The S.C. Senate moved forward with plans Monday to lower the Confederate battle flag from the State House grounds and retire it to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
The 37-3 vote gave a bill removing the flag the second of third readings. The Senate must take one more vote Tuesday to send the bill to the House. The final vote requires a two-thirds majority vote for passage, a rule set under set in the 2000 law that moved the Civil War icon off the Capitol dome…
The vote was emotional in Senate where senators debated remembering the heritage of Confederate soldiers and the memory of state Sen. Clementa Pinckney, who was one of nine church African-American parishioners killed on June 17 during a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston…
“Let today be the beginning of a story about a new South Carolina,” said state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, encouraging lawmakers to vote for the bill.
Question for South Carolinians: Does the rule about “second” and “third readings” typically produce a lower vote total on the final vote, a la how the U.S. Senate frequently gets more votes for cloture on a bill than it does for final passage? If they’re 37-3 today it seems impossible that they won’t get two-thirds of the chamber tomorrow, but I’m curious about how different the tally for the next vote might be. For what it’s worth, today’s result outperformed the whip count of the state senate conducted by a local paper last week. That survey had 34 senators voting yes with a few undecided. The undecideds evidently broke towards removal.
An interesting footnote from this afternoon’s debate:
The senate has voted to table amendments that would have pushed the vote on the Confederate flag issue to a statewide referendum (36-3), allow the flag to flown on Statehouse grounds on Confederate Memorial Day (22-17) or replace the current flag with the First National Flag of the Confederate States of America (34-6). Now, various senators are taking turns speaking about the issue. No one has yet made a motion to vote on the bill that would remove the Confederate battle from the Statehouse grounds.
They could have punted this question to the public but virtually no one in the chamber except the flag’s few supporters, apparently, wanted to go that route. You can guess why: That vote might not have gone the way Nikki Haley and various other state Republican leaders like Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham would prefer. Last year, a poll taken of South Carolinians found that 61 percent wanted the flag to stay on the statehouse grounds. Maybe the Charleston horror has pushed that below 50 percent (nationally, although most Americans still see the flag as a symbol of southern pride, 55 percent now oppose displaying it on government property), but the South Carolina GOP would be taking a risk in finding out via a high-profile referendum. Having rejected the flag as inherently hurtful to black citizens, whatever someone’s intent may be in flying it, how would they spin a referendum if heavily Republican South Carolina voted to keep it as is? Given the extent of the backlash to stupidities like taking “The Dukes of Hazzard,” there’s a fair chance the vote would have gone the wrong way purely out of defiance. No wonder the amendment was shot down.