Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year'

Democrats bullish on bill to create women's history museum: 'It's an election year'
© Greg Nash

House Democrats predicted on the eve of a floor vote to create a national women's history museum that the decades-long effort would finally be signed into law this year given both parties' need to appeal to women in the November elections.

The House is slated to easily pass legislation on Tuesday that would establish a women's history museum within the Smithsonian Institution, the culmination of an effort by House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairwoman Carolyn MaloneyCarolyn Bosher MaloneyGun control group rolls out House endorsements Overnight Defense: Pentagon watchdog sidelined by Trump resigns | Plan would reportedly bring troops in Afghanistan back by Election Day | Third service member dies from COVID-19 Business groups throw support behind House Democrat's bill to provide pandemic risk insurance MORE (D-N.Y.) spanning back to 1998.

It wasn't until 2014 that the House passed a bipartisan bill led by Maloney that created a commission to study the idea of a women's history museum on or near the National Mall. That commission produced a report in 2016 with recommendations for building such a museum.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maloney introduced a bill in 2017 similar to the one up for a vote this week to create the proposed museum, but it didn't advance in the then-GOP-controlled House.

Neither Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSchumer to GOP: Cancel 'conspiracy hearings' on origins of Russia probe Overnight Health Care: Trump says US 'terminating' relationship with WHO | Cuomo: NYC on track to start reopening week of June 8 | COVID-19 workplace complaints surge 10 things to know today about coronavirus MORE (R-Ky.) nor President TrumpDonald John TrumpMichael Flynn transcripts reveal plenty except crime or collusion 50 people arrested in Minneapolis as hundreds more National Guard troops deployed Missouri state lawmaker sparks backlash by tweeting 'looters deserve to be shot' MORE has committed to supporting the legislation at this point. Aides to McConnell and Trump didn't offer additional guidance when asked for comment on Monday.

When asked about the path forward for the bill, House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOvernight Defense: Democrats expand probe into State IG's firing | House schedules late June votes with defense bill on deck | New Navy secretary sworn in House scheduled to return for votes in late June House pushes back schedule to pass spending bills MORE (D-Md.) noted that women are expected to make up more than half the electorate in 2020. Eligible female voters have consistently voted at higher rates than men in recent elections.

"That will have a real telling on the Senate and on the president," Hoyer said.

"It's an election year. I don't see how you can fail to pass this bill in the Senate during an election year," added Del. Eleanor Holmes NortonEleanor Holmes NortonDC delegate calls for closure of Lincoln and Jefferson memorials DC argues it is shortchanged by coronavirus relief bill An inclusive democracy Demands DC statehood MORE (D), the District of Columbia's nonvoting member of Congress.

ADVERTISEMENT

Maloney said that she plans to meet Tuesday with Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDemocrats gear up to hit GOP senators on DACA OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Trump administration gives renewables more time to take advantage of tax credits | House Republicans introduce bill to speed mining projects for critical minerals | Watchdog faults EPA communications in contamination of NC river The Hill's Coronavirus Report: Unemployment claims now at 41 million with 2.1 million more added to rolls; Topeka mayor says cities don't have enough tests for minorities and homeless communities MORE (R-Maine) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGraham announces hearing on police use of force after George Floyd killing Frustration builds in key committee ahead of Graham subpoena vote  The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter MORE (D-Calif.), the authors of a Senate companion bill to create the women's museum, about the path forward in the upper chamber. But she predicted that Trump, whose eponymous tower in Manhattan is located in Maloney's district, would ultimately back the bill.

"I firmly believe that the president of the United States would support it," Maloney said.

Maloney's bill in 2014 to create a privately funded commission to study the concept of a women's history museum passed with widespread bipartisan support. But 33 conservative Republicans voted against it, citing concerns that the proposal would ultimately need taxpayer funding and focus too much on women who advocated for abortion rights.

The legislation scheduled for a vote on Tuesday currently has 293 co-sponsors, including 60 Republicans.

Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickGun control group rolls out House endorsements House Democrats make initial ad buys in battleground states Bipartisan Senate group offers new help to state, local governments MORE (R-Pa.), one of the lead co-sponsors of Maloney's bill, expressed hope that it would pass "unanimously."

"We can send a very strong message to the Senate to pick up this bill," Fitzpatrick said.

House Democrats are trying to hammer their own message this week with legislation meant to boost women as the presidential primary season moves through the early state contests. 

In addition to the bill to create a women's history museum, the House will also vote on a resolution on Thursday to remove the ratification deadline to add the Equal Rights Amendment prohibiting discrimination based on gender to the Constitution.

Maloney argued that there should be a museum dedicated to documenting women's history given the wealth of other museums in Washington focusing on all sorts of historical topics.

"This all began one day I was walking around the Mall. And I was looking at the museums. And they have postage stamps, they have law and order, they have spies, they have textiles, they have everything. And they're all very enriching and important institutions. But I found myself asking, 'Where are the women?'" she said.