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SC House Rejects Compromise Flag Amendments; Floor Debate Begins

The South Carolina State House at sunset.

South Carolina House debate began late Wednesday on legislation that would remove the Confederate flag from the Capitol grounds. First, lawmakers rejected a series of compromise amendments. WFAE's Tom Bullock has this update with NPR's Kelly McEvers during All Things Considered:

And here's an update Tom provided earlier with WFAE's Duncan McFadyen, followed by a transcript of their conversation.

WFAE's Tom Bullock speaks to Duncan McFadyen during 2:04 p.m. newscast.

Duncan: Tom, what’s happened so far?

Tom: We were told the bill the South Carolina Senate passed yesterday would see at least 26 proposed amendments in the House. At least 32 were actually filed. But in a surprise move, most of those amendments were withdrawn. Still, the House will consider seven amendments. Most have come from Republican Representative Michael Pitts.

"I’m willing to remove that flag from the pole at some point, but at some point I will ask for something in return because I believe in balancing the scales, I believe in fairness.                                                                                                                              - Rep. Michael Pitts

Duncan: So what has Representative Pitts asked for?

Tom: In the four amendments he’s introduced so far, he asked the flag be removed and replaced with a monument to a Cherokee leader who fought alongside the confederates. That failed.

He then asked for the flag pole to be removed and the Confederate battle flag which flies there now to be encased in a display box at the same site. The House also said no to that.

Pitts also wanted to amend the bill to have the flag replaced with a bronze cast of a Confederate infrantry banner, or plant it with yellow jasmine. So far no amendments have passed/

Duncan: So any idea when the debate on the bill (to remove the flag) itself will begin?

Tom: Not yet (the House went into recess at about 2 p.m.), though very likely sometime today. And the House will need to vote on the measure twice, on two separate days to pass it. Then it would need the signature of the governor to become law - which means the flag could come down late Thursday or sometime Friday.