House Democrats insert language in federal spending bill ordering removal of Confederate statues from U.S. Capitol

Politics – washingtonpost

The fiscal year 2021 legislative branch funding bill released Monday by the House Appropriations Committee includes a provision directing the Architect of the Capitol to remove statues or busts “that represent figures who participated in the Confederate Army or government, as well as the statues of individuals with unambiguous records of racial intolerance,” according to a summary released by the panel.

The text of the bill mentions the statues and busts of four individuals in particular: Roger B. Taney, the U.S. Supreme Court justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision; former North Carolina governor and segregationist Charles Brantley Aycock; former U.S. vice president, senator from South Carolina and slavery advocate John C. Calhoun; and former Arkansas governor and senator James P. Clarke, who held racist beliefs.

Congress faces a late September deadline each year by which to send its appropriations bills to the president’s desk, although in practice, agreement on those measures is rarely reached, forcing lawmakers to pass a series of continuing resolutions in order to keep the government running at current spending levels. That means the appropriations bill containing the provision on Confederate statues is unlikely to become law.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other House Democrats have long sought to remove Confederate imagery from the Capitol, and in recent weeks, they have renewed that quest in a number of ways. Last month, Pelosi wrote in a letter to colleagues who co-chair the Joint Committee on the Library that Congress should “lead by example” and remove such statues. And Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said that the House will vote later this month on a bill to replace the bust of Taney with a bust of Thurgood Marshall, the first African American member of the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Capitol is rife with symbols of the Confederacy and racist ideology. Some of the statues are part of the National Statuary Hall Collection, which is established by act of Congress and consists of two statues donated by each state.

The appropriations measure introduced Monday calls for the Architect of the Capitol to keep any removed statues in storage until arrangements have been made for them to be returned to their states of origin.

Mike DeBonis contributed to this report.

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