The House voted and passed a bill Tuesday to remove several statues associated with the Confederacy or racism, as well as the bust of Roger Taney, a former Chief Justice known for an infamous pro-slavery ruling, from the U.S. Capitol. The measure overwhelmingly passed in a 285-120 vote.
The House approved the legislation last year, but it failed to gain traction in the Republican-controlled Senate. It is unclear if it has enough GOP support now to pass in the Democratic-held Senate.
Now that the House is now in Democratic hands, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, has not indicated when or if he’ll bring up the bill, but House Democrats are confident. “I have no reason to believe Leader Schumer won’t bring this bill to the floor,” Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat said.
The bill would replace Taney, the fifth Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, with a bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first black person to serve on the high court. A particular emphasis by lawmakers was on the removal of Taney, noting that he authored the infamous ‘Dred Scott v. Sanford’ ruling that declared that Black Americans could not be United States citizens.
Democrats have been determined to rid the building of several statues of long-dead dignitaries who held racist viewpoints, a goal realized in Tuesday’s vote of 285-120. Sixty-seven Republicans voted along with all Democrats present, but many GOP members said the removal process should be left to the states, which are each allowed to placeplace two statues in the Capitol.
When representatives reintroduced the bill last month, Rep. Jim Clyburn, (D-SC),pointed to the confederate flags and other hate symbols displayed by an alleged pro-Trump mob during the January 6 Capitol riot as a reason to replace the statues. “On January 6th, we experienced the divisiveness of Confederate battle flags being flown inside the U.S. Capitol. Yet there are still vestiges that remain in this sacred building that glorify people and a movement that embraced that flag and sought to divide and destroy our great country,” Clyburn said in a statement.
Republicans argued Tuesday that Congress should instead reform the lengthy process by which state can replace the two statues they dedicate to stand in the Capitol. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) questioned the timing of the bill and pointed to ‘decades of inaction’ by Democratic majorities to remove the statues. She noted the panel overseeing the statutes moves to slowly, noting a request by North Carolina officials to replace the Aycock statue with the likeness of the late Reverend Bill Graham which “has been awaiting action” from months suggesting more substantial reforms are in order.
But Democrats said it is more important to act immediately to relocate the statues to a location where they can no longer be viewed by the public who visit the Capitol.
Some states have already taken steps to replace statues, as Arkansas officials have already taken steps to replace the Clarke statue in the Capitol as well as that of Uriah Milton Rose. These figures will be replaced with statues of musician Johnny Cash and Daisy Lee Gatson Bates, who was a member of the “Little Rock Nine,” a group of black students who attended a new integrated school in the 1950’s.
Regardless of race, decisions that were made during that time frame are still the history of our great nation. It is very disturbing to this writer that the possibility of all our country’s history is being hidden or destroyed with generations to follow that will probably never see or know, since the teaching of history has gone to the wayside in our schools.