THE NEUTRAL ZONE
The House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill Wednesday to remove statues of Confederate figures and leaders who supported white supremacist beliefs from the U.S. Capitol. The legislation passed in a 305-113 majority, with 72 Republicans joining Democrats and Independent Rep. Justin Amash. The bill will now move to the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has previously said the decision for removal should be left to individual states.
The legislation additionally called to remove the bust of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who wrote the Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott vs. Sandford. That decision said people of African descent were not United States citizens. A bust of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice on the Supreme Court, would replace Taney’s bust under the legislation. The approval came a day after the House approved the annual defense bill, with a caveat that the military rename Army bases named after Confederate generals. President Trump promised his veto if the bill comes across his desk.
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) noted the significance of passing the legislation less than a week after the passing of Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), saying, “This is also a way to honor his legacy because what he fought for every day is the exact opposite of these symbols.” At a House subcommittee hearing Tuesday, Rev. Robert W. Lee IV argued for the removal of Confederate statues at national parks and federal sites. Rev. Lee, the descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, indicated Gen. Lee’s testimony after the Civil War showed his “unfitness for commemorative monuments.”
Although an ABC News/Washington Post poll showed a record number of respondents believe minorities are “denied equal treatment” under the law, this support does not necessarily translate to policy changes such as removing Confederate statues or renaming military bases named for Confederate generals. Respectively, 43% and 42% of respondents support such changes. A poll from NBC News/Wall Street Journal showed a small majority (51%) support the removal of Confederate monuments, a double-digit increase since 2018.
House Votes Overwhelmingly To Remove Confederate Statues From Capitol – HuffPost – 7/22/2020
The House on Wednesday approved legislation to rid the Capitol of Confederate statues, including the likenesses of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney and Confederate leaders Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis. All Democrats, 72 Republicans and one independent (Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan) voted for the bill, which now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate.
Roger B. Taney: Chief Justice who authored decision not to make African Americans citizens – Fox News – 7/22/2020
Among the most hotly contested statues is that of the late Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the Dred Scott decision in 1857 that ruled Black people could not become U.S. citizens. […] Although the measure will likely pass in the Democrat-controlled House, removing such statues from the overall Capitol collection requires Senate action, and as it stands, there is no plan set forth for the Republican-controlled chamber to consider any similar measures.
113 House Republicans Vote To Keep Confederate Statues In Capitol – National Memo – 7/23/2020
The House voted by a margin of 305-113 to remove statues of persons “who served as an officer or voluntarily with the Confederate States of America or of the military forces or government of a State while the State was in rebellion against the United States.” The bill would also remove statues of other racist officials, namely white supremacist Charles Brantley Aycock, slavery enthusiast John Caldwell Calhoun, and “white standards of civilization” defender James Paul Clarke. It instructs that a bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision, be replaced with one of Justice Thurgood Marshall in the Old Supreme Court Chamber.
House Dems to vote on removing Confederate statues, Justice Taney bust from Capitol – The Washington Times – 7/22/2020
The House moved to scrub the Capitol of statues of men who served the Confederacy and former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney by passing a bill Wednesday evening that would ban them from being on display. […] House Democrats said the legislation would help America grapple with the country’s legacy of slavery without erasing that history.
Push to remove Confederate statues stalls in rural America – Associated Press – 7/22/2020
In recent weeks, dozens of Confederate statues have fallen across the country — often in more liberal-leaning urban centers. But in many smaller places like Clinton, the effort to remove markers that many view as racist relics has stalled or has yet to arrive. […] All but eight have come down in cities or metropolitan areas larger than 50,000 people. Most of the areas lean politically left, with 41 of the monuments removed in counties or equivalent areas that voted Democratic in the 2016 presidential election.
Steny (Wear a Mask) Hoyer on Twitter, 7/22/2020: The House just passed a bill to remove shameful reminders of slavery, segregation, and sedition from the U.S. Capitol. This is a long-overdue measure, but it is never too late to do the right thing. I urge the Senate to take up and pass this bill to #RemoveHate.
Bill Hagerty on Twitter, 7/23/2020: The Democrats want to tear down our statues and erase our history until there is nothing left. As your Senator, I will stand up to their dangerous tactics of making America a socialist country.
Rep. Eric Swalwell on Twitter, 7/22/2020: I’m sitting on the House Floor astonished that nearly HALF @HouseGOP are voting to keep racist Confederate monuments in the Capitol. Fortunately, @LeaderHoyer’s @HouseDemocrats’ bill to remove them will pass. No statues for traitors!
Sam Brodey on Twitter, 7/23/2020: As House moves to remove Confederate symbols from Capitol, Rep. Louie Gohmert introduces a resolution to scrub from Congress any mention of parties that “ever held a public position that supported slavery.” It helpfully includes a list of pre-Civil Rights era Democrat positions
Rep. Barbara Lee on Twitter, 7/22/2020: If 113 opposed removing symbols of hate from our Capitol, we know our work is far from over.
Craig Caplan on Twitter, 7/22/2020: Several House members changed their votes before the final vote was called yesterday on the legislation to remove Confederate statues from US Capitol. GOP Reps. Johnson (LA) and Grothman (WI) both changed their votes from “Present” to “No.”