Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 4 opposed an amendment to the committee rules that would require each meeting to start with the recital of the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It’s unnecessary,” Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said. “The House begins every day with the Pledge of Allegiance. We’re covered by that. There is no necessity to say the Pledge of Allegiance twice during the same day. It’s not been our practice to do so.”
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) suggested the amendment. The Republicans spoke in favor of the proposal, while the Democrats argued it is unnecessary because the pledge is already recited each morning on the House floor.
“I just think it would be nice, in the spirit of national unity and national pride, which I know we all aspire to do to a greater extent, that at the beginning of each meeting, the chair or one of the designees of the chair would have the opportunity to lead us in the pledge of allegiance,” Gaetz said.
“We’re all aware that in these times, it’s important for the country to see members of Congress working together on some things and while I know that we can deal with divisive issues in the committee, it would be my hope that we can start every committee meeting with a great, unifying, patriotic moment.”
The House Judiciary GOP Twitter account shared a video of the exchange, adding “Why don’t Democrats want to say the Pledge?”
Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) supported Gaetz, arguing that reciting the pledge in the committee won’t duplicate the pledge in the House because the committee’s business is separate and different.
“I think it’s a simple one. I think it’s important symbolism right now. We all know and it’s been discussed today already that our nation is divided. Many of us talk frankly about this individually. We’re more divided now arguably than we have been since the era of the Civil War and there are a few things left in our culture, in our society that unite us. The Pledge of Allegiance is one of those things,” Johnson said.
“It’s been a part of our tradition in this country since 1892. It’s an important institution that we have,” Johnson added. “It’s one of those things that verbalizes, in just 15 seconds, it won’t take a lot of our time, but it verbalizes the things that unify us, the principles that make us the great flourishing Republic that we are.”
Rep. Mary Scanlon (D-Pa.) opposed the amendment and said that as an exercise of unity, the Judiciary Committee could attend the recital of the pledge on the House floor. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) also said that reciting the pledge again in the committee would be duplicative.
“I feel the weight of the flag no matter what committee I happen to be in,” Lee said.
Johnson countered that due to the lawmakers’ busy schedules, the lawmakers are rarely all on the floor when the pledge is recited.
Committee Ranking Member Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), Rep. Ken Buck (R-Colo.), and Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) also backed the amendment, saying it would send a message of unity to the nation.
“That would be great but we all know the reality is that won’t happen. So because of that, why not do it here? I just don’t understand the opposition to it. It would be a great tradition and we might inspire other committees to do the same,” Johnson said.