Democrat Wants Vote to Nix Mississippi State Flag at U.S. Capitol (Updated)

As the only black Democratic member of the Mississippi delegation, Thompson is getting ready to force a House floor vote on the issue as early as this week. The question: Should Congress remove the Mississippi flag from its place among the 49 other state flags that line the walls of the tunnel connecting the Capitol to the Rayburn House Office Building?

The flag’s design — which contains the “Southern Cross” of the Confederacy in the upper-left corner — was the subject of debate long before the June 17 massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Thompson, who has been in Congress for 11 terms, has never displayed the state flag outside his congressional office. He’s fought against the design for decades, supporting unsuccessful state-level votes to redesign it and fruitless lawsuits to force Mississippi to take action.

Though members have been rapidly changing their minds on this matter over an emotional few days, Thompson’s planned privileged resolution faces an uphill climb.

Privileged resolutions offered by the minority almost always fail, but House rules dictate the chamber has to take the proposal up within a certain number of legislative days after filing. Republican leaders could just make a motion to table, or kill, the measure — the typical reaction when a member of the minority party tries to insert new legislative business into the schedule out of turn — but Thompson can expect overwhelming support from Democrats during an inevitable roll call vote.

That could force Republicans into a tricky political calculus: Vote to keep Mississippi’s flag flying in the hallway, or vote it out in a blow to states’ rights.

Roll Call