U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman had strong words on Twitter Tuesday for President Donald Trump’s recent tweets telling four Democratic congresswomen of color, three of whom were born in the U.S., to “go back to where you came from.”
The president’s words, Wittman said in his own tweet, are “demeaning, disunifying and completely unnecessary.”
Still, Wittman, R-1st, stopped short of calling Trump’s tweet racist and voted with his fellow Republicans against a resolution formally condemning Trump words and saying they have “legitimized and increased fear and hatred of new Americans and people of color.”
Wittman explained his vote by saying the resolution was about “messaging” and not about getting work done for the American people.
“I am focused on getting real results for the American people - fixing our broken roads and bridges, expanding access to broadband in rural areas, lowering the price of prescription drugs, securing our borders, and rebuilding our nation’s military,” Wittman said in a series of Tweets released Tuesday, July 16.
In no way do I approve of the President’s tweets he sent Sunday. They were demeaning, disunifying, and completely unnecessary. As a nation of immigrants, we should allow individuals to achieve the “American Dream” no matter their race, ethnicity, faith or country of origin.— Rep. Rob Wittman (@RobWittman) July 16, 2019
Prince William County’s two other members of Congress – Rep. Gerald Connolly and Jennifer Wexton – voted with their fellow Democrats in favor of the resolution.
“I voted to condemn this President's racist attacks on our fellow Americans. I voted to affirm that we are a nation of immigrants whose diversity is our strength,” Wexton (10th) wrote in a July 16 tweet. “We will not surrender the moral leadership of America to Donald Trump.”
I voted to condemn this President's racist attacks on our fellow Americans.— Rep. Jennifer Wexton (@RepWexton) July 16, 2019
I voted to affirm that we are a nation of immigrants whose diversity is our strength.
We will not surrender the moral leadership of America to Donald Trump.https://t.co/6u8uHANrsK
Connolly (11th) also voted with Democrats and later quoted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Ca., in a tweet.
“Every single Member of this institution, Democratic and Republican, should join us in condemning the President's racist tweets. To do anything less would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office…” – @SpeakerPelosi— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) July 16, 2019
Prince William County’s congressional delegation voted on party lines on the resolution Pelosi introduced Tuesday in response to remarks Trump tweeted on Sunday that were understood to criticize four Democratic congresswomen known as “the squad”: Reps. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts.
All four are U.S citizens, which is required of all members of Congress. Ocasio-Cortez, Tlaib and Pressley were all born in the U.S. Ocasio-Cortez was born the in the Bronx to parents of Puerto Rican descent. Tlaib was born in Detroit to Palestinian parents and, with Omar, became one of the first two Muslim women to ever be elected to Congress in 2018. Pressley is black and was born in Ohio.
All four have been sharply critical of Trump and his administration. On Sunday, Trump suggested in a tweet they were immigrants from countries “whose governments are a complete and total disaster.”
"So interesting to see 'Progressive' Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run," the president wrote.
Democrats and others have been sounding the alarm about the president’s words since shortly after he tweeted them. Many noted the phrase “go back to where you came from” is a taunt some have used to marginalize immigrants throughout the country’s history.
The vote on a resolution condemning Trump’s words – and recognizing immigration as "one of the most important sources of America's greatness,” in the words of President Ronald Reagan -- came after what news reports described as a “tumultuous” few hours of on the House floor. After introducing the resolution, Pelosi was barred from speaking in the chamber after she referred Trump’s words as “racist.”
House rules specifically say members can't say that a president has made a bigoted or racist statement.
The vote was 240-187, with four Republicans and one independent voting with the Democrats in favor of the measure. They included Republican Reps. Will Hurd, of Texas, Susan Brooks of Indiana, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Fred Upton of Michigan, and Rep. Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan.
President Trump continues to defend his tweets amid backlash. The "tweets were NOT Racist," Trump tweeted on Tuesday, adding that he doesn’t “have a racist bone in his body.”
Trump also urged Republicans to vote against the resolution, saying they should not “show weakness' and fall into [Democrats’] trap."