House to vote next week on removing Confederate statues from Capitol

House to vote next week on removing Confederate statues from Capitol
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The House will vote next week on legislation to remove statues of people who served the Confederacy or otherwise worked to uphold slavery that are currently displayed in the Capitol, Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerYellen tries to tamp down Democrats fury over evictions ban House bundling is bad for deliberation CBC presses Biden to extend eviction moratorium MORE's (D-Md.) office announced Friday.

The vote will come nearly a year after the House passed a previous version of the bill amid nationwide demonstrations for racial justice, which were spurred by the death of George Floyd in police custody. The measure stalled in the Senate, which at the time was controlled by Republicans.

The legislation up for a vote next week is authored by Hoyer and would order the removal of the 10 Confederate statues on display in the Capitol complex that are part of the National Statuary Hall collection.

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While lawmakers currently lack the authority to unilaterally remove the statues, they can decide where to display them in the Capitol. Established rules for the collection only allow a statue to be replaced if the state legislature and governor agree to it.

Some of the Southern states that contributed the Confederate statues are already in the process of replacing them with less controversial figures, including Arkansas and Florida.

Since the passage of last year's bill, a statue of Confederate army commander Robert E. Lee was removed from the Capitol, in December, at the request of Virginia state leaders.

Earlier last year, Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries On The Money: Biden issues targeted eviction moratorium | GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal 'The Squad' celebrates Biden eviction moratorium MORE (D-Calif.) ordered the removal of four portraits of previous House Speakers who served in the Confederacy that were displayed near the House chamber. Pelosi also moved the Lee statue from a prominent place near the Capitol Rotunda to a floor below in an area known as the Capitol Crypt.

But other works of art honoring people who served the Confederacy or defended slavery remain in the Capitol.

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One provision in the bill awaiting a vote would replace a bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the 1857 Dred Scott ruling that Black people did not have the rights of citizens and couldn't sue in federal courts, with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.

"While the removal of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s bust from the United States Capitol does not relieve the Congress of the historical wrongs it committed to protect the institution of slavery, it expresses Congress’s recognition of one of the most notorious wrongs to have ever taken place in one of its rooms, that of Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s Dred Scott v. Sandford decision," the legislation states.

Hoyer's bill mirrors provisions in a legislative branch spending measure unveiled this week by the House Appropriations Committee to remove the Taney bust and Confederate statues in the Capitol.

Last year's vote on the stand-alone statue bill divided House Republicans. A total of 72 Republicans voted with Democrats to take down the Confederate imagery, while 113 voted against the legislation.

Republicans declined to take action in 2017 when members of the Congressional Black Caucus called for removing the Confederate statues in the wake of the violence at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va.

Other legislative efforts to address racial justice are still in the works. The three chief House and Senate negotiators on a police reform package announced Thursday that they had reached an agreement on a framework, but were still working to craft a finalized proposal in the coming weeks, missing another self-imposed deadline.

Hoyer's office also announced Friday that the House will vote next week on a resolution to establish a select committee to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection, following an announcement from Pelosi.

In addition, the House will consider a $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill to invest in roads, bridges, transit and rail as Democrats take steps toward passing President BidenJoe BidenFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries FDA aims to give full approval to Pfizer vaccine by Labor Day: report Overnight Defense: Police officer killed in violence outside Pentagon | Biden officials back repeal of Iraq War authorization | NSC pushed to oversee 'Havana Syndrome' response MORE's two-part infrastructure plan in the coming months. Democratic leaders announced Thursday they will proceed with a bipartisan deal to invest in physical infrastructure projects as well as a yet-to-be-finalized package of progressive priorities to address "human infrastructure" like paid family leave.

Another bill on next week's agenda before the House departs for a two-week recess would make reforms to enhance the protections of inspectors general, such as requiring they only be removed for cause and that Congress be notified before an inspector general is removed from their duties. The legislation is in response to a period last year in which former President TrumpDonald TrumpFive takeaways from the Ohio special primaries Missouri Rep. Billy Long enters Senate GOP primary Trump-backed Mike Carey wins GOP primary in Ohio special election MORE dismissed the inspectors general of five executive branch departments over roughly six weeks.

"This legislation is sorely needed in the wake of the prior administration's assault on the rule of law and independent oversight," House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) said on the House floor on Friday.