During the debate, Republicans argued that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) comments calling Trump a racist violated the chamber’s rules of decorum. But Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), presiding as speaker pro tempore, had heard enough from both sides.
“We don’t ever, ever, want to pass up, it seems, an opportunity to escalate. And that’s what this is,” Cleaver said. “We want to just fight. I abandon the chair.”
As Cleaver spoke, he raised the gavel, then dropped it in disgust before walking off.
Cleaver, co-chair of the House Civility Caucus, later released a statement saying he’d been “increasingly frustrated with the childish rancor of our public discourse,” adding:
“Our inability to conduct ourselves in a civil and respectable fashion has paralyzed the most powerful government in the history of the world, and for what? A 10-second soundbite on prime time news and a few thousand Twitter followers? If this is what our government has come to, then we are in serious trouble as a nation.”
Cleaver urged Democrats and Republicans to work together to solve the challenges facing the country.
“I call on all of my colleagues and all of America to listen more and talk less, to show compassion for those who are in pain, and to resist the temptation to fight when others wish to escalate,” he said.