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David Cicilline to Gaetz: Should Insurrectionists Lead the Pledge of Allegiance?

David Cicilline to Gaetz: Should Insurrectionists Lead the Pledge of Allegiance?

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline

Congressman Matt Gaetz wants "inspirational constituents" to lead the pledge at House meetings. Out Rep. Cicilline wondered if those who try to overthrow the government should be allowed the opportunity.

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline confronted Republican colleague Matt Gaetz over the Pledge of Allegiance in a House Judiciary Committee meeting Wednesday, with Cicilline saying supporters of an insurrection against the government shouldn’t lead the pledge.

In a discussion of rules for the current session of Congress, Gaetz said the committee could begin its meetings with the pledge, with the chair having “the ability to invite inspirational constituents” to lead the recitation, NBC News reports. He offered an amendment to this effect.

Rep. Jerry Nadler of New York, a Democrat, immediately objected, noting that members of the House of Representatives already recite the pledge every day, and he didn’t see the need to do it twice. Another Democrat, Hank Johnson of Georgia, pointed out that several Republican members of the committee voted against certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election (those members included Gaetz). The certification vote was famously interrupted by the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, by supporters of Donald Trump who claimed the election was stolen from him.

Then the drama started, with Cicilline, a gay Democrat from Rhode Island and a long-serving House member, proposed an amendment to Gaetz’s amendment, providing “the pledge shall not be led by an individual who supported an insurrection against the government of the United States in any way.”

“This pledge is an affirmation of your defense of democracy and the Constitution,” Cicilline said. “It’s hard to take that claim seriously if, in fact, an individual who in any way supported an insurrection against the government of the United States is allowed to lead the pledge. So I would ask Mr. Gaetz to accept this friendly amendment, and I look forward to supporting it.”

Gaetz asked if Cicilline’s definition of an insurrection is objecting to electors, which some Democrats have done in the past. Cicilline said that wasn’t his definition, and he said the committee chairman could determine if someone had participated in an insurrection. “I think this language is important,” he said, as he and Gaetz both raised their voices.

“I’m concerned that you may be disqualifying too many of your own members,” Gaetz said, and Cicilline responded, “I’m not concerned about that at all.”

“You want to give someone the right to stand before the House Judiciary Committee and lead the Pledge of Allegiance, at a bare minimum, let’s guarantee that that person has not participated or supported or in any way, helped an overthrow of the government of the United States.”

Some other Republicans then spoke out in favor of Gaetz’s original amendment, including Jeff Van Drew of New Jersey, who said, “I can’t believe we're having this debate.”

In the end, the committee, which has a Republican majority, voted Cicilline’s measure down by 24-13, then adopted Gaetz’s proposal 39-0.

Watch video of the exchange below.

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