Congress dome file

The Capitol Dome of the Capitol Building at sunrise, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) ORG XMIT: WX101

WASHINGTON — Republican members of Louisiana's Congressional delegation have stopped short of castigating President Donald Trump over his controversial remarks aimed at four U.S. House Democrats, and in some cases are defiantly defending his comments.

U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham, an Alto Republican who is running for governor, was among the first members to vigorously defend Trump on Monday.

"There’s no question that the members of Congress that (Trump) called out have absolutely said anti-American and anti-Semitic things," Abraham wrote on his official Twitter feed. "I’ll pay for their tickets out of this country if they just tell me where they’d rather be."

U.S. House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Jefferson Republican who has been a close ally of the president, rejected complaints about Trump's tweets as politically-motivated.

“You’re seeing what they are bringing to the floor — one more attempt to personally attack president Trump instead of focusing on things that will get this economy going," he said Tuesday during the House GOP's regular press briefing, where Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Republican leadership plans to vote against the resolution.

The U.S. House spent Tuesday afternoon fighting over whether to pass a non-binding resolution condemning Trump's tweets about the four female members of Congress.

Trump's tweets suggested freshmen U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, all women of color, weren't born in America and that they should "go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came." Omar, a Somali refugee, is the only member of the self-described "Squad" who wasn't born in the United States.

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, said he disagrees with the president's message, but also condemned the lawmakers he attacked.

"I find it rich that people who make anti-Semitic comments are accusing others of being racist," he said, alluding to the backlash that Omar, of Minnesota, has faced from her own party about comments she's made about Israel.

U.S. Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, hadn't read the tweets, his spokesman Kevin Roig said, but believes that Republicans and Democrats should face equal treatment when they say offensive things.

"As you well know, Garret appreciates our country's diversity and opposes any sort of hate-speech expressed from Republicans or Democrats," Roig said.

U.S. Sen. John Kennedy, R-Madisonville, told reporters that the president had used a "poor choice of words."

"I don’t know why the president had to say anything at all," Kennedy said. "When you argue with a fool it just proves they’re two."

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-Port Barre, said he was focused on more pressing issues that are important to his district, which was recently hit with flooding linked to Tropical Storm Barry.

“These congresswomen have a history of anti-American and anti-Semitic remarks," Higgins said. "They’re socialists who work harder for illegal immigrants than the American citizens that they are supposed to represent."

He added, "The media has conveniently ignored this in a continued effort to demonize our president, who is at heart, a good man and solid patriot."

Rep. Mike Johnson's office didn't respond to requests for comment.

U.S. Rep. Cedric Richmond, a New Orleans Democrat who is the only Democratic member of the Louisiana delegation, retweeted a message from The Black Caucus condemning the president's remarks on Monday.

"These American citizens are exactly where they belong — here in the United States fighting to hold this corrupt, inhumane and inept administration accountable on behalf of the majority of the people who did not vote for this President and do not support his disastrous policies," the tweet read.

Email Elizabeth Crisp at ecrisp@theadvocate.com and follow on Twitter, @elizabethcrisp.