Rep. Crane says he misspoke in saying "colored people" on House floor
Arizona Republican Rep. Eli Crane said he "misspoke" after he used the racially charged term "colored people" on the House floor and drew swift rebuke from Democratic lawmakers and the Congressional Black Caucus.
"In a heated floor debate on my amendment that would prohibit discrimination on the color of one's skin in the Armed Forces, I misspoke. Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal," Crane said in a statement.
The freshman Republican used the term Thursday evening as members were debating one of his proposed amendments to the annual defense budget and policy bill. His amendment would prohibit the Pentagon from requiring participation in training or support for "certain race-based concepts" in the hiring, promotion or retention of individuals.
Crane was responding to remarks made by Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty when he said, "My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not colored people or Black people or anybody can serve, okay? It has nothing to do with color of your skin... any of that stuff."
That quickly prompted Beatty, who is Black and previously served as the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, to ask to strike his words from the congressional record. "I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words of referring to me or any of my colleagues as 'colored people,'" she said.
Crane at first tried to amend his comments to "people of color" before Beatty again stepped in and said she wanted his words stricken. When no one in the chamber objected, the chair ordered it stricken by unanimous consent.
Beatty wrote about the exchange on Twitter: "I am still in utter and disbelief that a Republican uttered the words 'colored people' in reference to African-American service members who sacrifice their lives for our freedom... I will not tolerate such racist and repugnant words in the House Chamber or anywhere in the Congress. That's why I asked that those words be stricken from the record, which was done so by unanimous consent."
The Congressional Black Caucus also tweeted the floor video and said, "This is a shameful moment on the House floor."
"Rep. Eli Crane referring to Black service members who risk their lives for our country as 'colored people' is unconscionable," the caucus tweeted. "The GOP fights against diversity, equity and inclusion training and prove everyday why it's necessary."
The House added Crane's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill late Thursday, on a 214-210 vote. The House narrowly passed the defense policy bill on Friday, but the Senate is not expected to take up the House version.