Booker introducing bill to remove Confederate statues from Capitol

Greg Nash

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) will introduce a bill to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

“I will be introducing a bill to remove Confederate statues from the US Capitol building,” he said on Twitter late Wednesday night. 

Booker, one of three African-Americans currently serving in the Senate, added that removing the roughly 12 Confederate statues would be “just one step. We have much work to do.” 

{mosads}A white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend began as a protest against the Charlottesville City Council’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. 

But since the rally turned violent and led to the death of one counterprotester, other localities have moved to take down Confederate statues — and some lawmakers think the Capitol should consider following suit. 

Booker didn’t lay out a timeline for when he would introduce the legislation, which would need 60 votes to pass the upper chamber. The Senate is scheduled to return to Washington in early September. 

Currently only states have the power to replace statues in the National Statuary Hall Collection. 

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) threw his support behind Booker’s forthcoming legislation, saying Democrats should “work towards the goal” of the bill while also continuing to “denounce and resist President Trump for his reprehensible actions.”

“Trump and Steve Bannon are trying to divert attention away from the president’s refusal to unequivocally and full-throatedly denounce white supremacy, neo-Nazism and other forms of bigotry,” Schumer said in a statement. 

A spokesperson for Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) said he will also work with Booker on the legislation. 

“Senator Kaine thinks Senator Booker’s proposal is a good idea, and he plans to work with him on the bill and support it,” the aide said. “He also believes the Senate needs to work to address the fundamental inequities in our society that have left African-Americans and families of color in this country with far less wealth, higher unemployment rates, fewer opportunities and less protection under the law.”

Kaine’s state would be impacted by the legislation if it passed. 

Virginia, like every other state, currently has two statues included in the National Statuary Hall Collection. One of the state’s statues is of Lee and is currently displayed in the Capitol’s Crypt.

The move could also have political repercussions for Kaine, whose state has been at the center of the debate on removing publicly displayed Confederate monuments. 

Corey Stewart, who defended the Lee statue in Charlottesville during his failed Virginia gubernatorial bid, said earlier this year that he was considering challenging Kaine in next year’s Senate race. 

Also voicing support Thursday for the statues’ removal was House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).

“There is no room for celebrating the violent bigotry of the men of the Confederacy in the hallowed halls of the United States Capitol or in places of honor across the country,” Pelosi said in a statement.

Members of the Congressional Black Caucus have also revived their efforts to get the Confederate statues removed. 

“We will never solve America’s race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States in order to keep African-Americans in chains. By the way, thank God, they lost,” CBC Chairman Cedric Richmond (D-La.) told ABC News.

But a caucus aide told The Hill earlier this week that the group is not currently working on any legislative efforts, including resolutions or letters, on Confederate statues in the Capitol.

Updated at 1:24 p.m.

Tags Chuck Schumer Cory Booker Tim Kaine
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