Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal., speaks to reporters as she makes her way to the U.S. House chamber to vote on a resolution denouncing comments by President Trump targeting four progressive Democratic congresswomen of color. Pete Marovich/Getty Images
Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images
Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

The Jolt: Doug Collins and a U.S. House battle over language

On a largely partisan vote, the U.S. House on Tuesday evening passed a rare resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s “racist comments” – a phrase used four times in the document -- aimed at four congresswomen of color.

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, made the closing argument for Democrats in the chamber. “I know racism when I see it. I know racism when I feel it, and at the highest level of government, there is no room for racism,” Lewis said. Notice how he phrased those remarks.

Because before the vote, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, scored a short-lived victory over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who wasn’t as careful as Lewis:

At the tail end of an impassioned speech, Pelosi urged lawmakers to condemn the president’s “racist tweets.”

“To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people,” she concluded.

The congressional rulebook considers “references to racial or other discrimination on the part of the President” to be out of order, and Collins, the top Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, asked Pelosi whether she would like to rephrase her remarks. After Pelosi declined – she said she’d cleared her remarks with the House parliamentarian ahead of time - Collins asked for Pelosi’s remarks be struck from the record.

"For me, it was purely that no one in our body is above the rules," Collins said in a subsequent interview, "and the speaker found out about that today."

Proceedings screeched to a halt for nearly two hours as lawmakers and aides debated with the parliamentarian. Atlanta Democrat John Lewis watched from the front row as Collins whispered with GOP leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise from across the chamber.

Pelosi’s top deputy eventually ruled that Pelosi’s comments were indeed out of order – handing Collins a political victory – but not before another one of her designees stormed off the dais in a dramatic protest….

Democrats quickly voted to keep Pelosi’s comments on the congressional record, and they also reversed a rule that would have barred the Californian from speaking on the floor for the rest of the day.

We think the last time a House speaker’s words were struck from the record was in 1984. Thomas “Tip” O’Neill had the gavel. The man at the center of that fight? A relatively unknown Georgia congressman named Newt Gingrich.

The young rabble-rousing Republican had already learned how to harness the power of the brand new broadcaster C-SPAN to make a name for himself among conservatives. After he went to the House floor to slam Democrats for undermining U.S. foreign policy by writing a “Dear Commandante” letter to Nicaraguan strongman Daniel Ortega, O’Neill unleashed on Gingrich. From The Atlanta Journal’s May 16, 1984 edition:

Tuesday, O'Neill told Gingrich, 'My personal belief is that you deliberately stood in that well . . . speaking to an empty House . . . and challenged the Americanism' of several Democratic members. 'It was the lowest thing that I have ever seen in my 32 years in Congress.'

Rep. Trent Lott (R-Miss.), the House Republican whip, moved immediately to strike O'Neill's words from the record as inappropriately personal in nature a move viewed as a mild form of reprimand.

Rep. Joe Moakley (D-Mass.), presiding over the House at the time, ruled the speaker's comments stricken. A bristling O'Neill then remarked, ''I was expressing my opinion very mildly, because I think much worse than what I said.''

Unlike Pelosi, O’Neill didn’t challenge the ruling that struck down his remarks, which under House rules barred him from speaking on the House floor for the rest of the day.

On Tuesday, that difference is what prompted the loudest protest from Collins, who led the floor fight for Republicans as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee.

In an interview, the Gainesville-based congressman charged that Democrats were presiding over a breakdown of House decorum. "What the Democrats did today is, they said our speaker can break the House rules and we don't care,” he said.

>> Related: Ga. Republicans distance themselves from Trump’s racist tweets

>> Related: Georgian tapped to be Trump’s new defender-in-chief

>> Related: Georgia’s Doug Collins takes lead role in fight over Mueller report

All five Georgia Democrats backed the resolution, while all nine of the state’s Republican members rejected it.

U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, said didn’t believe Trump is a racist, but also condemned the current rhetorical climate.

“I share the frustrations of the majority of Americans and my colleagues about the continued derogatory statements towards our country and unprofessional language and rhetoric coming from both sides,” he said after the vote. “Uncivil discourse diminishes our ability to pass meaningful legislation that works to solve the challenges our country faces.”

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The Georgia GOP once had a African-American minority recruitment officer. Click here to read what he thinks of Donald Trump today.

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The Charleston, S.C., Post and Courier reports that former congressman and governor Mark Sanford is contemplating a GOP primary challenge to President Donald Trump. The state’s Republican party is not pleased:

“The last time Mark Sanford had an idea this dumb, it killed his Governorship. This makes about as much sense as that trip up the Appalachian Trail,” S.C. GOP Chairman Drew McKissick said in an emailed statement. The comment was later shared on the S.C. GOP Twitter account, which features a banner image of a Trump-Pence campaign logo.

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Three Georgians are part of the Women for Trump coalition that launched Tuesday: Alveda King, a niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and an anti-abortion activist; Ginger Howard, one of the state’s Republican National Committee members; and Julianne Thompson, a Gwinnett strategist and former tea party organizer.

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There’s a reason for those stress-lined faces on Atlanta’s streets. The website studentloanhero.com says its researchers analyzed the median balances of nearly half a million credit reports from the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. What they found:

Borrowers residing in Washington, D.C., carry the most student debt, with a median balance of $29,314. And 15% of those borrowers owe more than $100,000 — the highest percentage among the 100 metros under review.

Atlanta and Charleston, S.C., have the second- and third-highest median balances, at $28,706 and $27,591, respectively

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Using a database maintained by the Drug Enforcement Administration “that tracks the path of every single pain pill sold in the United States,” the Washington Post has built an interactive, county-by-county map of the opioid epidemic.

Two of the most opioid-saturated counties in Georgia were Haralson (111.7 pills per person, per year) in west Georgia and Stephens (118.8 pills per person, per year) on the eastern border.

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On the Republican side of the Sixth District congressional race, Brandon Beach went on the offensive Tuesday, from a distance:

The state senator told John Fredericks, a former Georgia broadcaster who has a D.C.-based show, that Handel has “never been re-elected to an office in her career” and that if she wins the GOP nod she’ll lose again to U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath, D-Marietta.

Beach also said Handel struggled to defeat Jon Ossoff in 2017 and lost to McBath last year because she didn’t cozy up enough to President Donald Trump, who only narrowly carried the district in the 2016 vote.

“I think one of the reasons she lost is that she distanced herself from Trump, and on immigration,” Beach said, adding: “We have to embrace the president on his policies.”

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A closer look at Teresa Tomlinson’s fundraising disclosure shows that some prominent Democrats have placed early bets on her bid for U.S. Senate. 

The former Columbus mayor’s contributors include former state Rep. Ronnie Mabra; Gordon Giffin, former U.S. ambassador to Canada; ex-insurance commissioner candidate Cindy Zeldin; and long-time party operative David Worley. 

Much like in the presidential race, most others are staying on the sidelines for now. 

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Speaking of campaign fundraising, the news outlet Axios pulled together anifty list ranking the top House and Senate fundraisers across the country. Between April and June, U.S. Sen. David Perdue was just outside the top 10, pulling in $1.9 million. Tomlinson was toward the middle of the pack.

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One Georgia congressional candidate who struggled to pull in campaign donations during the same period was 13th District challenger Michael Owens. The former Cobb County Democratic Party chairman, who is primarying U.S. Rep. David Scott from his left, only pulled in about $20,000 during his first two months in the race. Most were small donations from the fundraising site ActBlue.

Scott, meanwhile, amped up his fundraising to pull in more than $233,000 during the second quarter.

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