Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers estimated that some 100 Republicans would have voted against his Interior spending bill had it moved forward with an amendment banning the Confederate flag in national cemeteries. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis last week, but it remains unclear how the parties reconcile the desire of some Republicans to protect the rights of their constituents to adorn graves with the Confederate flag with the desire of Democrats to entirely banish what they see as a symbol of hatred and racism.
Rep. Curt Clawson was the only Republican to vote with Democrats last week on the Confederate flag issue. He said his vote was informed by his time playing college basketball with African-Americans, in addition to his other friends and family members of color.
"If we want to get those kinds of folks in the next election we have to show that we're not afraid of social topics and racial topics," Clawson said. "Will there be tough days when we finally decide to cross the Rubicon? Of course. But the sooner we do it, the quicker we get it behind us, and it shows that we are a more welcoming party."