WASHINGTON — House Republicans have introduced a disapproval resolution condemning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ripping up her copy of President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech.
A vote related to the resolution is expected in the House on Thursday, according to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s office, though the measure — a privileged resolution under the House rules — is not expected to pass. Procedurally, the vote will be on whether to table the resolution, rather than on the resolution itself.
The resolution comes after Pelosi, in a dramatic move captured on camera, tore her copy of the President’s speech after he concluded the annual address to Congress. Earlier in the night, the President appeared to snub the House speaker by ignoring her attempt at a handshake.
The disapproval resolution, introduced by Texas Rep. Kay Granger, calls Pelosi’s conduct at the State of the Union “a breach of decorum” that “degraded the proceedings of the joint session.”
“Speaker Pelosi’s actions last night were appalling and shameful. Regardless of her personal feelings, she had a responsibility to conduct herself with civility as the presiding officer representing the House of Representatives. She is not the Speaker of the Democrats, but of the People’s House,” Granger said Wednesday.
Pelosi’s spokesman, Drew Hammill, responded in a statement: “It is sad to see a senior Member, respected on both sides of the aisle, have to kneel at the altar of Trump in order to win her primary,” he said. “That’s all this is about.” Granger is the top Republican on the House appropriations committee.
Later Wednesday, Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who’s a staunch Trump supporter and defender, said on Twitter that he was filing an ethics complaint against Pelosi. He attached a letter addressed to Reps. Ted Deutch, a Florida Democrat who’s the chairman of the House Ethics Committee, and Kenny Marchant of Texas, the committee’s top Republican.
“BREAKING: I’m filing an ethics complaint against @SpeakerPelosi for destroying @realDonaldTrump’s State of the Union speech,” he tweeted. “Her conduct was beneath the dignity of the House, and a potential violation of law (18 USC 2071),” a measure concerning the destruction of government records.
Legal experts surveyed by Politifact say Pelosi’s shredding of the speech did not violate any records-keeping law.
Hammill panned Gaetz’s effort as “a frivolous stunt from a Congressman desperate to get back in the President’s good graces after he voted with Democrats and against the President on Iran.”
In the Democrats’ closed-door caucus meeting on Wednesday, Pelosi slammed Trump’s address, explaining why she ripped it up afterward, according to multiple sources in the room. The California Democrat was fired up in the meeting, and she told her members that the speech was “a disgrace” for having so many falsehoods in it.
“He shredded the truth, so I shredded his speech,” Pelosi said, according to one person in the room. Other Democratic leaders defended the move publicly on Wednesday; “As far as I’m concerned, a shredder wasn’t available, and so she did what she needed to do,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries.
The frosty exchanges between Pelosi and Trump Tuesday night marked unmistakable signs of the deteriorating relationship between the two leaders, who haven’t spoken in months.
Pelosi confirmed to CNN before Trump’s speech Tuesday that she hadn’t spoken to the President since a meeting on Syria policy in October.
Hoyer told reporters Wednesday that the tension on display at the State of the Union reveals an animosity that Democrats haven’t felt with prior Republican presidents — which he blamed on Trump.
“The author of animosity is Donald J. Trump. The author of confrontation is Donald J. Trump. The author of division is Donald J. Trump,” Hoyer said. “There’s a lot of personal animosity the President has generated.”
But he still expressed hope for House Democrats and the White House to work together on issues like infrastructure and prescription drug pricing between now and Election Day.
“This is not about personal feelings. It’s about the American people,” Hoyer told reporters at his weekly pen and pad briefing.