WASHINGTON, D.C. (ABC) — House Democrats moved to formally rebuke President Donald Trump‘s attacks against four Democratic congresswomen of color, readying a Tuesday night vote on a measure condemning his “racist” Twitter attacks telling the progressive lawmakers to “go back” to their countries.
In a series of tweets, the president has criticized the progressive Democratic congresswomen for what he characterized as “horrible and disgusting actions.” Over the weekend he also suggested that they should stop criticizing the government and “go back” to where they came from.
Three of the four Democrats targeted by Trump — Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan — were born in the United States. Rep. Ilhan Omar, a Muslim lawmaker representing Minnesota who Trump falsely accused of praising al-Qaeda, was born in Somalia.
The measure, introduced by Rep. Tom Malinowski, D-N.J., who was born in Poland, is titled “Condemning President Trump’s racist comments directed at Members of Congress.”
It unfavorably compares Trump’s comments to those of Presidents Franklin Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan, who praised the impact of immigrants on the United States, and “strongly condemns” Trump’s language, stating that it has “legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
“This is an affront to 22 million naturalized citizens who were born in another country,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md., a cosponsor of the measure, said of Trump’s tweets on the floor Tuesday. “It’s an affront to the hundreds of millions of Americans who understand and love how American democracy works.
The targeted group of freshmen women, known as “the squad” on Capitol Hill, responded to the president’s attacks in a news conference on Monday afternoon, and urged Democrats and supporters to focus on their agenda.
“This is a disruptive distraction from the issues of care, concern and consequence to the American people,” Pressley said.
Omar and Tlaib both cited Trump’s comments as justification to launch impeachment proceedings against the president.
Trump stood by his initial attacks on Monday and Tuesday.
We will never be a Socialist or Communist Country. IF YOU ARE NOT HAPPY HERE, YOU CAN LEAVE! It is your choice, and your choice alone. This is about love for America. Certain people HATE our Country….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 15, 2019
Roughly 42 Republicans in Congress criticized Trump’s attacks against their Democratic colleagues, according to an ABC News survey of 254 congressional Republicans, with a handful saying that they believed the comments were racist.
I am confident that every Member of Congress is a committed American. @realDonaldTrump’s tweets from this weekend were racist and he should apologize. We must work as a country to rise above hate, not enable it.
— US Rep. Mike Turner (@RepMikeTurner) July 15, 2019
“Political rhetoric has really gotten way, way over-heated all across the political spectrum,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday. “From the president to the speaker, to the freshmen members of the house, all of us have a responsibility to elevate the public discourse. Our words do matter, we all know politics is a contact support. But it’s about time we lowered the temperature all across the board. All of us ought to contribute to a better level of discourse.”
Pressed when he stopped short of calling the president’s attacks racist, McConnell said, “The president is not a racist. I think the tone of all of this is not good for the country.”
In response, Ocasio-Cortez told ABC News that McConnell is “complicit in advancing racism in America” for not criticizing Trump.”
“When you tell American citizens to go back to their country … that has everything to do with race,” she said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told reporters on Tuesday that he didn’t consider Trump’s comments to be racist, and accused Democrats of trying to play politics against Trump with the resolution on the floor.
“Let’s not be false about what is happening here today,” he said. “This is all about politics and beliefs of ideologies.”
House GOP leaders are encouraging Republicans to vote against the measure, a spokesperson for House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., told ABC News.
Trump’s attacks managed to unify House Democrats after weeks of infighting over the caucus response to the migrant crisis at the border, and the Trump administration’s immigration policies.
“These are our sisters,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said of the four Democrats targeted by Trump in a meeting Tuesday morning, according to an aide in the room.
“The fact is, as offended as we are, and we are offended by what he said about our sisters. He says that about people every day and they feel as hurt as we do about somebody in our family having this offence against them,” she said.
“This is, I hope, one where we will get Republican support. If they can’t support condemning the words of the President, well that’s a message in and of itself,” she added.