|| By FITSNEWS || Leaders of the “Republican-controlled” S.C. House of Representatives have agreed in principle on a plan to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the S.C. State House in downtown Columbia, S.C.
The only question is when …
After our initial conversations with GOP leaders over the weekend revealed little appetite to address the controversial banner in the aftermath of last week’s horrific, racially motivated shooting in Charleston, S.C. – things have apparently shifted on a dime.
Eager to beat formerly pro-flag governor Nikki Haley to the punch (the governor has reportedly decided to call on lawmakers to take down the flag), House leaders have quickly sketched out an agreement to move the flag from the north lawn of the State House to a “place of honor” in the Confederate Relic Room – a government-run museum located in Columbia, S.C.
Originally, lawmakers had hoped to accomplish this in January via a “special order” piece of legislation – but it’s looking now as though they may not have that sort of time. In fact, sources tell FITS House leaders are currently exploring whether to use a procedural vote to take the flag down immediately … or at least within the next few days.
“We are in ‘when, not if’ territory now,” a legislative leader told FITS.
Would the State Senate go along with such a proposal? It’s unclear – although one GOP lawmaker in that chamber is already calling for the banner to come down.
“The Charleston murders have brought a festering issue back to the surface, and it simply can’t be ignored,” S.C. Senator Tom Davis wrote on his Facebook page. “Regardless of who’s right from a historical standpoint, it is indisputable that the Confederate battle flag now flying on the State House grounds has been misappropriated by hate groups as a symbol of their hatred, and while I respect the views of those who proudly view this flag as a symbol of their heritage, we must find another way to honor that heritage. This isn’t about re-opening an old wound; it’s about mending one that never properly healed.”
As lawmakers debated how best to address the flag issue, they were united in their contempt for Haley – who last year rebuffed efforts to remove the flag. Prior to that, Haley had gone on record supporting the flag’s presence on the State House grounds.
“Governor Haley could have done this at any time during the past six years, but no she waited to jump on the media bandwagon after a tragedy – and just as the presidential campaigns come into focus,” one lawmaker told us.
Another lawmaker was even more scathing in rebuking the governor …
“Name something Nikki Haley has tried to lead on other than the evening news,” the lawmaker told us.
Unlike these lawmakers, we’re not going to bash Haley for flip-flopping on this issue. Sure, we never supported the flag like she did – but we didn’t come out and call for its removal, either. At least not until after the bloodbath in Charleston.
“State leaders can leave it, move it, burn it or use it as a bath towel for all we care,” we wrote back in 2011.
In fact as recently as March of this year we were blasting the NAACP for their continued singular focus on taking it down.
Things change, though. And in this case they are changing quickly.
How quickly, though, is the question …
If lawmakers are successful in adding the flag to their current resolution of adjournment (the year’s legislative session technically ended in early June), they could conceivably vote to take the banner down as early as next week. Which means the bill would likely be sent to Haley’s desk for signature prior to the end of the month.
If they are unable to agree to such an amendment – or to insert the flag language into a proviso of the state budget – then the issue would have to wait until next January.