South Carolina House votes to remove Confederate flag from statehouse grounds

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COLUMBIA, South Carolina — The Confederate battle flag will likely take its last flaps in the wind at South Carolina’s statehouse soon.

The House of Representatives voted 94-20 early Thursday to remove it.

The Senate has already voted for the flag’s removal from statehouse grounds. And Gov. Nikki Haley has already said she would sign it into law.

“Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity,” Haley said in a statement.

“It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state.”

Soon after nine African-American worshipers were shot dead in a Charleston church last month by racially motivated gunman Dylann Roof, Haley called on lawmakers to vote for its removal.

But the flag mounted a tenacious last stand on Wednesday in South Carolina with the help of a handful of House lawmakers. They threw down proposed amendments to the bill that led debate to drag on more than 12 hours.

Tearful outburst

That was too much for a legislator who unleashed a tearful admonition at her colleagues. Rep. Jenny Horne added herself to a long list of white Republicans crying for the flag to come down immediately.

She had been to the funerals of the nine worshipers shot dead inside the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church by racially motivated gunman Dylann Roof. And she was still bereft.

“I cannot believe that we do not have the heart in this body.”

She paused to swallow her sobs and raised her voice to shout, “to do something meaningful, such as take a symbol of hate off these grounds.”

She thrust her finger at the floor with every word of her demand.

Horne had grown weary of one new proposed amendment after the next to the clean bill handed to the House by the Senate. It had seemed simple enough — once the House signed off, it would go to Gov. Nikki Haley.

Then down would come the flag, a seemingly done deal.

Dozens of amendments

But the flag had supporters in the House chambers, and they began proposing amendments to the bill when debate started around noon.

Debate dragged on into early Thursday, as legislators voted one by one to knock down the some 27 proposed amendments. Each one put them further away from a vote on the bill itself.

But little by little, the amendment proposals gave out, and after 1:00 a.m. Thursday legislators finally were able to vote on the bill — and passed it.

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