The House this week voted to approve a bill that would remove statues of Gen. Robert E. Lee and other Confederate leaders from the U.S. Capitol building as the debate over Confederate figures and their place in modern America continues to rage.
The bill, if passed, would also see the removal of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, who was responsible for authoring the 1857 Dred Scott decision that found African Americans were not eligible to be citizens.
At least 10 statues honoring Confederate officials, including Jefferson Davis, the leader of the Confederacy, have been marked for removal in the bill. The bill directs the Architect of the Capitol to identify and remove the statues from Statuary Hall, including one that depicts former U.S. Vice President John C. Calhoun of South Carolina who was known for his strong defense of slavery and white supremacist views.
“Defenders and purveyors of sedition, slavery, segregation and white supremacy have no place in this temple of liberty,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said, the AP reported.
The bipartisan bill passed 305-113 with 71 Republicans joining Democrats in approving the bill. It's now headed to the Republican-controlled Senate where its fate remains uncertain. Even if the bill were to pass the Senate, President Donald Trump would be required to sign it. Trump has been vocally opposed to the removal of statues and condemned those protesters who have toppled them in recent weeks.
The statues would be replaced with others, with Hoyer, who co-sponsored the measure, saying he would replace the Taney bust with one of late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice to be seated.
“What Dred Scott said was, Black lives did not matter,″ Hoyer said. “So when we assert that yes they do matter, it is out of conviction ... that in America, the land of the free includes all of us.″
The vote comes as communities across the country reckon with their history and the fallout of memorializing figures from the Confederacy and others who have avowed problematic views.
Should the bill be signed into law, the busts and statues would be removed within 30 days.
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