Fox News reports the House of Representatives Wednesday passed bipartisan legislation to remove confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol, arguing that the memorials to white men who sought to keep African Americans enslaved should no longer be lauded in the halls of Congress.
The vote was 305-113. Seventy-two Republicans and one Libertarian, Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, joined with all Democrats in passing the legislation.
Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus Wednesday talked personally about the painful history of slavery and oppression in the United States, which has been on the national conscience since George Floyd’s death sparked global protests for racial justice.
“Just imagine what it feels like as an African American to know that my ancestors built the Capitol, but yet there are monuments to the very people that enslaved my ancestors,” said Rep. Karen Bass, D-Calif. “…These individuals do not deserve to be honored.”
Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said the vote can begin a healing process for those who have endured so much hardship and discrimination.
“It is fitting and proper that those individuals who fought to keep many of our ancestors enslaved should not have to be recognized in a place where people who do good expect to be recognized,” Thompson said. “This is not a way of erasing history. It is a way of correcting history.”
The measure now heads to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has previously rejected efforts to “airbrush the Capitol” and believes the decision on statues should be left up to the states, which get to send two statues each to display at the Capitol.
Taking a more aggressive approach, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, already removed on Juneteenth the four portraits of past House Speakers who served the confederacy and said this legislation would target 12 statues of Confederate officials and four other statues honoring persons who similarly exemplified “bigotry and hate.”
“How can we seek to end the scourge of racism in America we allow the worst perpetrators of that racism to be lauded in the halls of Congress,” Pelosi said on the House floor.
Democrats backing the legislation said the effort is long overdue and should be no substitute for more substantial legislation to tackle systemic racism and police brutality that protesters nationwide are demanding.
Critics who have panned rioters nationwide toppling and destroying statues backed his more orderly approach for removing symbols of the Confederacy.
Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill. said Republicans and Democrats Wednesday are sending a strong message on American values.
“The statues in the U.S. Capitol represent to visitors throughout the world what we stand for as a nation,” Davis said.