Biggs, Gosar among 23 House Republicans to vote against anti-discrimination resolution

By: - March 8, 2019 11:46 am

Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar. Photos by Gage Skidmore | Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

WASHINGTON — The U.S. House overwhelmingly adopted an anti-bigotry resolution this week, with 23 Republicans voting against the measure, including two members of Arizona’s congressional delegation.

The resolution, whose lead author was Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), condemns anti-Semitism, anti-Muslim discrimination and bigotry against minorities. It was approved late Thursday by a vote of 407-23, with only Republicans opposing it.

Arizona Congressmen Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar were among the small group of Republicans who cast the only votes against the resolution. Also voting no were: Mo Brooks of Alabama; Ken Buck of Colorado; Ted Budd and Mark Walker of North Carolina; Michael Burgess, Mike Conaway, Louie Gohmert and Chip Roy of Texas; Liz Cheney of Wyoming; Chris Collins, Pete King and Lee Zeldin of New York; Rick Crawford of Arkansas; Jeff Duncan of South Carolina; Tom Graves of Georgia; Doug LaMalfa of California; Thomas Massie of Kentucky; Steven Palazzo of Mississippi; Mike Rogers of Alabama; and Greg Steube and Ted Yoho of Florida.

One hundred seventy-three Republicans voted for the measure. Two hundred thirty-four Democrats — the entire caucus, minus one member who didn’t cast a vote — voted for it.

The vote came after freshman Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota ignited a political firestorm with comments critical of Israel that some called anti-Semitic. The backlash to her remarks sparked infighting among House Democrats, who grappled with the proper response, and with how broad to make the anti-hate resolution that went to the House floor.

The measure initially condemned only anti-Semitism and was introduced in response to Omar’s comments, though it didn’t explicitly mention her. But the resolution was later revised to include language denouncing white supremacy, Islamophobia, racism, and other forms of bigotry.

“As Members of Congress and Americans we have a solemn, urgent responsibility to fight to end the scourge of bigotry, racism and hatred in our country,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday on the House floor.

Omar issued a statement Thursday heralding the passage of the resolution that condemns “all forms of bigotry including anti-Semitism, racism, and white supremacy.” She also lauded the House for voting for the first time to condemn anti-Muslim bigotry.

Republican critics of the resolution, however, said it was overly broad, and should have directly condemned Omar’s comments.

“I voted NO on the ridiculous resolution that purported to condemn speech that is not at issue,” Gosar wrote on Twitter. “Rep. Omar has made specific multiple anti-Jewish statements. The resolution failed to mention her or her statements. So I will: I condemn anti-Jewish hate speech by Rep. Omar.”

Biggs said he opposed the “watered-down resolution that said virtually nothing,” following “repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric from Rep Omar.”

Other Republicans who voted against the measure voiced similar sentiments.

Buck accused Democrats of producing “a resolution that was so watered-down, it failed to address a very real problem. I voted against the resolution that was nothing more than a political exercise.” Budd wrote on Twitter, “There is absolutely no place in Congress or anywhere for that matter for anti-Semitism. While I’m thankful many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle take her comments for what they are — anti-Semitic in both intention and taste — we must do better.”

Steube said in a statement that he voted against the resolution “because it failed to specifically condemn the remarks” made by Omar. “Her vile, anti-Semitic remarks should have been specifically condemned in this resolution, but instead, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle decided to look the other way.”

On Friday, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said many of his party’s members “felt that while we’ve been very clear in rejecting anti-Semitism and anti-racism and any kind of bigotry, that the resolution fell short” of its original mission.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said of Republicans’ criticisms, “Apparently the problem is we also spoke against racism. We also spoke against xenophobia.”

“Yes, it spoke directly about anti-Semitism, as it should have,” Hoyer said. “I don’t know why that 23 voted against it, but they did. Not on our side of the aisle.”

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Robin Bravender
Robin Bravender

Robin Bravender was the States Newsroom Washington Bureau Chief from January 2019 until June 2020. She coordinated the network’s national coverage and reported on states’ congressional delegations, federal agencies, the White House and the federal courts. Prior to that, Robin was an editor and reporter at E&E News, a reporter at Politico, and a freelance producer for Reuters TV.