The House voted 285 to 120 on Tuesday evening to remove statues of Confederate leaders and other proponents of slavery from the U.S. Capitol. A bust of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, a slave owner who infamously wrote the opinion in 1857's Dred Scott v Sanford, would also be replaced in the Capitol's Old Supreme Court Chamber with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black justice on the Supreme Court.
"Symbols of slavery, sedition, and segregation have no place in the halls of Congress," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), a sponsor of the legislation.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) were among the 67 Republicans who voted in favor of the bill, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the No. 3 House Republican, was among the 120 Republicans who voted no. McCarthy noted that "all the statues being removed by this bill are of Democrats," and House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) pointed out in return that all the pro-segregation Democrats switched parties after the Civil Rights Act, flagging the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) as an example.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it would need 10 Republican votes to beat a filibuster. After the House passed a similar measure last year, 305 to 113, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), then majority leader, did not bring it up for a vote, saying it was up to states to decide the fate of the statues.
Seven of the 12 Confederate statutes are in the Capitol's National Statuary Hall collection, and Congress doesn't have the authority to replace them — since 1864, each state has sent two statues to be included in the collection, and the states have to be the ones to replace them. The House bill would instruct the architect of the Capitol to remove the statues from public view until states send replacements. It specifically mentioned Charles B. Aycock, John C. Calhoun, and James P. Clarke, slavery supporters contributed by North Carolina, South Carolina, and Arkansas, respectively.
Arkansas has already passed a law that will eventually replace Clarke and its second statue, Uriah M. Rose, with statues of Johnny Cash and civil rights activist Daisy Bates, while North Carolina has announced plans to replace Aycock with a statue of Rev. Billy Graham. Virginia has recalled its statue of Robert E. Lee, the top Confederate general.