The decade's most triggering comedy
Republicans who now constitute the majority on the House Judiciary Committee engaged in a war of words over the Pledge of Allegiance with the Democrats on the committee on Wednesday as the Democrats attempted to politicize the issue.
Florida GOP Rep. Matt Gaetz offered an amendment allowing “inspirational constituents to share and lead in the Pledge of Allegiance,” an amendment Gaetz had attempted to get passed two years prior but was defeated by the Democrats on the committee.
Ranking member New York Democrat Rep. Jerrold Nadler remonstrated that the House already opened its meetings with a recitation of the Pledge, arguing, “I don’t know why we should pledge allegiance twice in the same day to show how patriotic we are.”
“I’m not seeing Mr. Nadler on the floor when the Pledge is done; most members are not present there, so it’s not accurate to say we do the Pledge every day or participate every day,” Mike Johnson (R-LA) snapped. “It may be offered, but we’re not there for it. This is the work of the Judiciary Committee; this is the committee that has charge of the Constitution, the fundamental freedoms, defending the very freedoms that the flag represents. It’s a bit absurd to suggest we couldn’t take 30 seconds at the beginning of this important work to do what should be done by all Americans. … I wish we had done this two years ago.”
Rep. David Cicilline, (D-RI), apparently trying to politicize the issue by citing January 6, then offered an amendment to the amendment saying, “Provided, however, the Pledge shall not be led by an individual who supported an insurrection against the government of the United States in any way.”
Gaetz fired back, “My concern would be if your definition of an insurrection is objecting to electors, then there would be many Democrats on the committee that wouldn’t be eligible to lead the Pledge … the last Republican to get sworn in absent Democratic objectors was George Herbert Walker Bush.”
Then Johnson addressed Cicilline and his cynical amendment directly, declaring, “I think it’s unfortunate that on the very first day, the adoption of the Rules package, by overly politicizing something that should not be politicized. You and I both know whether you want to acknowledge it here or not, this is about politics; this is a completely superfluous amendment; you’re making it political to try to make a point, and we get it. … I don’t think there’s any insurrectionist who’s going to show up to offer the Pledge and if they would they would not be recognized and so this completely unnecessary.”
He referenced North Carolina Democrat Deborah Ross quoting a SCOTUS decision that permitted school children to eschew saying the Pledge, reminding the committee that SCOTUS decisions had permitted the saying of a prayer before public meetings.
“We didn’t amend the rules to amend that, but gosh, I wish I’d have thought of it,” Johnson said. “Maybe we should amend the rules to begin with a prayer as well. That would really offend some of our friends on the other side. They have made the effort in the last couple of years to remove ‘under God’ from the witness oath here that has been a tradition of the United States Congress for as long as anyone can remember. In fact, in our subcommittee, the subcommittee on the Constitution, the chair in the last Congress, Mr. Cohen … actually prohibited the swearing in of witnesses because I demanded as ranking member that they also say, ‘so help me God’ at the end of their oath.”
“And so, it just goes to show you that there’s a strong contrast here between the two sides,” he continued. “It’s unfortunate, it’s sad, we wish it weren’t so but there are two different parties represented here, two different philosophies, two completely different worldviews, and it’s on display here on the very first day, in the very first moment of the Judiciary Committee in the 118th Congress.”
Cicilline’s amendment was defeated. Despite the carping from Democrats, Gaetz’s amendment was passed unanimously.