WASHINGTON — Nebraska’s all-GOP House delegation voted against this week’s resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s use of a common racist trope.
The resolution passed Tuesday evening by a 240-187 vote that fell almost entirely along party lines. Only four Republicans and one independent supported the resolution.
Rep. Don Bacon, R-Neb., voted against it despite having previously described the president’s words as “unacceptable.”
The Omaha congressman told The World-Herald after the vote that he felt the language of the resolution was too partisan and aggressive.
He also noted that the House Parliamentarian weighed in to rule that the kind of language contained in the resolution violates prohibitions on members personally attacking the president.
The president sparked the controversy when he said some of the Democratic women in the House should go back to the countries they come from. It seemed clear he was referring to four members of color — who are all U.S. citizens.
That go-back-to-your-own-country talk is the kind of language minorities in America have heard leveled at them for their skin color.
Nebraska Democrats said members voting against the resolution showed a lack of consideration for minority communities.
“To not stand up against the president's racist tweets shows us what cowards they are, and why we must elect Democrats to represent all of our communities' values,” said Precious McKesson, Black Caucus Chair of the Nebraska Democratic Party.
Dulce Sherman, NDP LatinX Caucus Chair, said, "It is not all about politics. It is about standing up and doing the right thing. Racism, lack of inclusion, lack of cultural identity, has no room in our state. This is not the message we want our future leaders to hear. All should be welcomed here."
Bacon said he understands that some people sincerely perceive the president’s words as racist and that he respects their perspective, but he wasn’t prepared to use the word himself.
“I don’t want to judge his heart,” Bacon said. “I don’t know, I don’t think he intended it that way. I think he meant it more in a policy way.”
Instead of using the “r” word, Bacon described Trump’s statements as “insulting” and “degrading” and said the president should do better to elevate the national dialogue.
Bacon said he has communicated that message to the White House.
But Bacon also stuck by his endorsement of the president’s re-election campaign, saying that he’s much more aligned with Trump on policies than with the Democrats running for president.
Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, also opposed the resolution. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, supported it.
Rep. Adrian Smith voted against the resolution despite having said that he disagreed with the president.
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry has avoided specifically addressing the president’s comments and instead voiced concern about people calling Trump — or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for that matter — a racist.
“None of this is leading anywhere except to more division,” Fortenberry said. “Politicians must elevate what is good, promote the principles of justice, fight for what we believe in, and invite all to this proposition with care and respect."
The resolution declares that immigrants and their descendants have made America stronger and that the House is committed to keeping America open to those lawfully seeking the American dream.
It condemns Trump’s “racist comments that have legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color by saying that our fellow Americans who are immigrants, and those who may look to the President like immigrants, should ‘go back’ to other countries, by referring to immigrants and asylum seekers as ‘invaders,’ and by saying that Members of Congress who are immigrants (or those of our colleagues who are wrongly assumed to be immigrants) do not belong in Congress or in the United States of America.
After the House vote, Trump again took to Twitter to commend House Republicans for backing him up.
“So great to see how unified the Republican Party was on today’s vote concerning statements I made about four Democrat Congresswomen,” Trump tweeted.