Washington, DC – The US House of Representatives voted on Tuesday to condemn President Donald Trump’s racist tweets against four Democratic congresswomen of colour.
Before the vote, Representative John Lewis, a Democrat and civil rights leader who marched with Martin Luther King Jr in the 1960s, called on members of Congress to “do the right thing” and condemn the president’s words.
“The world is watching. They are shocked and dismayed because it seems we have lost our way as a proud and dignified people,” the 79-year-old Lewis said.
“I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it. And it has no place in the highest levels of our government,” Lewis added.
The House resolution passed by a vote of 240-187 with only four Republicans joining all Democrats and one Independent in favour. The text “strongly condemns President Donald Trump’s racist comments that have legitimised and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of colour”.
Trump tweeted on Sunday that four congresswomen of colour who have been critical of his harsh immigration policies should just “go back” to where they came from.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, some of whom he has repeatedly railed against in the past, are US citizens and all except for Omar were born in the United States.
The commentary sparked an immediate backlash in US public debate culminating in Tuesday’s symbolic vote to condemn the president’s words.
“Sadly, this is not first nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president,” Tlaib said on Monday.
Debate over the House resolution was tense and at times chaotic with the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi calling the president’s words “racist” and Republicans using parliamentary tactics to try to strike down her statement.