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House Votes to Remove 'Grotesque' Confederate Statues from Display in U.S. Capitol

People logo People 6/30/2021 Sean Neumann
Roger B. Taney sitting in a box: J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock Statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney © Provided by People J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock Statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney

A year after a similar effort stalled in the Senate, the House of Representatives on Tuesday again voted in favor of removing all Confederate statues from public display at the U.S. Capitol.

a person sitting in a box: Statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney © J Scott Applewhite/AP/Shutterstock Statue of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney

The measure received a 285-120 vote from House lawmakers, with all the "no" votes coming from Republicans and every Democrat and 67 Republicans voting in favor of the bill.

The legislation, which now heads to the Senate, would remove all statues honoring Confederate figures from being publicly displayed inside the Capitol.

The measure was introduced by Rep. Steny Hoyer, a Democratic lawmaker who celebrated the bill's bipartisan support after it passed on Tuesday.

"Today's vote was a vote to uphold the principles of equality and justice that our nation was founded on," Hoyer, 82, tweeted. "Hate, racism, & bigotry have no place here."

The bill's fate in the Senate is less clear: It would require 60 votes, including from 10 Republicans, to overcome a filibuster.

Among the statues that would be replaced, for example, would be a bust of former Supreme Court Justice Roger Brooke Taney. 

Lawmakers voting in favor of the bill say they would like to replace the Taney bust with a statue of Thurgood Marshall, who was the first Black justice on the Supreme Court.


Video: Senate set to vote on removing Confederate statues from Capitol (NBC News)

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Taney infamously delivered the ruling in 1857's Dred Scott v. Sandford, in which the court found that Black people in the U.S. could not be considered citizens — a ruling that was met with widespread denunciation.

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a sculpture of a man: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Statue of Jefferson Davis © Provided by People Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Statue of Jefferson Davis

"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 new bill reads.

Another statue at the center of the debate is of Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy, which is on display inside Statuary Hall.

Democratic lawmakers gave passionate speeches on the House floor before the bill passed, according to NPR.

"My ancestors built this building," Rep. Karen Bass said. "Imagine how they would feel, knowing that more than 100 years after slavery was abolished in this country, we still paid homage to the very people that betrayed this country in order to keep my ancestors enslaved."

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The bill, if passed by the split Senate, would call on officials to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol within 45 days and return them to the home state they represent in the building, NPR reports.

The states the statues are from can then replace the removed-busts with other historical figures they would like to honor instead.

"The halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

"The statues that we display should embody our highest ideals as Americans, expressing who we are and who we aspire to be as a nation," Pelosi, 81, added. "Monuments to men, or people who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to those ideals."

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