The House on Thursday approved a resolution denouncing socialism in a bipartisan vote that fractured the Democratic caucus.
The resolution overwhelmingly cleared the chamber in a 328-86-14 vote. The majority of Democrats — 109 of them — voted with all Republicans for the resolution, while 86 voted against it and 14 voted “present.”
The measure, which runs three pages, says “socialist ideology necessitates a concentration of power that has time and time again collapsed into Communist regimes, totalitarian rule, and brutal dictatorships.”
It argues that “many of the greatest crimes in history were committed by socialist ideologues” — mentioning Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Fidel Castro, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Il, Kim Jong Un, Daniel Ortega, Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro — and it lists atrocities committed under socialist regimes.
“Congress denounces socialism in all its forms, and opposes the implementation of socialist policies in the United States of America,” the resolution reads.
When introducing the measure, the office of Rep. María Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) — a sponsor of the resolution — said passing it “would make a bold statement that the People’s House unequivocally denounces this cruel and unjust ideology.”
“It would also ensure the United States commits to never begin or normalize the implementation of socialist policies that inevitably lead to economic ruin and political authoritarianism,” Salazar’s office added in a statement.
Several Democrats who voted against the resolution expressed concerns regarding the future of Social Security and Medicare. They noted that Republicans on the Rules Committee rejected an amendment proposed by Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.) which sought to clarify that opposition to the implementation of socialist policies in the U.S. does not include federal programs like Medicare and Social Security.
Republicans are pushing for spending cuts to be linked to a debt ceiling increase and some have floated cuts to entitlement programs. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), however, has said cuts to the two federal programs are “off the table.”
“Here’s what this is really about: More and more members on the other side of the aisle are calling for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, and many have referred to these programs as socialism throughout their existence,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said on the House floor during debate. “The other night in the Rules Committee, they showed their cards. Republicans refused an amendment to declare that Social Security and Medicare is not socialism.”
“This resolution is little about intelligent discourse and everything to do about laying the groundwork to cut Social Security and Medicare,” he added.
Additionally, some Democrats who voted against the measure have been described as democratic socialists. Reps. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Cori Bush (D-Mo.) were all endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America in the 2022 cycle.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who supported the resolution, condemned socialist autocrats during a speech on the House floor before taking aim U.S. leaders who attack democratic elections and other American programs.
“I rise to condemn all socialist autocrats who place power and wealth over their own citizens. Yet this resolution ignores some of their worst evils, then falls silent while American leaders mimic their cruel tactics,” she said.
“Let’s condemn socialist abuses, yes, but leaders on this very floor seek to overturn democratic elections, confiscate long-held rights and gut programs our families, veterans and service members need,” she added.
Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-N.M.), who voted “present,” denounced socialism on the House floor, but criticized House Republicans for spending time on that resolution and not other matters.
“i absolutely denounce the brutal and communist regimes of Castro, Maduro, Stalin and other dictators in the whereas clauses of this resolution. But sadly, instead of spending our precious moments in the People’s House expanding opportunity for hard-working Americans, supporting ranchers, farmers, and rural communities, lowering health care costs and strengthening Social Security and Medicare, we’re spending hours — actually days — in pure political theater,” she said.