Measure Defeated in House
Jim Abrams, Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, March 24, 1999 2:34 AM EST
(AP) - Condemning all forms of racism and bigotry would normally
make for an easy vote in Congress.
such a measure went down to defeat Tuesday, with Democrats and
Republicans accusing each other of sinister political purposes.
almost all Democrats either voting against the bill or "present,"
the resolution stating that the House "denounces all those who
practice or promote racism, anti-Semitism, ethnic prejudice or
religious intolerance" failed to come up with the two-thirds majority
needed for passage under special House rules.
vote was 254 in favor, 152 against and 24 voting "present."
charged that the GOP leadership, without consulting them, substituted
the general language for a Democratic measure that would have
specifically condemned the Council of Conservative Citizens, a
St. Louis-based group that critics say has a racist agenda.
"embarrassing substitute," said Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., is
"a cover for those Republicans who don't want to condemn the CCC
because so many Republican leaders have been associated with this
Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., and Rep. Bob Barr, R-Ga.,
have addressed the group, but have denied knowing of their racist
J.C. Watts, R-Okla., the only black Republican in Congress and
chief sponsor of the GOP bill, said singling out one group would
"commit a crime of omission by giving a pass to other groups that
said after the vote that he was "shocked that these Democrats
decided to play partisan political games with the race issue.
As someone who has faced the cruel reality of racism in my life,
I am deeply offended."
Southern Poverty Law Center identifies 537 hate groups and the
GOP language would condemn all of them, Watts said. The House
Judiciary Committee put out a statement saying it would cover
not only the CCC but such groups as the Ku Klux Klan, Aryan Nations,
National Association for the Advancement of White People and the
Knights of Freedom.
said he condemned the racist positions of the CCC and accused
the Democrats of hypocrisy for not criticizing a fellow Democrat
for addressing the same group. "Practice a little consistency,"
said Barr, alleging that Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo.,
spoke to the group.
a CCC spokesman denied that, as did Democratic lawmakers.
original Democratic resolution was offered by Rep. Bob Wexler,
D-Fla., who said the GOP version was a "sham" that was "designed
only to derail our resolution and if successful hand the CCC an
Chief Executive Officer Gordon Baum, in a statement last week
on the Wexler bill, denied that the group supports white supremacy
and anti-Semitism, and called the resolution "the product of left-wing
partisans who seek to silence all conservative expression."
© 1999 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.