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House Pulls Spending Bill Amid Confederate Flag Debate (Video)

A Confederate flag is held by an attendee of the 63rd Annual Shad Planking political rally in Wakefield, Va., in 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
A Confederate flag is held by an attendee of the 63rd Annual Shad Planking political rally in Wakefield, Va., in 2011. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republicans are pulling the Interior-Environment appropriations bill amid a growing public relations storm over votes on the Confederate battle flag and concerns the bill won’t pass.  

Speaker John A. Boehner confirmed to reporters Thursday during his weekly on-camera news conference the appropriations bill was being pulled so that the “adult” members of Congress could sit down and have a conversation about how to deal with the Confederate flag. “That bill is going to sit in abeyance until we come to some resolution,” Boehner said.

House Pulls Spending Bill Amid Confederate Flag Debate

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“A number” of Southern Republicans, according to Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, pressured GOP leadership into giving them a vote on an amendment after Democrats successfully had amendments adopted Tuesday that would ban the use of federal funds for displaying the Confederate flag on federal lands.  

“This was an attempt to try to find a middle ground, a way for those members to be able to register their opinions about this issue,” Rogers said, with the Kentucky Republican adding that, without the support of those Republicans, there would not be 218 votes to pass the underlying bill.  

Despite Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert of California moving to get a vote on the Confederate flag amendment late Wednesday night, the controversy over the amendment was already gaining steam by Thursday morning. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi began her Thursday news conference by slamming Republicans for seeming to support the flag.  

“After Charleston, after so many decades of this flag serving as a banner of oppression, hate and segregation,” Pelosi said, now was the time to “put away” the Confederate flag.  

Clyburn Slams Confederate Flag Amendment

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Pelosi juxtaposed the South Carolina Legislature voting to remove the Confederate battle flag from its statehouse on Wednesday with the House putting an amendment up for a vote that would essentially undo Democratic amendments that were adopted by voice vote to the Interior spending bill.  

Now, with leaders pulling the bill, there’s an opportunity to try to work out the Confederate flag issue in a less public venue than the House floor.  

“I do not want this to become some political football,” Boehner said. “It should not.”  

The Ohio Republican noted that everyone had seen how the people of Charleston had responded to the church shooting in their community, and he wanted members to sit down and discuss how to handle the flag issue.  

Boehner noted that he, personally, did not think the flag should be displayed on federal lands.  

Samar Khurshid, Tamar Hallerman and Lauren Gardner contributed to this report.

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