Arizona Republican Rep. Eli Crane Faces Backlash for Offensive Reference to ‘Colored People’ on House Floor

Arizona Republican Rep. Eli Crane faced backlash after using the racially charged term “colored people” on the House floor during a heated debate over his proposed amendments to the annual defense budget and policy bill. Crane later released a statement claiming that he had “misspoke.” Democratic lawmakers, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus, swiftly rebuked Crane for his choice of words.

Crane’s amendment aimed to prohibit the Pentagon from requiring participation in training or support for “certain race-based concepts” in the hiring, promotion, or retention of individuals in the Armed Forces. As the debate unfolded, Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty, who is Black and a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, expressed her objection to Crane’s remarks and requested to strike the words “colored people” from the congressional record.

Initially, Crane attempted to amend his comments to “people of color,” but Beatty insisted on having his original words stricken. The chair, with unanimous consent, ordered the removal of the offensive term from the record. Beatty took to Twitter to express her disbelief over Crane’s words, emphasizing her commitment to combating racism and intolerance in Congress.

In an interview with CBS News, Beatty asserted that she did not accept Crane’s explanation of “misspeaking.” She firmly believed that Crane had intentionally uttered the words, highlighting the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in legislation to promote diversity of thought and eradicate bias.

The Congressional Black Caucus called upon Crane to apologize to Beatty and service members affected by his comments. They also suggested that Crane seek guidance from the House of Representatives’ diversity office. Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, the first African American to lead a party in Congress, described Crane’s statement as “unfortunate” during his weekly news conference.

Speaker Kevin McCarthy, while acknowledging Crane’s claim of misspeaking, condemned his remarks, stating that they were “not acceptable.” McCarthy expressed that he had never previously heard Crane use such language and suggested that further clarification should be sought directly from the representative.

The House ultimately added Crane’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill, passing it with a narrow margin of 214-210 votes. However, it is unlikely that the Senate will adopt the House version of the bill. Crane was one of four Republicans who did not support the final defense policy bill.

The incident involving Crane’s use of the racially insensitive term highlighted ongoing concerns about racism and the need for DEI initiatives within the legislative process. It sparked discussions among lawmakers regarding the importance of promoting inclusivity and combating bigotry. The repercussions of Crane’s words serve as a reminder of the imperative to foster a more tolerant and inclusive society.