Hoyer Says Confederate Flag Flap Is GOP's Excuse on Spending Bills

“We believe the appropriations process largely is in trouble because the Republicans are divided on it,” the minority whip says.

Confederate flags fly over the graves of Confederate soldiers burried in Magnolia Cemetery on July 14, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina.

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

House Republicans are using the Confederate battle flag flap “as an excuse” to cover up their inability to corral enough of their own party members to support spending bills, says the No. 2 House Democrat.

“We believe the appropriations process largely is in trouble because the Republicans are divided on it,” Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland told reporters on Tuesday. 

Hoyer said Republican assertions that Democrats may offer up an amendment “on the display, sale or imprimatur of the federal government on the Confederate battle flag is also, I think, just indicative that they don't want their members to vote on it.”

“I think they are using that as an excuse. They're having trouble with their appropriations process, just as they did last year,” said Hoyer.

A House Republican leadership aide who asked not to be identified by name said Hoyer's claims were not true.

So, then, will Democrats not attempt to attach such amendments banning the display of the Confederate battle flag and other Confederate symbols at national cemeteries and the Capitol? A bill to fund the Department of the Interior stalled earlier this month after Republicans tried to add an amendment that would protect the Confederate flag in national cemeteries.

“I don't know the answer to that. I haven't checked with every member,” said Hoyer. “You wouldn't think I would check with 188 members on whether they would offer an amendment. I don't know.” 

“But I do know—let's say we would offer amendments—why should that be of concern to the Republican Party, unless they're embarrassed by how their members would vote?” he asked.

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