The White House and U.S. Capitol both lowered their flags to half mast Tuesday to honor those killed in the Chattanooga shooting, CNN reports.
House Speaker John Boehner announced Tuesday that flags would be lowered to half mast to honor the victims.
“Out of respect for their courageous service and sacrifice to our nation, flags at the U.S. Capitol are being lowered to half-staff,” Boehner said in a statement.
President Obama was chastised Tuesday for not immediately following suit and lowering the flags at the White House. Aides repeatedly refused to discuss whether the flags would be lowered.
“I don’t have more information about the status of the flag over the White House,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Monday. Earnest had nearly the same response for reporters Tuesday.
The move by President Obama to lower the flags was not without criticism and rebuke for not doing so earlier: “The President should follow suit and order flags flown at half staff across the country, and he should do so immediately,” House Armed Services Committee chairman Mac Thornberry said in a statement Tuesday before the flag was lowered at the White House.
Obama eventually ordered the flags lowered Tuesday afternoon in a statement released by the White House: “We draw strength from yet another American community that has come together with an unmistakable message to those who would try and do us harm: We do not give in to fear. You cannot divide us. And you will not change our way of life.”
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a GOP presidential candidate, called attention to the status of White House flags in a tweet Tuesday. “Capitol’s flag at half-staff today to honor the servicemen killed by a terrorist in Chattanooga. Meanwhile at the WH,” Cruz tweeted, posting a picture of the flag atop at the White House at full-staff.
Donald Trump entered the debate as well on Tuesday, announcing that U.S. flags would be lowered at his corporate properties.
“It is a simple yet meaningful and important gesture that signifies our respect and recognition for these great soldiers who lost their lives. We must do better for all Americans, especially our military. We must Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a statement.