- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver said Wednesday his stunning moment of abandoning the House chair was due to embarrassment for his fellow lawmakers continually trying to escalate the situation.

The Missouri Democrat abandoned the chair Tuesday during a fierce debate between Democrats and Republicans after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi described tweets by President Trump as “racist.”

Republican Rep. Doug Collins moved to strike Mrs. Pelosi’s words based on House decorum rules, which was the last straw for Mr. Cleaver.

“We don’t ever, ever want to pass up, it seems, an opportunity to escalate, and that’s what this is … we want to just fight,” Mr. Cleaver said, dropping his gavel. “I abandon the chair.”

In an interview with CNN’s “New Day,” Mr. Cleaver said everyone, Democrats, Republicans and even the legislation itself had broken House decorum rules and the entire hearing became something he “didn’t want to be a part of.” 

“Unfortunately, it was an opportunity for people to make things worse. To make things messier,” he said. “I was embarrassed to remain as the chair presiding over what should have been a very shameful moment for all of us and that is where we were in the House of Representatives and every person who spoke violated the House rules.”

“I was asked to preside to make sure it was a very fair thing and that’s what I did, so I admonished every single speaker and thought, ‘All I want to do is get through this ugly situation without adding any chaos to it,’ and then the motion to take down the words of the speaker, I thought, was just a total disgrace,” Mr. Cleaver said.

“I could have set the stage to take down the words of other Republicans that had spoken, but I just wanted to get through it without us embarrassing us anymore,” he said.

House Democrats voted to condemn Mr. Trump’s tweets insulting four freshman congresswomen after Mr. Cleaver’s display, arguing the comments amounted to a racist attack that pushed anti-immigrant sentiments.

The resolution passed mostly along party lines in a 240-187 vote, with four Republicans and newly minted independent Justin Amash voting with Democrats.

Gabriella Muñoz contributed to this article.

• Bailey Vogt can be reached at bvogt@washingtontimes.com.

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