House Democrats unveil resolution to censure Trump over ‘s—hole’ comments
House Democrats on Thursday formally unveiled a resolution to censure President Trump following reports that he disparaged Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations as “shithole countries” compared to places like Norway.
Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), the ranking minority member of the House Judiciary Committee, introduced the measure amid an ongoing, rancorous struggle by members of both parties to find a way to avoid a government shutdown Friday night.
The censure resolution condemns Trump for remarks it states are “hateful, discriminatory and racist, and cannot and should not be the basis of any American policy.”
It further calls on Trump to retract and apologize for the remarks and states that the House has “support and respect for Haiti, El Salvador and African nations.”
Trump, according to media accounts, complained about restoring protected status for immigrants from “shithole countries” like Haiti, El Salvador and some African nations during an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers about a potential immigration deal.
Surrounded by fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus and House Judiciary Committee, Richmond warned they may try to force a floor vote on the censure resolution if GOP leaders don’t bring it up.
“We have asked the Speaker to bring it up. If he doesn’t, then we will look at other ways to force a vote on it,” Richmond told reporters in the Capitol. “The Speaker should bring it up. Because if he doesn’t, then he is enabling and continuing to allow the president to perpetuate this hateful rhetoric.”
House GOP leaders are not expected to allow a vote on the censure resolution, even though many Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing Trump over the profane remarks.
Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), who is of Haitian-American descent, said on CNN’s “State of the Union” over the weekend that Trump’s comments were “indefensible” and racist.
Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), meanwhile, called Trump’s remarks “unhelpful” and “very unfortunate,” pointing to his own family’s Irish heritage. Ryan did not offer a response until nearly 24 hours after The Washington Post first reported on Trump’s remarks.
Richmond dismissed Ryan’s description of Trump’s comments as “unfortunate.”
“No, it’s ‘unfortunate’ when I miss my bus. Or it’s ‘unfortunate’ when the airlines lose my luggage,” Richmond said.
“But when the president of the United States decides to call Africa, Haiti and El Salvador the words he used, that’s not ‘unfortunate.’ That is wrong. That is disgusting. That is hurtful. There are a number of words for it, but ‘unfortunate’ is not one of them,” he added.
Thursday marks the second time in the past year that Democrats have pushed to censure Trump.
Nadler last year introduced a resolution to censure Trump when he appeared to cast equal blame on white supremacists and counterprotesters for violence at a rally in Charlottesville, Va.
As with the “shithole” controversy, Republicans moved to distance themselves from Trump but did not endorse the censure effort over his handling of the Charlottesville violence.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has tried to tamp down a push by some Democrats to impeach Trump, citing the ongoing investigations into whether his campaign coordinated with the Russian government during the presidential campaign.
But Pelosi supports the latest effort to censure Trump, a spokeswoman confirmed. Pelosi also endorsed the push to censure Trump post-Charlottesville.
Even though Democrats have now called twice on Congress to censure Trump, the process has nonetheless rarely been invoked in U.S. history.
The Senate has only censured a president once: Andrew Jackson in 1834 for moving to dismantle the Bank of the United States. But Jackson’s allies revoked the censure once they gained the Senate majority three years later.
The House, meanwhile, has taken steps to censure or rebuke presidents only a handful of times, including former President Tyler in 1842 for abuse of powers and former President Buchanan in 1860 over Navy contracts.
And in 1998, some Democrats fruitlessly suggested censuring former President Clinton over the Monica Lewinsky scandal instead of impeaching him.