- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 9, 2015

Democrats demanded Thursday that Congress rip down any state flag displayed by the U.S. Capitol that includes the Confederate battle emblem, sparking a bitter battle with Republicans who have been sent reeling by the flag debate.

Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi proposed the change, offering a special resolution directing House Speaker John A. Boehner to prohibit flags except for those in the offices of individual members. Depending on how it is construed, it could affect the flags of a handful of southern states whose current emblems in some way commemorate the battle flag.

Mrs. Pelosi’s resolution called the flag a “symbol of hatred, oppression and insurrection.”

Republicans countered, voting to send the resolution to the committee that handles the Capitol complex.

Earlier in the day Mr. Boehner had said he wanted to have a big discussion about all of the implications of the Confederate flag and its use on federal property.

“I want members on both sides of the aisle to sit down and let’s have a conversation about how to address what, frankly, has become a very thorny issue,” the Ohio Republican said.

Weeks after the horrific shooting in a Charleston, South Carolina, church that claimed the lives of nine black parishioners, and after pictures surfaced of the accused gunman holding the Confederate flag, Democrats continued to press for its removal from public display.

A stream of lawmakers took to the House floor, accusing the GOP of standing in defense of racism and dishonoring the memory of the nine who lost their lives in the church shooting.

The Capitol Hill debate came just hours before South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley was scheduled to sign a bill taking the Confederate flag down from a memorial on the Statehouse grounds there.

Democrats challenged Republicans to follow Ms. Haley’s lead.

Mr. Boehner pleaded for calm, fearing that the flag had become a “political football.”

“I just think that we ought to address this in a fairly broad way, and I’ve got a pretty good idea of the kind of members that ought to be a part of that conversation,” he said.

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