican support for the resolution signalling that Trump's attacks had crossed a line.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan have been critical of Trump as well as of the current Democratic leaders of the House, straining party unity in that chamber.
The four are minority women on the Democrats' progressive wing and in their first terms in Congress. All are U.S. citizens, with three born in the United States.
Watch the response from four Democratic congresswomen to Trump:
A Texas Democrat, meanwhile, filed articles of impeachment against Trump after the vote concluded — a move that could force a politically fraught vote by the end of the week.
"Enough is enough," Rep. Al Green said in response to Trump's tweets.
Under House rules, a single member of the House can force an impeachment vote. Green did so twice, unsuccessfully, when Republicans controlled the House.
For now, a majority of House Democrats appear to oppose impeachment. Pelosi has resisted launching official proceedings without broad bipartisan support.
Motion to strike Pelosi's comments fails
The vote was was delayed after an objection by House Republicans to Speaker Nancy Pelosi's remarks criticizing the president's tweets.
During a floor speech, the California Democrat said Trump's tweets were "disgraceful and disgusting and the comments were racist." She said Republicans should join Democrats in condemning "the president's racist tweets" and to not do so would be "a shameful abdication" of lawmakers' oath of office.
Watch Pelosi condemn Trump's recent comments:
Republican Rep. Doug Collins said Pelosi's words should be stricken from the House record, a rare procedural move. But its importance was escalated in a fight that pits Democrats against the president.
The motion to strike Pelosi's comments was later rejected.
In an unusual move, Democratic Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, who was overseeing the debate, stormed away from the presiding officer's chair.
"We don't ever, ever want to pass up, it seems, an opportunity to escalate. And that's what this is," he said just before he stormed off.
"We want to just fight. I abandon the chair."
'What's your ethnicity?'
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, meanwhile, got into a terse exchange with a reporter while attempting to defend Trumps tweets. At the beginning of the exchange, she asked: "What's your ethnicity?"
Watch Conway's exchange with the reporter:
Trump called on fellow Republicans to stick with him, "not show weakness" and oppose the House resolution.
"I will vote against this resolution," House minority leader Kevin McCarthy of California told reporters, calling the measure "all politics."
Watch McCarthy respond when asked if he thought Trump's tweets were racist:
No. 3 House Republican Liz Cheney of Wyoming said the four Democrats "are wrong when they attempt to impose the fraud of socialism on the American people."
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell broke two days of silence about Trump's insults, agreeing that Trump is not a racist but mildly admonishing him as well.
Watch McConnell weigh in on Trump's comments:
The Kentucky Republican said that "from the president to the speaker to the freshman members of the House," leaders should follow the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's dictum of attacking ideas, not the people who espouse them.
"There's been a consensus that political rhetoric has gotten way, way heated across the political spectrum," McConnell told reporters.
The four Republicans who voted to condemn Trump's remarks were: 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 Republican Party this month after becoming the party's sole member of Congress to back a Trump impeachment inquiry.
With files from Reuters