Early Thursday morning, the South Carolina House of Representative voted 90-24 in favor of removing the Confederate flag from Capitol grounds. The state Senate already voted overwhelmingly in favor of taking down the flag, and with the House on board, the legislation just needs approval from Governor Nikki Haley to go through.
Haley, who led the initial push to take down the flag in the wake of last month's racially-motivated massacre at Charleston's Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, plans to sign the bill at a ceremony Thursday afternoon. The bill requires that it be taken down within 24 hours of her signature.
"Today, as the Senate did before them, the House of Representatives has served the State of South Carolina and her people with great dignity," Haley wrote in a statement on Facebook this morning. "It is a new day in South Carolina, a day we can all be proud of, a day that truly brings us all together as we continue to heal, as one people and one state."
Although a majority of House members supported taking down the flag, the legislation was subject to a prolonged debate this week, with defenders of the flag proposing dozens of amendments that would have stalled passage of the bill and kept the flag flying past Friday.
Republican Representative Mike Pitts led the charge, filing more than 20 amendments, including one that called for flying the American flag upside down. "I grew up with that flag, the current flag, being almost a symbol of reverence, because of my family's service in that war," Pitts told NBC News. "It was not a racial issue."
In response, Representative Jenny Horne, who is also a Republican, delivered an emotional appeal to take down the flag, pleading with her fellow lawmakers to end their stalling tactics and pass a clean bill.
"For the widow of Sen. (Clementa) Pinckney and his two young daughters, that would be adding insult to injury, and I will not be a part of it," Horne said. "If we amend this bill, we are telling the people of Charleston, we don't care about you."
Once removed from its pole, the flag, which has flown on South Carolina's state house grounds since 1962, will be moved to the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, along with several state legislators, probably.
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