House Votes to Remove Statues of Confederate Leaders from Capitol

A statue of Confederate Joseph Wheeler is displayed in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Erin Scott

The House voted on Tuesday to remove statues honoring Confederate and other white supremacist leaders from public display at the United States Capitol, renewing an effort to rid the seat of American democracy of symbols of rebellion and racism.

The chamber voted 285 to 120 to approve the legislation, which aims to banish the likenesses of Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, Jefferson Davis and roughly a dozen other figures associated with the Confederacy or white supremacist causes. Sixty-seven Republicans, including the party’s top leader, joined with every Democrat who voted to support the changes, but a majority of the party stood against it.

“We can’t change history, but we can certainly make it clear that which we honor and that which we do not honor,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland and the majority leader, who helped write the bill. “Symbols of hate and division have no place in the halls of Congress.”

The legislation will now go to the Senate, where Democrats have vowed to use their new majority to try to advance it but will face off with Republicans opposed to it on ideological and philosophical grounds.

The vote marked the latest round in a yearslong debate on Capitol Hill and across the country over the role of Confederate statuary and symbols in public spaces, and the implications of removing them. Proponents of removing or relocating Confederate monuments and erecting new ones to commemorate the national struggle for equal rights have notched steady progress.

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SOURCE: The New York Times, Nicholas Fandos