McCarthy says states have power on removing Confederate statues from Capitol

Greg Nash

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Thursday said states, not Congress, should make decisions on removing statues of Confederates that stand in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

“When it comes to statues, states have the power to select who to come forward,” McCarthy said at a press conference.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in a Wednesday letter to the chairman and vice chairwoman of the Joint Committee on the Library, the panel that oversees the placement of statues, said the statues should be removed.

“Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Their statues pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed,” she wrote. 

McCarthy a day later said he didn’t think the Joint Committee on the Library had jurisdiction to remove the statues, arguing that it is up to the states. 

Each state commissions two statues to be displayed in Statuary Hall.

McCarthy said this was unfortunate and encourage state legislators to withdraw the statues.

“States unfortunately when you look at the law governing the replacement of statues is 2 U.S. Code § 2132,” he said. “I would encourage those legislators to be able to change from the path of what they brought forth.”

McCarthy noted that there was already discussion underway in North Carolina to replace one of its statues. 

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) is expected to reintroduce a bill to have the Confederate statues removed, ABC News reported Tuesday.

There has been a push to remove Confederate symbols and names across the country, and it has been energized by protests following the police killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died last month after a police officer put his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while pinning him to the street.

Statues have already been removed in Birmingham and Mobile, Ala.; Louisville, Ky.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Alexandria, Va., according to a Time magazine report.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) announcing the planned removal last week of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Richmond, though that move has been temporarily blocked by a judge following a lawsuit.

Tags Barbara Lee Confederate statues Confederate symbols George Floyd protests Kevin McCarthy Nancy Pelosi

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