Rep. Cori Bush Says Republicans Are Using Black Speaker Candidate As 'Prop'

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Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) blasted Republicans on Wednesday for claiming to advance racial equality amid their infighting in the House of Representatives, saying they were using her fellow Black lawmaker Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) as “a prop.”

Conservative members who refuse to back Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as the new speaker of the House rallied around Donalds on Wednesday, giving him 20 votes for the speakership in the fourth and fifth rounds of voting. While nominating Donalds, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) referenced civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr. and said that Republicans “do not seek to judge people by the color of their skin, but rather the content of their character.”

The nomination meant that for the first time in history, both major parties nominated a Black candidate to run the House. Democrats backed Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), who leads their caucus.

But Bush noted on Twitter that GOP policies offer little else to combat racism and structural inequities. “Despite being Black, [Donalds] supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy,” the Missouri Democrat argued.

“His name being in the mix is not progress—it’s pathetic,” she added.

FWIW, @ByronDonalds is not a historic candidate for Speaker. He is a prop. Despite being Black, he supports a policy agenda intent on upholding and perpetuating white supremacy.

His name being in the mix is not progress—it’s pathetic.

— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) January 4, 2023

Donalds is a hardcore supporter of Donald Trump, the former president who questioned the citizenship of the country’s first Black president, pledged to ban Muslims from entering American borders, referred to COVID-19 as “kung flu,” cast Mexican immigrants as rapists and frequently spurred on white nationalists.

Donalds supported Trump’s false claim that the 2020 presidential election was illegitimate, voting to reject state-certified results from Arizona and Pennsylvania. He is close with controversial Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and has opposed gun control and the investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, riot.

Despite views that are out of step with most Black voters, Donalds has argued that he can help Republicans end their decadeslong failure to attract major Black support. “Black voters are more open to hearing both sides of the political argument for the first time in a long time,” he told Politico last year. “And if Republicans are there to provide a policy option to be solutions-focused, then I think you’ll see a lot more Black voters become Republican voters.”

Though it is unclear who Republicans will ultimately settle on for speaker, it is extremely unlikely that their choice will be Donalds, who has only served one term in Congress. Far-right figures are also pushing for Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and other more prominent alternatives.

Donalds’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Bush’s criticism.

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