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McCarthy to offer bill withholding funds from states that don't protect statues
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said on Thursday he plans to introduce legislation withholding federal funding for states and cities that don't enforce laws protecting statues and monuments.
His announcement comes in the wake of nationwide protests against racial injustice sparked throughout the country following the police killing of George Floyd in late May.
During protests, there have been instances of demonstrators ripping down and vandalizing statues of historical figures, including those of Robert E. Lee, Francis Scott Key, Ulysses S. Grant, St. Junipero Serra and Christopher Columbus.
"I'll be introducing legislation to withhold funding from states and cities where leaders fail to uphold the law. The mobs that Democrats encourage suppress speech and punish those who speak out," McCarthy told reporters on Thursday.
"Democrats encourage it because they think it is a distraction, that their agenda can skate by unnoticed. They see it as a supplement to the radical movement in the streets."
Top Republicans argue that calls to take down statues and monuments have gone too far, citing, for instance, some protesters who advocate for pulling down a statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C., that shows a freed slave kneeling in front of the former president or the removal of the four sculptures on Mount Rushmore.
McCarthy also hit out at Democratic lawmakers, saying that opting not to speak out against protesters tearing down the statues signals they want to "erase history" and fuels acts of violence.
"Unfortunately, though, some on the left encouraged by the silence of Democratic leaders including the Speaker of this House are trying to erase our story, they want to erase our history. Whether it's a monument of Abraham Lincoln freeing the slaves or four of our greatest, Democrats no longer view the richness of our country's history worthy," he said.
"Not only do they want to erase our past, they want to radically change the way we live today. The mobs the Democrats encourage destroy property, they threaten and sometimes even attack innocent citizens."
President Trump recently signed an executive order aimed at protecting monuments and statues from vandalism, tweeting on Wednesday that those who deface them face an "excess of a 10 year prison term."