*According to the White House Press Secretary, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, President Donald Trump will “absolutely” sign a bill passed by the House and Senate that urges him to speak out against all forms of racism and prejudice.
It has been the question on everyone’s mind ever since word got around that the Congress had unanimously passed a joint resolution, billed by Washington insiders as the “Charlottesville Resolution” through to the president’s office. In the past, Trump has been notoriously wishy-washy when it came to condemning clear acts of racial violence, most notably in a speech following the death of Heather Heyer, where he ascribed blame for the violence at Charlottesville to “many sides.” The President went on to describe many members of the racist mob as being “very fine people”.
This bill provides the President no such leeway, stating in clear terms that it
“Urges the President and his administration to speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and white supremacy…”
In addition, the resolution clearly names several well-known white supremacist organizations as hate groups, including the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis as well as other white nationalists. The bill also urges the Department of Homeland Security and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to incidents, such as those which claimed the life of Heather Heyer, as acts of domestic terrorism.
While these sorts of declarations are simply treated as statements of intent on behalf of the Congress, requiring no input from the President himself; this particular bill was submitted as a joint resolution which will require Trump’s signature within 10 days of being passed to his office.
While Trump ponders over whether he can commit to such a controversial bill, he also has a meeting with Republican Senator Tim Scott to mull over. The Senator represents the only black member of the Republican Senate, and earlier this year he had responded to President Trump’s weak statement following Charlottesville by saying Trump’s moral authority had been compromised.
In a 30-minute long session with the President held at the Oval Office, the Senator discussed amongst other issues; bringing value to the White House staff through increased diversification and, “what to do next”, after the controversial remarks made following Charlottesville.
For his part, Scott thinks that Trump, “obviously reflected” on the conversation the two had. Trump is described as having listened intently to the Scott’s perspective, and was heard saying “I understand” several times throughout the talk. We’ll see how much of it rubbed off on him when and if Trump decides to sign this new bill.