Rep. Foxx: "We Were The People Who Passed The Civil Rights Bills"

November 19, 2009 1:10 pm ET — Matt Finkelstein

Today, while members of the House were debating a mundane amendment to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) caused a stir by introducing civil rights into the discussion.    

Foxx, it seems, was offended that Republicans aren't recognized as stewards of the environment, and she accused Democrats of engaging in "revisionist history" -- just like they do with civil rights:

FOXX: And actually the GOP has been the leader in starting good environmental programs in this country, just as we were the people who passed the civil rights bills back in the sixties without very much help from our colleagues across the aisle.  They love to engage in revisionist history.

Understandably, Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-CA) was not happy with Foxx's comments. "It was the Kennedy and Johnson administration where we passed that Great Society legislation," he said. "It was over the objections of people like Jesse Helms from the gentlewoman's state that we passed that civil rights legislation." Watch it:

As a factual matter, Foxx has no clue what she's talking about.  Republicans did not pass civil rights legislation "without very much help" from Democrats, who controlled Congress and the White House at the time.  While a majority of both parties voted for the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the real split was along geographic lines.  It was lawmakers from the South who overwhelmingly opposed the bill, which is probably something that a Republican from North Carolina should know. 

Moreover, the idea that Foxx would champion civil rights is downright absurd.  This is a congresswoman who recently railed against hate crimes legislation by announcing -- with his mother in the room -- that Matthew Shepard's murder was a "hoax." During another recent floor speech, Foxx saw fit to mention, for no apparent reason, a conservative commentator's race

For what it's worth, Foxx responded to Cardoza by noting that Jesse Helms wasn't elected to the Senate until 1972.  However, that doesn't change the fact that he called the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "the single most dangerous piece of legislation ever introduced in the Congress."


Update: Think Progress has more