A fight over whether to say the Pledge of Allegiance consumed much of the first meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday as its new Republican leadership got underway.
As the committee established its ground rules, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) proposed that each meeting begin with the Pledge of Allegiance. Multiple Democrats on the committee took issue with that, triggering a heated back-and-forth that didn’t end until Gaetz’s proposal finally passed about 40 minutes later.
Committee member Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ) tweeted about the incident: “Would you believe me if I said the first half hour of our @JudiciaryGOP hearing has been wasted because Democrats oppose saying the pledge of allegiance?”
Footage of the full meeting is available on C-SPAN. Gaetz had previously made a similar proposal to the Judiciary Committee that failed in 2021.
Introducing the proposal, Gaetz described the pledge as a “national symbol of pride and unity.” But Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) called the move “unnecessary” because representatives already pledge allegiance every day on the House floor.
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) said he found it “ironic” that some members of the Judiciary Committee had “supported the insurrection” but now “insist” on the Pledge of Allegiance. That line of thought was followed by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who suggested an amendment that “any individual who supported an insurrection against the government of the United States in any way” be prohibited from leading the committee’s pledge.
Gaetz, who was among lawmakers who objected to the certification of President Joe Biden’s election on Jan. 6, 2021, said that if that counted as an insurrection, then “there would be many Democrats on the committee that wouldn’t be eligible to lead the pledge” under Cicilline’s proposal.
“I mean, the last Republican president to get sworn in absent Democratic objectors was George Herbert Walker Bush,” Gaetz said.
After roll call votes, Cicilline’s amendment failed a vote of 13-24, with every Republican voting against it. Gaetz’s original proposal to begin each meeting with the pledge then passed unanimously, with every Democrat voting in favor along with every Republican.