Rep. Cleaver: Pelosi Broke Rules During House Debate

Cleaver presided over House debate on a resolution to condemn President Trump's tweets

July 17, 2019

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D., Missouri) bemoaned a tense House floor debate that fell into disorder Tuesday, admitting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) was in part responsible for the breakdown in decorum.

Cleaver presided over the House debate on a resolution to condemn President Donald Trump's recent controversial tweets, in which the president called for progressive congresswomen to leave the country. After the hearing became a stage for partisan quarreling over a call to strike Pelosi's comments from the record, Cleaver threw down his gavel and walked away from the Speaker's chair in protest.

On CNN Wednesday morning, Alisyn Camerota asked Cleaver about his dramatic exit. "Why did you throw down your gavel and march away from the chair?" Camerota asked.

"Well, because frankly I was embarrassed to remain as the chair presiding over what should have been a very shameful moment for all of us, and that is here we were in the House of Representatives and every person who spoke violated the House rules," Cleaver replied.

Cleaver complained that both Republicans and Democrats needlessly contributed to a hostile atmosphere during the debate. The debate became disordered when Republicans asked for Speaker Pelosi's comments calling Trump's tweets "racist" to be struck for violating House rules, at which point Cleaver abandoned the chair.

"I was embarrassed as a legislator in the United States House of Representatives. Can you imagine what the world is thinking as they watch this dysfunctionality here in Washington?" Cleaver said.

Cleaver unambiguously criticized his Democratic colleagues, including Nancy Pelosi, for breaking House rules by branding Trump a racist.

"Almost everybody who came up violated the rules," Cleaver said. "The actual legislation, the title on the legislation violated the rules. 'Racist' was in the title of the resolution. And then, if you look at the footage, just about everybody who came up there said what Nancy Pelosi said, that the President's words were racist."

Cleaver then said he was embarrassed to have presided over a session "where the goal was to make things worse," and affirmed that Pelosi along with other Democratic and Republican lawmakers had disregarded House rules.