House votes to remove Robert E. Lee, other statues from Capitol

by Jordyn Pair · Jul 23rd, 2020 8:50 am

Architect of the Capitol

Last Updated Jul 23rd, 2020 at 10:58 pm

The House voted on Wednesday to remove statues inside the Capitol that have been deemed racially insensitive, including a statue of former Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Democrats began pushing for the removal of the 16 statues in June after nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd. They originally received pushback from the Republican members of the panel overseeing the statues, who said only the states that commissioned the statutes had power to remove them.

The newest bill overrules the state's authority, requiring the Capitol architect to remove 11 Confederate statues, four statues of men who promoted white supremacy, and the bust of Supreme Court Justice Roger Taney, who authored the 1857 Dred Scott decision that said slaves were not American citizens. Among the banned statues are those of John C. Calhoun and John Cabell Breckinridge, who both served as vice president but supported slavery.

Republicans said they feared the removal of the statues would set a precedent.

"We have had some absolutely terrible vice presidents throughout our history," said Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA). "I'm sure we will in the future. But if we are going to start down that road, we are going to be swapping out statues like trading cards at the whim of the moment. Our nation's history should be made of sterner stuff."

All Democrats supported the bill, while more than 110 Republicans voted against it.


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