Congress: Yes, Obama Was Born in Hawaii

5182726Yesterday, an innocuous-sounding resolution in honor of the 50th anniversary of Hawaiian statehood came up for vote on the House floor.

The resolution from Hawaii Democrat Neil Abercrombie, which Greg Sargent first reported, included this line: "Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii…"

Why is that notable? Because it's just the sort of claim that angers the birthers – the movement of folks who believe, against overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that President Obama was not really born in Hawaii, and is thus not a U.S. citizen.

Some Republicans have been dancing around birther issue, refusing to state flatly that the president is a U.S. citizen. (Here's a video from liberal blog Firedoglake of a number of GOP Congressmen dodging the question.) As Sargent wrote, the resolution put that group in a difficult position: "They can vote for the measure, and endorse the idea that Obama was born in Hawaii, which could earn the wrath of birthers. Or they can vote against commemorating the 50th state's joining of our blessed Union. Or GOPers can skip the vote, but that could look nutty."

Among those who have been offering the birthers at least tacit support are a group of House Republicans who introduced a bill (known informally as "the birther bill") mandating that presidential candidates reveal their birth certificates.

But the lead sponsor of that bill – Republican Rep. Bill Posey of Florida – apparently decided that was enough: He voted for Abercrombie's resolution, despite the Obama-birthplace language. So, as Eric Kleefeld reports, did several of the birther bill's cosponsors.

The resolution ended up passing the House 378-0. Fifty-five members did not vote – but don't read too much into that, as 35 of them were Democrats.

Two quick notes about the resolution. The liberal blogs were inflamed when it was reported that one of their favorite targets – Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota – had blocked a voice vote on the resolution "on the grounds that a quorum is not present."

Salon, the liberal web site, reported later that the criticism of Bachmann was, in this case, unfair. "She did indeed block a vote on the resolution, noting the absence of a quorum, but that move wasn't about Abercrombie's resolution specifically. She was just playing her part. The House had already decided to postpone the votes on all of the resolutions being considered under a suspension of the rules until Monday evening. Bachmann noted the absence of a quorum for several other non-controversial pieces of legislation so that those votes, too, could be postponed until the scheduled time."

Bachmann voted for the resolution in the end.

Salon also noted that the bill was not designed specifically in response to the birthers – it was introduced last month, and just happened to come up this week.

More bither-related news: Hawaii Confirms Obama's Birthplace, Again