It looks like Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will get to play by her own set of rules, so long as there is a Democratic majority to come bail her out.
During the heated vote to condemn President Donald Trump’s tweets calling for members of Congress — presumably Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) — to “go back” to the countries they were born in. Omar is the only immigrant in the group, leaving many believing this was a racially motivated attack on the four women of color.
During the vote, Speaker Pelosi called Trump’s words “racist” from the House floor. The problem is that this broke a House rule against personal attacks against the president that was established in the days of Thomas Jefferson.
Pelosi can either withdraw her statement, or the House can vote on the issue.
If Democrats choose not to take her words down, they’ll literally be changing the House rules.
(This is all very stupid, but welcome to the U.S. House of Representatives.)
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) July 16, 2019
Because this was a clear breach of a long-established rule, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) asked for the speaker to rephrase her statement and strike the personal attack against Trump from the record. Pelosi refused, causing chaos on the House floor.
Watch Pelosi’s remarks:
.@SpeakerPelosi: "Every single member of this institution…should join us in condemning the president's racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people." pic.twitter.com/nsskh7TuCS
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 16, 2019
Typically, when this rule is broken, the member is banned from speaking from the House floor for the rest of the day, leaving Republicans to think Pelosi had just exiled herself for the day by using a personal attack against the president.
BREAKING NEWS —> Speaker Pelosi just broke the rules of the House, and is no longer permitted to speak on the floor of the House for the rest of the day.
— Kevin McCarthy (@GOPLeader) July 16, 2019
But by ignoring the request, Pelosi lodged her own party between a rock and a hard place. House Majority Leader Stenny Hoyer (D-Md.) was forced to rule against the speaker. By doing that, he triggered a vote to allow Pelosi to break the rules and avoid her punishment.
3/ Majority Leader Hoyer read the ruling that Pelosi’s comments were indeed out of order.
Democratic-controlled House then voted against striking Pelosi's comments from the record.
The vote was 190 – 232, party line vote with independent Amash joining Dems
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) July 16, 2019
House Democrats and Rep. Justin Amash (I-Mich.) voted with Pelosi to allow her to break the House rules, outraging many Republicans and drawing criticisms from those who respect the House rules.
Democrats just decided the rules don't apply to them. They voted to let Nancy Pelosi break House rules to personally harass @realDonaldTrump. That's beneath the dignity of Congress. The American people deserve better than this Democrat foolishness. pic.twitter.com/nERGF3kC0Z
— Steve Scalise (@SteveScalise) July 16, 2019
.@SpeakerPelosi behavior on the House floor yesterday was disgraceful. She threw a tantrum and violated 230 years of precedent and the rules of the House.
She owes all her colleagues & the American people an apology.
It’s the People’s House, not Nancy Pelosi’s House.
— Liz Cheney (@Liz_Cheney) July 17, 2019
House Democrats do nothing on the border for 7 months, but are going to spend the entirety of today fighting for Speaker Pelosi’s ability to break House rules and call the President a racist on the floor.
This is your Democrat majority.
— Mark Meadows (@RepMarkMeadows) July 16, 2019
The rules don't apply to Madame Pelosi. https://t.co/o2NkuMKFIp
— Michelle Malkin (@michellemalkin) July 16, 2019
A majority of the House has now voted to back Pelosi. House in disarray. America in disarray. Democrats in array. Plus Justin Amash. Current score: 189-226, with 17 not voting and zero crossing the partisan aisle.
— Jonathan Allen (@jonallendc) July 16, 2019
Pelosi, on the other hand, seemed quite pleased with herself. She and some of her supporters took to Twitter to celebrate her actions.
In this House, we speak truth to power. pic.twitter.com/obQc9WqpY1
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) July 16, 2019
Let’s be very clear: @realDonaldTrump’s tweets were racist.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) July 16, 2019
Trump, of course, chimed in on Twitter, as well, noting that Pelosi was the first speaker to be ruled out of order since the 1980s.
….visible members of the House Democrats, who are now wedded to this bitterness and hate. The Republican vote was 187-4. Wow! Also, this was the first time since 1984 that the Speaker of the House was ruled Out of Order and broke the Rules of the House. Quite a day!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 17, 2019
It is not yet clear how Pelosi’s rule change will impact future procedure on the House floor, though it could have just opened a floodgate of uncivility against the president.