WASHINGTON – The House passed a bill Tuesday that would remove Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol as well as a bust of the former Supreme Court chief justice who wrote the 1857 Dred Scott decision that denied enslaved people the right to be citizens.
“This sacred space, this temple of democracy has been defiled for too long. We ought not to forget history. We must learn from history. But we ought not to honor that which defiles the principles for which we … stand,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said on the House floor before the vote. “It’s time to remove those symbols of slavery, segregation, and sedition from these halls.”
The bill passed by a vote of 285 to 120. Every Democrat present and 67 Republicans voted for it. The bill heads to the Senate for consideration, where it would need 10 Republican senators to join every Democrat to pass the upper chamber.
The legislation would require states to remove and replace any statues honoring members of the Confederacy in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol by prohibiting “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” from the collection.
Though a number of Republicans supported the bill, they used the debate to point out Democrats represented the South during the Civil War and the era of Jim Crow. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, -Calif., criticized Democrats as hypocrites on race.
“The Democratic Party has doubled down on what I consider this shameful history by replacing the racism of the past with the racism of the critical race theory,” he said, referring to the academic examination of systemic racism in American life that has become a rallying cry for conservatives.
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