Race relations have been central to political debates in recent months, from the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of police officers in New York and Missouri to the recent revelation that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) spoke to a white supremacist group back in 2002.
The additional detail that Scalise also once voted against making Martin Luther King Day a holiday has reopened an old debate.
The King holiday used to be controversial, only passing the House more than ten years after Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) filed the first bill calling for a day to commemorate the slain civil rights icon. The measure eventually passed in 1983. Ninety representatives and 22 senators voted against it.
The debate is now essentially settled. Lawmakers typically spend their Martin Luther King holidays back at home with constituents, attending memorial events and touting the nation’s progress.
There are only six current members of Congress who previously voted against creating a national holiday for King. Another small handful did so at the state level.
Source: The Hill | Ben Kamisar