WASHINGTON — Congress has backed a resolution condemning white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other hate groups following a white-nationalist rally in Virginia that descended into deadly violence.
The House approved the measure by voice vote Tuesday, one day after the Senate also cleared it by voice vote with little fanfare. The resolution now goes to President Donald Trump, who has been criticized for his response following the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Its sponsors — Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both Democrats of Virginia, and Republican Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Johnny Isakson of Georgia —used a mechanism that mandates the president’s signature on the resolution. Most nonbinding resolutions simply require majority votes, as they stop short of being law, and express the sense of a body. This would commit Trump to the resolution’s sentiments.
The resolution “rejects white nationalism, white supremacy and neo-Nazism as hateful expressions of intolerance that are contradictory to the values that define the people of the United States.”
It also urges the president and his administration “to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and white supremacy, and use all resources available to the president and the president’s Cabinet to address the growing prevalence of those hate groups in the United States.”
Trump asserted there were good people on “both sides” of the Charlottesville rally and bemoaned rising efforts to remove Confederate monuments as an attack on America’s “history and culture,” drawing widespread condemnation.
The resolution assiduously avoids blaming any other parties for the deadly violence. An alleged white supremacist rammed his car into a group of counterprotesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, who is named and honored in the resolution.
The resolution describes Heyer’s death as a “domestic terrorist attack” and acknowledges two Virginia state troopers who died in a helicopter crash while monitoring the protests.
The resolution also calls on the attorney general and the Department of Homeland Security to “investigate thoroughly all acts of violence, intimidation and domestic terrorism by white supremacists.” Trump recently shut down funding for just such a Homeland Security task force.
The resolution was backed in the House by Virginia Reps. Tom Garrett and Gerry Connolly, with support from the entire Virginia House delegation.
The joint resolution is supported by a range of civil rights groups, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.