Vincent Sheheen talks about his reasons for wanting the
Confederate flag removed from the Statehouse grounds Monday,
July 6, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. The South Carolina Senate
voted Monday to remove the Confederate flag from a pole on
the Statehouse grounds, though the proposal still needs
approval from the state House and the governor.
— The push to remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of
the South Carolina Statehouse is about to clear its first hurdle.
But even if a
bill to bring down the rebel banner passes the state Senate as
expected Tuesday, it faces a less certain future in the House.
37-3 on Monday to take down the flag and the pole it flies on,
both of which were erected in 2000 as part of a compromise that
involved removing the flag from atop the Statehouse dome. The vote
was well over the two-thirds majority that will be needed Tuesday
to send the bill on to the House.
But while that
means debate would begin Wednesday in the House, it is far from
clear whether a vote will take place the same day — or what the
vote will be. House members appear to be less unified.
behind closed doors Monday and struggled to reach a consensus on
what to do next. Some, including Speaker Jay Lucas, have not said
how they will vote.
One idea being
floated is to keep the pole and put a different flag on it: the
U.S. flag, the South Carolina flag or a flag that may have been
flown by Confederate troops but is not as divisive as the red
banner with the blue cross and white stars.
Saxon, left and Wayne Whitfield, both of Anderson, S.C.,
discuss the Confederate flag on the South Carolina
Statehouse grounds with Brodrick S. Hall of Atlanta, right,
on Monday, July 6, 2015. Lively discussions on the flag took
place on the grounds took place outside the state house
where lawmakers debated whether the flag should be removed
from the downtown Columbia complex.
meanwhile, say both the flag and flagpole must go, House Minority
Leader Todd Rutherford said.
and Gov. Nikki Haley agree. If the bill passes and Haley signs it,
the flag would be lowered for the last time and shipped off to the
state's Confederate Relic Room, not far from where the last
Confederate flag to fly over the Statehouse dome is stored.
Carolina Senate today rose to this historic occasion, with a large
majority of members from both parties coming together in the
spirit of unity and healing that is binding our state back
together and moving us forward in the right direction," Haley
said in a statement.
came at the end of a day of debate in which several white senators
said they had come to understand why their black colleagues felt
the flag no longer represented the valor of Southern soldiers but
the racism that led the South to separate from the United States
more than 150 years ago.
As the senators
spoke, the desk of their slain colleague, state senator and the
Rev. Clementa Pinckney, was still draped in black cloth. Pinckney
and eight other black people were fatally shot June 17 during
Bible study at a historic African-American church in Charleston.
Authorities have charged a man who posed for pictures with the
rebel banner. Police say he was driven by racial hatred.
said the grace shown by the families of the victims willing to
forgive the gunman also changed their minds.
a Monday, June 22, 2015 file photo, South Carolina Gov.
Nikki Haley, center, is applauded during a news conference
in the South Carolina State House, in Columbia, S.C. Haley
said that the Confederate flag should come down from the
grounds of the state capitol, reversing her position on the
divisive symbol amid growing calls for it to be removed.
"We now have
the opportunity, the obligation, to put the exclamation point on
an extraordinary narrative of good and evil, of love and mercy
that will take its place in the history books," said Sen. Tom
Davis, a Republican.
After the vote,
Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Democrat whose suggestion that the flag be
taken down while running for governor last year was called a
"stunt" by Haley, was given a high-five from a fellow
it would happen, but never this fast," Sheheen said.
The House could
pass the Senate bill without changes. If members alter the Senate
bill, senators could either accept the changes or send the bill to
a conference committee to hash out the differences.
rejected three of its own amendments. One would have put a
different Confederate flag on the pole. A second would only fly
the flag on Confederate Memorial Day, and the third would leave
the flag's fate up to a popular vote.
State Sen. Lee
Bright, who suggested the popular vote, said the Confederate flag
has been misused by people like Dylann Roof, who is charged with
murder in the church shootings.
against taking it down in this environment than any other time
just because I believe we're placing the blame of what one
deranged lunatic did on the people that hold their Southern
heritage high," said Bright, a Republican.