BISMARCK — North Dakota Rep. Terry Jones has withdrawn a pair of controversial bills, including one that would have allowed residents to designate their race as "American" on official documents.

Jones said he originally filed House Bill 1333 because he is "disgusted" with how race is used by bad actors to divide the country and the legislation would help unify Americans under a shared identity. Critics said the bill failed to acknowledge the nation's complicated history with race.

The New Town Republican said he chose to drop the controversial proposal on Thursday, Jan. 21, because he's "on a quest to heal the country." Jones added that he would like to give President Joe Biden's administration a chance to bring Americans together, and retracting the bill was his way of "extending an olive branch."

In speaking about the bill last week, Jones told Forum News Service that Black Americans are "glad their ancestors were brought here as slaves." Black social justice activists and Democratic lawmakers said the comment was blatantly racist, and some residents called on Jones to resign.

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Jones also retracted on Thursday a widely criticized bill that would have effectively prevented North Dakotans from legally identifying as transgender.

No future hearings or debate on the bills will be held.