WASHINGTON, May 19 (UPI) -- The House of Representatives voted Thursday to restrict the use of the Confederate battle flag in national cemeteries.
The vote was the first-ever roll call vote in the House on the issue of the Confederate flag, which some regard as patriotic and historic expression and others as a reminder of American slavery.
The 265-169 vote was for approval of an amendment to a military construction and veterans' affairs bill prohibiting federal spending at veterans' cemeteries that display the flag.
One Democrat, Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Ga., and 158 Republicans voted 'no.'
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., defended his decision to allow the vote, saying, "Last year it (legislation on the Confederate battle flag) stopped the appropriations process in its tracks. What changed is, we have to get through these things, and if we're going to have open rules and appropriations, which we have, which is regular order, people are going to have to take tough votes...People realize the last thing we should do is derail our own appropriations process."
Last year's vote in the House came days after the racially motivated church shooting in Charleston, S.C. An amendment to an Interior Department spending bill sponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman, D-Calif., called for limitations on displaying the flag in certain national cemeteries. It passed without discussion in a late-night session of the House, but support for the spending bill weakened as members of Congress, particularly those from southern states, learned of the amendment
Huffman also sponsored this year's flag amendment.