House Passes Bill To Remove Confederate-Era Statues From Capitol. Will Senate Take It Up, Though?

( Following in the footsteps of cities and states around the country, the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to remove all statues honoring the Confederacy from the Capitol.

In total, there are 12 statues in the Capitol that are dedicated to Confederate-era figures, or people who promoted white supremacy and/or slavery.

The bill received overwhelming support in the House from Democrats and a big chunk of Republicans, but it’s unclear whether the Senate will even consider the legislation. As of yet, Republican leaders in the Senate have balked at the prospect, saying it’s the choice of states to replace any statues they sent to the Capitol.

On Wednesday, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell declined to comment on the bill.

Even if the Senate does decide to debate, and then pass, the bill or one similar to it, it’s not clear if President Donald Trump would sign the bill. In the past, he has expressed his dislike for removing historical statues that honor Confederate leaders or people associated with slavery and/or white supremacy.

For now, House members are touting their bill as a victory for the country. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer commented:

“Today will be a historic day in the history of the Congress of the United States and of our country. 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.”

Among the statues that would be taken down are one in the OId Supreme Court Chamber that honors Chief Justice Roger B. Taney. He was the author of the Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision that ruled African Americans couldn’t become citizens.

The bust of Taney would be replaced by a statue honoring Thurgood Marshall, who was the first African American Supreme Court justice.

The bill also calls for the removal of statues of Charles Aycock, James Paul Clarke and John C. Calhoun — all who promoted white supremacy and slavery. The legislation would require states to reclaim these statues and replace them as well.

The timing of the bill’s passage was also important for House Democrats. Some said it is a great way to honor Representative John Lewis, who died last Friday. Lewis was an icon in the civil rights movement.

California Representative Karen Bass, who is the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said:

“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. Personally, as a black lawmaker, the presence of these statues represent an acceptance of white supremacy and racism.”

Every state is allowed to donate two statues to the Capitol collection to “honor persons notable in their history.” Many states have already removed or are working to remove statues of Confederates or people with racist pasts, but 12 still remain.

One is from Georgia that honors Alexander Stephens, who was the vice president of the Confederacy.