Governor Nikki Haley plans a news conference Monday afternoon amid growing speculation that South Carolina leaders are ready to call for removing the Confederate flag from the State House grounds.
Debate about the flag, long a source of a controversy in the state where the Civil War began, intensified after nine parishioners at an African-American in Charleston were murdered Wednesday during an evening Bible study session.
Police have charged a 21-year-old Columbia-area man, who spouted racist statements and was featured in photos holding the Confederate flag.
Haley, a Lexington Republican, is meeting with state political leaders Monday ahead of her 4 p.m. news conference. The office of House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, confirmed he is meeting with Haley at 1 p.m.
Democratic lawmakers also have been asked to meet with the governor. On Monday, the Greenville Chamber of Commerce and University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides joined a growing list of supporters for removing the Confederate flag from where it flies at the State House.
The GOP-dominated General Assembly has the final authority on removing the Confederate flag from the State House.
State Rep. James Smith, D-Richland, said Monday lawmakers have been on the phone in recent days talking about the Confederate flag.
Smith said there is a “growing consensus among lawmakers – House, Senate, Republicans and Democrats” – to resolve the flag issue before the next legislative session begins.
Smith said lawmakers have the ability vote on removing the flag this summer by amending a resolution that has allowed them to continue working after the regular session ended in early June.
Removing the flag requires a two-thirds majority vote in the House and Senate.
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