House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s words were taken down, violating the House rules as she said President Trump comments were racist on Tuesday, July 16, when she was challenged by Doug Collins (R-Ga.).
The parliamentarian ruled her speech was “out of order” and her “words should not be used in debate,” breaking the House rules, which forbid personal attacks against the president on the House floor.
This happened as Pelosi condemned President Trump on the House floor, saying that he used racist comments against four freshman congresswomen.
“There’s no excuse for any response to those words but a swift and strong unified condemnation. 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. I urge a unanimous vote, and yield back the balance of my time,” she said.
Collins, the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, immediately stood and made a request for Pelosi to “rephrase that comment.”
“I cleared my remarks with the parliamentarian before I read them,” Pelosi said.
“Can I ask the words be taken down? I make a point of order that the gentlewoman’s words are unparliamentary and be taken down,” Collins said.
Collins used House Rule XVII, Clause 1(B). That rule requires that remarks on the floor “be confined to the question under debate, avoiding personality,” according to Fox News.
Later, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) announced the decision from the parliamentarian against Nancy Pelosi, saying that by calling the remarks by President Trump racist, she had violated the House’s rules.
“The chair is prepared to rule. The words of the gentlewoman from California contain an accusation of racist behavior on the part of the president. As memorialized in Chapter 29, Section 65.6, characterizing an action as racist is not in order,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said.
“The chair relies on the precedent of May 15, 1984, and finds that the words should not be used in debate,” he continued.
This decision technically prevented Nancy Pelosi from speaking for the rest of the day on the House floor, according to Fox News.
But the House then voted the motion to allow Nancy Pelosi to speak, which passed in a 231-190 vote with no vote from Republicans.
Collins later condemned Democrats in a statement for effectively reversing the ruling.
“Democrats admitted her words violated the rules of decorum, the very rules that ensure democracy’s every voice can be heard as we carry out the people’s business,” Collins said. “Still, every Democrat lawmaker voted against striking her words from the record. It bears repeating the House prizes decorum because it is a symptom of and a catalyst for a healthy, confident democracy. I hope we recover move forward with more respect for the American people who sent lawmakers and @POTUS to be their voices in Washington.”
President Trump made a tweet regarding the incident over the House floor, saying “Quite a day.”
“So great to see how unified the Republican Party was on today’s vote concerning statements I made about four Democrat congresswomen. If you really want to see statements, look at the horrible things they said about our Country, Israel, and much more. They are now the top, most 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!” he said.
….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
Collins later said in his tweet:
No lawmaker is above the rules of the House because those rules make sure every person in our democracy has a chance to be heard. I hope we move forward with more respect for the American people who sent lawmakers and @POTUS to be their voices in Washington. pic.twitter.com/PMvS5I0IDQ
— Rep. Doug Collins (@RepDougCollins) July 17, 2019