Confederate flag ban dropped from spending bill

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A measure to restrict the display of the Confederate battle flag in national cemeteries approved by the House last month has been pulled from the chamber’s final compromise spending bill.

{mosads}The House passed a spending package along party lines early Thursday morning that includes appropriations for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as emergency funding for combating the Zika virus. 

Rep. Jared Huffman’s (D-Calif.) amendment, adopted as part of the House’s version of the 2017 VA spending bill, would have prohibited the large-scale display of the Confederate battle flag in cemeteries run by the VA, such as flying the banner over mass graves. 

It would still have allowed families to still place small flags on individual graves on two days of the year: Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day.

House GOP leaders brought the spending package to the floor in the early hours of Thursday, amid Democrats’ sit-in to call for votes on gun control legislation. Republicans called a vote on the package at approximately 3 a.m. with no preceding debate on the measure.

Huffman blasted the GOP for dropping his Confederate flag amendment during conference negotiations with the Senate at the same time that Lewis was spearheading the House floor sit-in.

“It is shameful that Republicans would once again seek to allow Confederate battle flags, a historic symbol of hate, to be flown over VA cemeteries. Republicans are showing where their allegiance lies — and it is not with the victims of gun violence,” Huffman said in a statement on Thursday.

Huffman’s amendment passed 265-159 last month, with most Republicans voting in opposition. A total of 84 Republicans joined all but one Democrat to support it. 

No one spoke in opposition to Huffman’s amendment when it was offered on the House floor. The vote came nearly a year after the racially motivated shooting at a historic black church in Charleston, S.C., which fueled a nationwide push for restrictions on displaying the Confederate flag.

The package now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Debate over the Confederate flag derailed the House’s consideration of annual spending bills last year, as Democrats pushed for banning the image’s display.

The House adopted a similar amendment from Huffman by voice vote during late-night floor debate. Republicans, primarily from southern states, who learned about the amendment the day after it had already passed threatened to vote against the entire underlying spending bill.

Rather than vote to undo Huffman’s amendment in the days after the Charleston massacre, GOP leaders opted to forgo consideration of the measure. 


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