In the wake of racially charged protests, the country has seen an uptick of statue desecrations in multiple cities against figures who don’t pass today’s standard of “decency.” From Abraham Lincoln to Christopher Columbus, many historical figures have been targeted not only by protestors but by politicians as well.
And now this week, the House of Representatives is set to pass H.R. 7573, which removes various statues from the Halls of the United States Capitol that are affiliated with the Confederacy. The title of the bill is a description of its intent, To direct the Architect of the Capitol to replace the bust of Roger Brooke Taney in the Old Supreme Court Chamber of the United States Capitol with a bust of Thurgood Marshall to be obtained by the Joint Committee on the Library and to remove certain statues from areas of the United States Capitol which are accessible to the public, to remove all statues of individuals who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from display in the United States Capitol, and for other purposes.
While some figures are called out directly, like Chief Justice Taney and John Caldwell Calhoun, it will be up to the Architect of the Capitol to discern which statues pass the sniff test. Specifically, the legislation sets up the following procedure as a guide:
SEC. 3. REQUIREMENTS AND REMOVAL PROCEDURES FOR STATUES IN NATIONAL STATUARY HALL.
(a) Requirements. — Section 1814 of the Revised Statutes (2 U.S.C. 2131) is amended by inserting “(other than 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)” after “military services”.
President Trump recently signed an Executive Order on Building and Rebuilding Monuments to American Heroes. Congress would do well to heed the President’s insight on statues. The Executive Order states:
“To destroy a monument is to desecrate our common inheritance. In recent weeks, in the midst of protests across America, many monuments have been vandalized or destroyed. Some local governments have responded by taking their monuments down. Among others, monuments to Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, leaders of the abolitionist movement, the first all-volunteer African-American regiment of the Union Army in the Civil War, and American soldiers killed in the First and Second World Wars have been vandalized, destroyed, or removed.
These statues are not ours alone, to be discarded at the whim of those inflamed by fashionable political passions; they belong to generations that have come before us and to generations yet unborn. My Administration will not abide an assault on our collective national memory. In the face of such acts of destruction, it is our responsibility as Americans to stand strong against this violence, and to peacefully transmit our great national story to future generations through newly commissioned monuments to American heroes.”
While some may disagree with a state statue choice, Congress is usurping their power in this legislation by taking away a state’s right to determine if and when they want a statue removed. As you may know, each state has two statues represented in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall — a point of pride for many tourists. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) pointed out that “…he didn't think the Joint Committee on the Library had jurisdiction to remove the statues, arguing that it is up to the states.” This is because “the law governing the replacement of statues is 2 U.S. Code § 2132.”
So, instead of legislating statue removal in the Halls of Congress, state legislators should be called upon to remove them. This ensures that it is indeed the will of the people desiring a statue to be removed, not just House Democrats. Yet, H.R. 7573 is set to pass the House through suspension of the rules or through a unanimous voice vote. Through this process, no member will be required to vote yay or nay unless one of them calls for a recorded vote. But more importantly, they won’t be held accountable to a yes or no vote. It seems many Representatives in the House forget who their power comes from.
For these reasons, please join us in asking your Representative to call for a recorded vote and to vote NO on H.R. 7573.
Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121