WASHINGTON -- Republicans on Thursday yanked an Interior Department spending bill off the floor after last-minute Confederate flag amendments threatened to blow it up -- to the outrage of Rep. Betty McCollum, the highest-ranking Democrat on the committee.
McCollum, who represents St. Paul, said that her "no" vote on the Interior spending bill, which she says "panders to polluters", shifted to "hell no" after Republicans late Wednesday offered up amendments to allow the Confederate flag be flown in national parks.
The Obama administration currently prohibits the sale or display of the Confederate flags on National Park properties, except when displayed in a historical context.
"Last night, when Republican leadership put forward a last-minute amendment that would allow for the display and sale of confederate flags in the national parks ... which invokes memories of racism and a painful period in our country's past, I found myself shocked, outraged and disappointed," she said, in a speech on the House floor Thursday. "The people in Minnesota sent me here to strive for what they strive for every day: to build a better, stronger America."
The House fight was in the shadow of remarkable news Thursday that the South Carolina state legislature voted to remove the Confederate flag from statehouse grounds.
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Democrat representing Minneapolis, said in a speech on the floor that the flag was a symbol for racism.
"I urge people to listen not to me but to the secessionist themselves," he said, a large picture of the confederate flag on a poster board beside him.
California Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, who pushed the amendment earlier this week, issued a statement Thursday: "Looking back, I regret not conferring with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially my Ranking member Betty McCollum, prior to offering the leadership's amendment and fully explaining its intent given the strong feelings members of the House feel regarding this important and sensitive issue."