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Democrats Block McCarthy Resolution To Censure Maxine Waters Over Protest Comments

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, here during a news conference Thursday, brought a motion to censure Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., over comments she made at a protest last weekend.
Alex Wong
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House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, here during a news conference Thursday, brought a motion to censure Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., over comments she made at a protest last weekend.

Updated April 20, 2021 at 5:26 PM ET

By a vote of 216-210, House Democrats defeated a resolution Tuesday brought by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to censure Rep. Maxine Waters over comments that protesters should "get more confrontational" if former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin were to be acquitted in his trial over the killing of George Floyd.

The party-line vote came ahead of the jury determining Chauvin is guilty on all counts.

Waters was in Brooklyn Center, Minn., over the weekend at a protest over the killing of another Black man at the hands of police: 20-year-old Daunte Wright.

"We've got to stay on the street and we've got to get more active. We've got to get more confrontational. We've got to make sure that they know we mean business," Waters, a California Democrat, saidwhen asked what the public should do if Chauvin isn't found guilty.

Many Republicans, including McCarthy, swiftly condemned Waters' comments, claiming she was inciting violence. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended Waters, telling reporters Monday that the congresswoman has nothing for which to apologize.

"Maxine talked about confrontation in the manner of the civil rights movement," she said.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., spoke on the House floor in defense of Waters ahead of the resolution's introduction, calling it a "gotcha partisan vote."

"I urge all of my colleagues to pick up their dictionary, turn to the 'Cs', and look up 'confront.' Confront is to face the facts. Confront is to face the truth. Confront is to face the challenges that we have. And that is what Ms. Waters urged," Hoyer said. "Confront is not violence."

He added: "[Her] remarks reflect the very profound anger, sense of hopelessness that she and so many others, myself included, feel when we see African Americans being killed during encounters with our law enforcement, and their families not seeing justice."

Chauvin's defense team tried to use Waters' comments asgrounds for a mistrial, but Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion, reasoning her rhetoric couldn't prejudice the jury. However, he added: "I'll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned."

Waters defended her comments Monday, saying Republicans were twisting her words.

"I am nonviolent," she told The Grio. "I talk about confronting the justice system, confronting the policing that's going on. I'm talking about speaking up."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Barbara Sprunt is a producer on NPR's Washington desk, where she reports and produces breaking news and feature political content. She formerly produced the NPR Politics Podcast and got her start in radio at as an intern on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered and Tell Me More with Michel Martin. She is an alumnus of the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship at the National Press Foundation. She is a graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., and a Pennsylvania native.

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