Louisiana’s congressional delegation split on a resolution to remove Confederate flags from flagpoles at federal veterans cemeteries.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, and U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, were the only two of the six-member delegation to vote in favor of the effort, which passed the U.S. House in a 265-159 vote on an amendment to a larger military construction bill. The measure has not gone through the Senate yet.
Republican Congressmen Charles Boustany, of Lafayette; John Fleming, of Minden; Ralph Abraham, of Alto; and Garret Graves, of Baton Rouge; all voted against the Confederate flag removal.
Boustany and Fleming are both running for U.S. Senate this year.
There are four federal veterans cemeteries in Louisiana: Alexandria National Cemetery in Pineville; Baton Rouge National Cemetery; Louisiana National Cemetery in Zachary; and Port Hudson National Cemetery in Zachary, which is for cremated remains of veterans.
The Associated Press reports that the resolution — the latest in a national backlash to the display of Confederate symbols — would block descendants and others seeking to commemorate veterans of the Confederate States of America from flying the Confederate battle flag over mass graves on the two days a year that flag displays are permitted.
The amendment is largely symbolic and applies only to instances in which Confederate flags are flown on flagpoles over mass graves. It would not ban the display of small Confederate flags placed at individual graves. Such displays are generally permitted on Memorial Day and Confederate Memorial Day in the states that observe it.
Scalise’s vote in favor of the ban was notable as one of the top Republican leaders of the U.S. House.
Scalise, who has served in Congress since 2008, came under fire in 2014 when it was uncovered that he spoke to a white nationalist group in 2002 while serving in the state Legislature.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow Elizabeth Crisp on Twitter,@elizabethcrisp. For more coverage of Louisiana state government and politics, follow our Politics Blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/ politicsblog.