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House scraps vote on allowing banner in federal cemeteries

WASHINGTON – The Republican-controlled House scrapped a vote on permitting the Confederate flag at Park Service-run cemeteries on Thursday, a retreat under fire that only escalated a ferocious attack by Democrats complaining the banner celebrates a murderous, racist past.

“What exactly is the tradition of the Confederate battle flag that we’re supporting?” Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., demanded as racial political tensions flared.

“Is it slavery, rape, kidnap, treason, genocide or all of the above?” he asked.

No Republican rose to respond, although some officials privately charged that Democrats had falsely accused GOP lawmakers of racism. They noted the proposal would merely have written Obama administration policy into law.

The proposal would have permitted the limited display of the Confederate flag at Park Service-run cemeteries in states that observe a holiday commemorating the Confederacy, and only at the graves of rebels who died in the Civil War.

In line with a Park Service memorandum from 2010, it would have affected 10 graveyards, including four in Tennessee, three in Virginia and one each in Louisiana, Mississippi and Georgia.

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