WASHINGTON — Congressman Emanuel Cleaver has issued a statement, hours after he abruptly left the chair during debate on whether to condemn President Trump’s recent tweets.
The contentious moment came after Cleaver had become exasperated with Republicans.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer made the announcement that the House parliamentarian had ruled Pelosi’s comments, where she called the President “racist,” were not in order and should not be used in debate.
“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. I abandon the chair,” Cleaver said before dropping the gavel and leaving the podium.
While presiding in the House, @Repcleaver: "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. I abandon the chair." pic.twitter.com/tEikUaRYPt
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 16, 2019
“I had been calling balls and strikes all day and all of a sudden, let’s escalate it,” Cleaver said, describing what had happened. “It’s one of those moments where you realize that people have come here for the purpose of conflict, being engaged in conflict as opposed to getting something done.”
“People were violating the rules the whole time, on both sides,” he added.
The House would go on to vote to allow Pelosi’s words back onto the record and to condemn President Donald Trump’s tweets.
The final vote was 240-187, with four Republicans and one Independent voting with Democrats to condemn the President’s tweets singling out four Congresswomen of color.
Cleaver, who chairs the House Civility Caucus, said in a statement that he’s frustrated with the direction of discourse in the country, but also that he has hope for America’s future.
I want to thank Leader Hoyer for assuming the chair and reading the parliamentarian’s ruling following my abdication. Like the vast majority of Americans, I’ve grown increasingly frustrated with the childish rancor of our public discourse. Our inability to conduct ourselves in a civil and respectable fashion has paralyzed the most powerful government in the history of the world, and for what? A 10-second soundbite on prime time news and a few thousand twitter followers?
If this is what our government has come to, then we are in serious trouble as a nation. My frustration reflects that of my constituents and the American people as a whole. I have spent my entire life working with people of all faiths and stripes in an effort solve real-world problems with concrete solutions, but never have we been this divided and this unwilling to listen to countering opinions or accept objective truths. If we’re going to solve the cataclysmic challenge of climate change, the prodigious problem of income inequality or the evasive challenge of equal justice under the law, it is going to take all of us, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, men and women, elders and youth.
I have unshakable and eternal faith in what we can accomplish as a people, but we can only overcome these challenges as a union. I truly believe American democracy is the greatest experiment ever conducted by a society. However, a house divided against itself cannot stand, regardless of how strong the foundation. I call on all of my colleagues and all of America to listen more and talk less, to show compassion for those who are in pain, and to resist the temptation to fight when others wish to escalate.