In the debate over the House resolution condemning President Trump's tweets, Nancy Pelosi characterized them as racist

This sparked an attempt by Republicans to have the speech stricken

“I ask that her words be taken down,” Collins said as Pelosi walked away from the rostrum to a spattering of applause. “I make a point of order that the gentlewoman’s words are unparliamentary and request they be taken down.”

This sparked a debate in which the presiding Democrat abandoned the chair. Steny Hoyer (House Majority Leader) then took up the chair and called for a vote on striking the speech, since the parliamentarian said it violated House rules

Taking over the duties of the chair at Pelosi's request, Hoyer announced the parliamentarian's ruling against the speaker that “the words should not be used in debate,” according to a precedent from May 15, 1984.

The rule in question is this

Under House rules, lawmakers cannot “engage in personalities” against the president, meaning they are not supposed to impugn the character or intent of whoever occupies the White House.

Under Jefferson’s Manual, the text governing procedure of the chamber specifically bars references to racial or other discrimination by the president. Remarks by House members cannot refer to the president as racist or the president “having made a bigoted or racist statement.”

The House voted not to strike the text and Hoyer reversed himself

“I think it was the right decision to go with precedent. It was the right position not to strike the words,” Hoyer said.

Are there any other repercussions from this?

1 Answer 1


No. The constitution gives the House the right to arrange its own affairs. The parliamentarian advises, but it is up to the House to decide, by voting if necessary.

In this case, the House has made its decision. The House has decided that, regardless of the parliamentarian's advice and the precedent from 1984, the language was not unparliamentary. There is no right of appeal or judicial review of such matters.

There may be other consequences: perhaps others will be less willing to follow the advice of the parliamentarian in future debates, perhaps personal attacks on the president and others will become more common.

  • 1
    Did the vote reject that it was unparliamentary, or just reject that it be stricken from the record? Commented Jul 18, 2019 at 11:36

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