|05-17-2016, 04:10 AM||#1|
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White House cool on Clyburn plan to remove Confederate flag at Citadel, cites ‘First Amendment concerns’
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration supports removing the Confederate flag from the chapel at the Citadel, but doesn’t like the way Congressional Democrats are going about it.
The White House on Monday is taking issue with an effort spearheaded by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., to withhold Reserve Officers’ Training Corps funds from any military academy that still displays the Confederate flag.
“The Administration strongly supports the removal of the Confederate battle flag — a divisive symbol and reminder of systematic oppression and racial subjugation — from the Nation’s universities and institutions,” the administration wrote in its 17-page rebuttal to the House version of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, to which Clyburn is attempting to affix his amendment. “Cutting off Federal funding for an
ROTC program on the ground that an institution displays the flag, however, raises First Amendment concerns.
“The administration therefore urges Congress to pursue this important objective through other means,” the statement concludes.
Clyburn — via the House Armed Services Committee’s ranking Democrat, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith of Washington State — sought to include the amendment during the panel’s debate on the defense authorization bill.
Ultimately, the provision was included, albeit amended so as to nullify the overall purpose.
The Board of Visitors of the Citadel actually voted last year to remove the Confederate flag from Summerall Chapel, a reaction to the ongoing debate around the symbol in the aftermath of the shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church. The board, however, claims it is prevented from going through with the plan due to a clause in the “Heritage Act.” The S.C. state Legislature has to amend the law to allow the Citadel to proceed.
Clyburn and Smith say their amendment is designed to put pressure on the Legislature to amend the Heritage Act. But during the committee markup last month, Armed Services Committee Republicans basically nullified its purpose, moving to amend the amendment to exempt military institutions where the Board of Visitors has voted to take the flag down.
The two Democrats are now trying to reinsert their original language by forcing an up or down vote on the House floor during full debate on the defense bill later this week. Republican leaders will make final decisions late Tuesday as to which amendments will get floor consideration.
The White House’s lack of support for the strategy, however, will not help make their case to Republicans, who are wary about letting a controversial matter muddle an already complicated bill.
White House cool on Clyburn plan to remove Confederate flag at Citadel, cites ‘First Amendment concerns’ - Post and Courier
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