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Alabama delegation reacts to House vote condemning Trump’s tweets

By CAROLINE BECK, Alabama Daily News

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on a resolution Tuesday night to condemn President Donald Trump’s “racist comments” toward four Democrat congresswomen of color.

Two days after Trump tweeted that the four Democratic freshmen should “go back” to their home countries, though all are citizens and three were born in the U.S., the democratic-led House passed the resolution almost along party lines.

Four Republicans voted to condemn Trump’s remarks: moderate Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Fred Upton of Michigan, Will Hurd of Texas and Susan Brooks of Indiana, who is retiring.

Alabama’s six Republican House members voted against the resolution and lone Democrat, Rep. Terri Sewell, voted for condemning the tweets as racist.

“These Congresswomen are U.S. citizens who have sworn an oath to defend the Constitution and improve our nation,” Sewell said in a statement. “Right now, that means they are speaking out against Trump Administration policies that keep innocent children in cages and continue to tear families apart. To suggest their voices do not belong based on the color of their skin is below the dignity of the presidency.”

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Republican leadership stuck with the president amid the growing backlash and tried to redirect the focus away from Trump’s tweets and instead to the four Democrats by accusing them of being socialists, which is a central theme to the GOP’s 2020 presidential and congressional campaigns.

Rep. Bradley Bryne, who is running for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Democrat Doug Jones, continued the accusations of socialism with his statement against the resolution.

“Today’s vote is a transparent and ineffective attempt to distract from the open warfare inside the Democratic Party,” Bryne said in a statement. “The long histories of anti-Semitic and un-American comments from the so called ‘Socialist Squad’ deserve universal condemnation, and Democrats’ overnight transition from a circular firing squad to a circle of support is the height of hypocrisy.”

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Prior to Trump’s weekend tweets, there was infighting among House Democrats.

Rep. Mo Brooks also opposed the resolution saying that it “falsely injects race as a motivation without any supporting proof whatsoever.”

“Just as a person’s skin pigmentation should not be wrongly used as a sword against him, a person’s skin pigmentation should also not be wrongly used as a shield that deflects from proper political discourse,” Brooks said in a statement. “Socialist Democrats are wrong, sinister and insidious to interject race as a motivation for President Trump’s tweets when those very same tweets show on their face a variety of motivations that have nothing to do with race or skin pigmentation.”

Rep. Mike Rogers notes the rift within the Democratic party and says their “ideas are bankrupt” and that the party only relies upon name-calling and identity politics now.

“When Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently questioned the actions of four of her socialist female members, she was accused of singling out women of color in Congress,” Rogers said in a statement. “And now President Trump is being accused of racism because he puts America first and stands up for our country. I am proud to stand with President Trump.”

Rep. Martha Roby said she did not condone the president’s comments and also called an end to “blatant political gamesmanship.”

“As elected officials, we owe it to this country and our political discourse to combat unseemly speech consistently and fairly, but Democratic leadership in the House has demonstrated they are only willing to call out members of the opposing party by name while sparing their own from the finger-pointing,” Roby said in a statement.

Rep. Gary Palmer was more hesitant to fully get behind the president’s tweets and instead said he wished the House floors wasn’t used for “hypocritical, political grandstanding.”

“President Trump’s comments on Twitter were ill-timed and insensitive, but not racist, as the Socialist Democrats have hypocritically claimed,” Palmer said in a statment. “The hypocrisy is glaringly apparent when you consider that Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently tweeted, ‘This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants,’ and that Rep. Ilhan Omar recently tweeted that support for Israel was ‘all about the Benjamins.’”

Rep. Robert Aderholt also opposed the resolution, but had not released a comment as of press time.

The four-page Democratic resolution said the House “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.” It said Trump’s slights “do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.”

All of this comes after years of Democrats bristling over anti-immigrant and racially incendiary comments by Trump. Which include his kicking off his presidential campaign by proclaiming many Mexican migrants to be criminals and asserting there were “fine people” on both sides at a 2017 neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that turned deadly.

Trump’s criticism was aimed at four women who have garnered attention since their arrival to Congress in January for their outspoken liberal views and distaste for Trump: Ocasio-Cortez and Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All were born in the U.S. except for Omar, who came to the U.S. as a child after fleeing Somalia with her family.

The four have waged an increasingly personal clash with Pelosi over how assertively the House should be fighting back against Trump’s policies.

Trump continued to defend his statements Tuesday night tweeting that he doesn’t “have a racist bone” in his body and he applauded the GOP’s unity against the resolution.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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