Angering members of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus Thursday, the Republican-controlled House rejected a resolution honoring President Barack Obama as some with "unimpeachable reputation for integrity, vision and passion."
The symbolic proposal would have made Obama an honorary member of the body, a first such action in the United States.
"I've never seen this type of action taken on the floor of the House, said state Rep. Calvin Smyre, a Columbus Democrat and 35-year veteran of the Legislature who is president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. "I'm appalled, I'm disappointed, I'm shocked. The fact of the matter is there's a dark cloud over Georgia."
But House Republicans say that Democrats left them no choice because they were not open to changing the resolution’s questionable language.
State Rep. Austin Scott, the lead opponent against the resolution who demanded a compromise on the language, said he was against the part that said, "no one could be more worthy of special honor and recognition by the members of this body and the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus than this extraordinary leader."
Said Scott, who is running for governor: "Many of the policies that this president believes in are contrary to our beliefs as Republicans, and as a Republican, I don't want to be on record referring to this president as being 'a man of unimpeachable reputation for integrity.'"
The simple solution, he said, would have been for Democrats merely to strike the phrase, "by the members of this body" and he would have backed down from his challenge.
However, state Sen. Emanuel Jones, who heads the Black Caucus, said the language in the resolution is standard and that it has appeared in numerous other resolutions approved by the Legislature.
"We really thought this would be a moment that we could celebrate, a time in the great history of this nation when the first African-American was elected president," said Jones, who was flanked by two dozen black lawmakers from the House and Senate.
"Yet we find ourselves defending ourselves in the state of Georgia again."