WASHINGTON — The Democrat-led House voted Tuesday night to condemn President Donald Trump's "racist comments" against four congresswomen of color.
It's been two days since Trump tweeted that four Democratic freshman—including Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib—should "go back" to their home countries even though all are citizens and three were born in the United States.
Despite strong GOP opposition, the resolution passed with a vote of 240-187.
Only four Republicans joined Democrats in the vote, and one of them was Michigan Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). Within minutes of the resolution passing, Upton explained his vote.
"Today’s resolution was targeted at the specific words that frankly are not acceptable from a leader in any work place large or small," the longtime congressman said. "If we’re going to bring civility back to the center of our politics, we must speak out against inflammatory rhetoric from anyone in any party anytime it happens."
The other three Republicans who voted alongside Upton were Reps. Susan Brooks of Indiana, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Will Hurd of Texas. Additionally, Rep. Justin Amash—a new Independent member of the House—also voted to condemn the tweets.
Upton has represented Michigan's 6th congressional district since 1987. On Monday, he also publicly criticized the president's comments. He said he was "appalled" by them.
Upton also explained his vote by quoting Ronald Reagan, "Thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity, we're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas, and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier...If we ever closed the door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.”
This is not the first time Upton has gone against the Republican rank-and-file. In February, he and then-Republican Amash voted with Democrats to block Trump's emergency declaration.
Upton is facing a Democratic challenger in the 2020 congressional race. State Rep. Jon Hoadley launched his campaign in April.
The measure approved by the House carries no legal repercussions for the president and the vote was highly partisan, unlikely to cost him with his die-hard conservative base.
The president has defended his comments, tweeting on Tuesday "Those Tweets were NOT Racist. I don't have a Racist bone in my body!" He wrote that House Republicans should "not show 'weakness'" by agreeing to a resolution he labeled "a Democrat con game."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also came to the president's defense, saying he is "not a racist."
In West Michigan, Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Zeeland) did not vote for the resolution, despite saying he "strongly disagreed" with Trump's comments. He issued a statement that said the resolution is just a political message. "America needs less politics and more solutions. In my view, the past six months in the House have been more about scoring political points and performing political theatre than solving problems. I view this resolution as a continuation of that flawed behavior which is why I voted against it," he said.
Similarly, Republican Rep. John Moolenaar, who represents Michigan's 4th district, said the resolution was partisan.
"The resolution pushed on the House floor today is partisan and fails to account for inflammatory remarks made by some House Democrats," he said. "In the past week, the American people have witnessed personal attacks, including profanities and accusations of disloyalty, between the president and members of Congress."
Amash did not immediately issue a statement about his vote on the resolution, however, he was quick to criticize the president. On Sunday, the five-term congressman called the tweets "racist and disgusting." He also continued with his reprimand saying, "President Trump motivates and encourages this xenophobia. It has gotten exponentially worse since 2015. I believe in the goodness of people. Most Americans are kind, caring, charitable, and loving. But we can’t take things for granted. We can’t allow our president or anyone else in government to divide us through suspicion of one another."
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