On Wednesday, the House of Representatives voted to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol.
According to Politico, the bill would remove a bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney from the Old Supreme Court Chamber. Taney was a Supreme Court justice who was responsible for the Dred Scott decision that ruled Black people were not allowed to be citizens. The bill would also remove statues of Charles Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James Paul Clarke, three men who advocated for white supremacy and opposed the abolition of slavery. There are currently 12 Confederate statues in the Capitol collection and the bill would require the states who submitted them to reclaim them and submit new ones to replace them.
Each state can donate up to two statues to the Capitol collection to honor notable people from the state. While some states have taken the effort to remove their Confederate statues, a dozen still remain. This includes a statue of Alexander Stephens, vice president of the Confederacy, that was submitted by Georgia, as well as a statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis, that was submitted by Mississippi. There are currently talks in Georgia to replace the statue of Stephens with one of the late Rep. John Lewis, who died last Friday.
While there was bipartisan support for the bill in the House, it’s unclear if the bill has a similar level of support from the GOP-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declined to comment on whether the bill will even be considered and Senate Republicans have said it’s up to the states to replace the statues they’ve sent to the collection. Even if the bill were to pass through the Senate, it’s unlikely that President Trump, who’s become increasingly defensive of the monuments, would actually sign it.
This didn’t stop House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) from being enthusiastic about the bill.
“Today will be a historic day in the history of the Congress of the United States and of our country,” Hoyer said. “The House is taking a long-overdue and historic step to ensure that individuals we honor in our Capitol represent our nation’s highest ideals and not the worst in its history.”
Some, like Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, saw the passing of the bill as a way to honor the late Rep. Lewis.
“The main honor for Mr. Lewis, to me, is to get a signature on the Voting Rights Act. But this is also a way to honor his legacy because what he fought for every day is the exact opposite of the symbols,” Bass said. “Personally, as a black lawmaker, the presence of these statues represent an acceptance of white supremacy and racism,” she added.
The passing of this bill comes after the House also approved a measure to remove the names of Confederate generals from military bases. Last month, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi removed portraits of Confederate leaders from the House chamber.