Republican presidential politics made a surprising and unexpected appearance in the House Chamber Thursday, when a Democratic congressman sought to force a vote on a resolution condemning Texas Gov. Rick Perry for having a rock on his hunting ranch that contained a racial epithet.
The House voted to set aside a privileged resolution aimed at condemning the stone on Perry's ranch offered earlier in the day by an impassioned Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL).
Earlier in the day, Jackson read his resolution on the floor. It called on the House to:
“Condemn Texas Governor Rick Perry for using a secluded West Texas hunting camp as a place to host lawmakers, friends and supporters on hunting trips at a place known by the name painted in block letters across a large, flat rock standing upright at its gated entrance called 'N*****head.'"
The resolution came in reaction to a Washington Post report on Sunday that a hunting ranch leased by Perry and his family had, for some time, contained a stone displaying the racially-charged name of the grounds. Perry's campaign has insisted in response that the word on the stone had been painted over in the early 1980s.
While most resolutions like Jackson's are filed away to be dealt with at a later date, Jackson Jr. returned to the House floor around 1:45 p.m. to demand that his resolution be given a vote. The House chair, which is controlled by the ruling GOP, sought to table the resolution, which, in effect, would kill it and therefore not force members to have to take a vote.
In a stern a serious voice, Jackson Jr. refused to recant saying, “Mr. Speaker, N***** is offensive. 'N*****head' is offensive. And for a governor of one of the great states of our nation to hunt at 'N*****head' camp, it's offensive, and I think that I'm expressing the moral outrage of all Americans.”
Jackson them demanded a recorded vote on Republicans' move to table -- or set aside -- his measure; he sought, by doing that, to put fellow lawmakers on the record with a vote on the resolution.
The House voted to defeat Jackson's resolution, 231-173, in a largely strict party-lines vote. Just one Democrat, Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, sided with Republicans in voting against bringing the measure to the floor.
A Democratic aide told NBC News that Jackson Jr., a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, spoke for many of the chamber’s Democratic members who had taken great offense that Perry allowed an insensitive word to appear on his property.