Early this morning, the South Carolina House of Representatives followed the State Senate’s lead and voted to permanently remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds. Once ratified, the bill will be sent to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who supports the flag’s removal.
“Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity,” Haley said in a statement this morning. “I’m grateful for their service and their compassion. It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state.”
The House voted twice for the bill, first 93-27 at about 1 a.m and then 94-20 about 11 minutes later, but only after nearly 13 hours of debate during which Republican House members attempted to add amendments. From the Post and Courier:
Earlier in the night, Republican lawmakers refused to heed a call by Haley, who stressed the need for the flag and its pole to come down during a closed-door caucus meeting. Laurens Republican Rep. Mike Pitts, for example, said he took his hearing aids out when Haley spoke to the Caucus. Pitts filed dozens of amendments, initially withdrew 26, but later refiled the majority of them.
The most divisive amendment was filed by Rep. Rick Quinn, R-Cayce. It ordered the Confederate Relic Room to create a display for the battle flag when it’s removed. But proponents of the bill argued any changes would delay its passing.
After nearly three hours, Quinn asked his colleagues to scrap his amendment because the debate had gotten out of control. He also said he had received assurances the Senate would also pass a separate resolution that calls for the same display.
“I did what I believed was right,” Quinn said later. “I didn’t want the amendment to be the cause for the delay on voting on the issue.”
Eight hours into the debate, Republican Rep. Jenny Horne delivered a tearful, passionate speech urging her colleagues to pass the bill without changes as a tribute to the nine victims of last month’s massacre at Charleston’s Emmanuel AME church.
“I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body to do something meaningful, such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds on Friday,” Horne said. “If we amend this bill, we are telling the people of Charleston, ‘We don’t care about you. We do not care that somebody used this symbol of hate to slay (nine) innocent people who were worshiping their God.’”