Congress has officially called on President Donald Trump to take an unequivocal stance against neo-Nazis, white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and hate groups.
The legislation passed unanimously in the Senate on Monday and without objection in the House on Tuesday. It now awaits the president’s signature.
According to a reporter with Politico, the White House once again will not make a commitment.
Asked whether president will sign, WH spox says “No announcements at this time.” https://t.co/Scf2yh14AW
— Kyle Cheney (@kyledcheney) September 12, 2017
According to the joint resolution, Congress “rejects White nationalism, White supremacy, and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”
Further, Congress “urges” Trump and his administration to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and White supremacy” as well as “address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”
Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both of Virginia, led the resolution in the Senate. A host of cosponsors, Democrats and Republicans alike, also all got on board, including Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Ark.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Va.), who represents Charlottesville, and Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) introduced it to the House.
The joint resolution calls out the violent protest that took place in Charlottesville, which included a host of neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The text specifically calls the rally a “domestic terrorist attack.”
Counter-protesters, including Heather Heyer, also attended. Heyer, 32, was killed at the demonstration after a white supremacist drove his car into the crowd. She is mentioned by name in the legislation, as are Virginia State Police Officers Lieutenant H. Jay Cullen and Trooper Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, who were killed in a helicopter crash while patrolling the event.
“Our nation’s elected leaders have a responsibility to stand up to forces of hatred and bigotry wherever they may be found. What happened in Charlottesville was domestic terrorism perpetrated by white supremacists who tragically cut short the life of a young woman, Heather Heyer, and led to the deaths of two Virginia State Police troopers Berke Bates and Lt. Jay Cullen. The United States Congress has spoken up with one voice to recognize the lives of those we lost, to unconditionally condemn racist speech and violence, and to denounce the white nationalists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and other hate groups,” Warner and Kaine said in a statement. “We hope that President Trump will move quickly to sign this resolution and commit his Administration to address the rise of hate groups.”
“Tonight, the House of Representatives spoke in one unified voice to unequivocally condemn the shameful and hate-filled acts of violence carried out by the KKK, white nationalists, white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville,” said Connolly. “I hope this bipartisan action will help heal the wounds left in the aftermath of this tragedy and send a clear message to those that seek to divide our country that there is no place for hate and violence.”
After the deadly Charlottesville protests, Trump refused to speak out against white supremacists. He described “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” in response to the violent rally and noted that there were some “very fine people” on the neo-Nazi side.
Notably, according to the Washington Post, the original draft of the legislation had stark differences from the final version.
An early draft “circulated by Garrett’s office” called out “white supremacists and neo-Nazis, from across many states” and “counter protesters” as “engag[ing] in acts of violence,” according to the Post.
Stronger rhetoric regarding Heyer’s death was also considered in the beginning, the Post further reported:
“Connolly suggested adding that Heyer was ‘a victim of domestic terrorism’ who lost her life while ‘protesting against hate groups,’ according to language reviewed by The Post. He also proposed noting that Trump ‘failed to condemn white supremacists and erroneously blamed ‘both sides’ for the violence.’
“That was a deal-breaker for Republicans, and negotiations fell apart only to be revived last week when Warner and Kaine offered their own resolution with bipartisan support.”