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Report: GOP Leadership Left Members In The Dark About Confederate Flag Gambit

AP Photo / Bill Clark

CQ Roll Call details how Republican members on the Appropriations Committee found out about the late-night twist that would end up derailing the bill and ultimately give Democrats the upper hand in the Confederate flag debate:

The real red flag was the sudden appearance of leadership staff, namely senior aides for Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio.

But for members not on the floor at the time, the realization that something was up came more slowly.

“I usually stay around for most of the debate on the Interior bill, but I had to go get my dry cleaning so I’d have something to wear today,” Rep. Mike Simpson, (R-ID), the chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee told Roll Call, recalling the moment when Calvert took the floor with the amendment. “I got home and turned on the TV and Ken was using his motions to strike the last word … and I said, ‘What’s going on?’ And all of a sudden somebody hands him this amendment and he does it and I kind of go, ‘Oh, shit.'"

Meanwhile, according to the Roll Call report, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), another member of the Appropriations Committee, was out to dinner with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Stewart said his phone was low on battery, preventing his colleagues from informing him of the unfolding drama, but his dinner partner made no mention that the amendment was coming.

Democrats said they were shocked by the move, and went on the offensive Thursday, calling out Republicans for the reversal.

In a statement Thursday released as the effort was falling apart, Calvert admitted that leadership asked him to bring the amendment on the behalf of Republicans from South.

"Looking back, I regret not conferring with my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, especially my Ranking Member Betty McCollum, prior to offering the Leadership's amendment and fully explaining its intent given the strong feelings Members of the House feel regarding this important and sensitive issue," he said.