Republicans criticized Missouri Democratic Rep. Cori Bush Thursday after the St. Louis Democrat said a Black Republican was being used as a “prop.”On Wednesday, a faction of conservative Republicans nominated Florida Rep. Byron Donalds in their effort to prevent House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy from winning the speakership. Bush rebuked the hard-right Republicans after portrayed Donalds’ nomination as historic.
The following day, North Carolina Republican Rep. Dan Bishop accused Bush, one of two Black lawmakers representing Missouri in the House, of racism.
“I’ve spent a lot of time with Mr. Donalds, especially lately,” Bishop said. “He ain’t no prop. And if he were a prop, he wouldn’t be sitting where he is sitting. This is the tired, old, grotesquely racist rhetoric that we’ve seen far too long.”
The comment comes as tensions between Democrats, Republicans and the faction of Republicans opposing McCarthy ratcheted up with each subsequent gridlocked vote for speaker.
Over the course of three days, the votes have largely remained the same, with 21 Republicans objecting to McCarthy as speaker. On Thursday, when the House held its seventh vote no candidate garnered the 218 votes necessary to win the speakership.
House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has support from all 212 Democrats, while the Republican vote was split with 201 votes for McCarthy, 19 for Donald and one for former President Donald Trump. One House Republican voted present.
Jeffries is the first Black lawmaker nominated to serve as speaker. Donalds, who is entering his second term in the House, became the second when hard-right Republicans offered him as alternative to McCarthy during the second day of voting.
Donalds’ supporters framed it as a historic moment, prompting a denouncement from Bush, whose political career followed her involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement.
“[Donalds] is not a historic candidate for Speaker,” Bush said on Twitter Wednesday. “He is a prop. Despite being Black, he supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy. His name being in the mix is not progress—it’s pathetic.”
Bush’s tweet came after Texas Republican Rep. Chip Roy invoked civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in his speech nominating Donalds on Wednesday.
“However, we do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character,” Roy said.
The comment set off an audible groan from Democrats sitting on the other side of the chamber. A scattered few stood up to applaud, with one of the members shaking his head while he clapped.
After Bishop denounced Bush on the floor, she doubled down on her comments. On Twitter, she commented on an interview with Fox Business, saying he was not supporting the Black community.
“Working to overturn the 2020 election & embracing Trump MAGA fascism is not you rising, Byron,” Bush wrote. “You’re being used. It helps you politically at the expense of our community. THAT’S what’s shameful. It’s clear which party promotes white supremacist chaos and which works against it.”
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