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Democrats immediately object when House Republican proposes members recite Pledge of Allegiance before committee meeting

Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Fireworks erupted at a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday after a Republican member proposed a resolution that members say the Pledge of Allegiance before meeting.

But the seemingly innocuous resolution caused a long, heated debate when Democratic members immediately objected.

What happened?

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) proposed an amendment to the committee's rules that would require each member to recite the Pledge of Allegiance before conducting committee business.

"On the Judiciary Committee, we are charged with vindicating the constitutional rights of our fellow Americans, and our Pledge of Allegiance is a national symbol of pride and unity," he explained. "My amendment gives the committee the opportunity to begin each of its meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance."

But Rep. Jerry Nadler, the top Democrat on the committee, immediately opposed it.

"I would oppose it simply on the grounds that, as members know, we pledge allegiance every day on the floor. And I don't know why we should pledge allegiance twice in the same day to show how patriotic we are," he said. "I don't think this is the most important amendment in the world."

Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.) swiftly demonstrated why Nadler's objection was, perhaps, not justified.

"I've not seen Mr. Nadler on the floor when the pledge is done, and most members are not present there," Johnson said. "So it's not accurate to say we do the pledge every day or participate in the pledge every day. It may be offered, but you’re not there for it."

JUST IN: Matt Gaetz Amendment Causes Massive Debate In House Judiciary Committee Hearingwww.youtube.com

From there, the civility of the meeting quickly went downhill. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) countered with his own amendment barring "insurrectionists" from leading the Pledge of Allegiance. Gaetz responded that Democrats also have a history of not supporting the outcome of presidential elections or denying their legitimacy.

Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.) later undercut Cicilline's argument completely, noting that "insurrection" is a crime and would disqualify those convicted of it from serving in the House. Cicilline was thus forced to admit that no one on the committee was guilty of "insurrection."

At one point, Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-N.J.) took the opportunity to point out what he believed was the absurdity of the debate.

"I'm almost speechless," he said. "I know it's a real backbreaker. ... We can [go] that little extra mile, stand up, put our hand on our chest, say what we believe, and reaffirm this America that we love. Come on. This can't be real. I can't believe we're having this debate."

What was the result?

Ultimately, Cicilline's amendment was blocked by a vote of 24-13, NBC News reported.

Gaetz's, on the other hand, was unanimously approved by a vote of 39-0.

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