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South Carolina House votes to remove Confederate flag from statehouse grounds

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July 9, 2015


The Confederate flag flying on South Carolina’s statehouse grounds is set to come down after the House voted 94 to 20 to remove it. The bill, passed early Thursday, now heads to Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk, and she is expected to sign it.

After more than 13 hours of debate — which became increasingly contentious as the night wore on — House Republicans and Democrats agreed not to amend the legislation with a proposal that threatened to make final passage more difficult.

[Jenny Horne: How a descendant of the president of the Confederacy helped vanquish his flag]

Just before 1:00 a.m., the lawmakers approved the legislation 93 to 27 in a critical second-reading vote. Minutes later, the bill easily cleared the two-thirds threshold needed for it to officially pass the chamber, a hurdle the state Senate cleared earlier this week.

[6 key moments from the South Carolina Senate’s strikingly blunt Confederate flag debate]

“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 following Thursday’s early morning vote. “I’m grateful for their service and their compassion. 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.”

The push to remove the Confederate flag began anew following last month’s shooting of nine worshipers — including the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, a state senator — at a historically black church in downtown Charleston. A day after the shooting, the U.S. flag atop the state’s capitol was lowered to half-staff while the Confederate flag on the statehouse grounds remained flying high.

Photos then emerged of the now-indicted shooter, an avowed white supremacist, posing with the emblem. “The alleged killer of the Charleston nine used that flag as a symbol of hatred and bigotry and racism,” Democratic Sen. Joel Lourie said on Monday.

Advocates for the flag’s removal say it represents a racist legacy and a dark chapter in the nation’s history, while defenders insist it symbolizes Southern heritage and honors fallen soldiers.

[How people convince themselves the flag represents freedom, not slavery]

The Senate approved a similar measure 36 to 3 on Tuesday. The final bill will head to Haley’s desk this week, and the flag can come down 24 hours after she signs the legislation.