Members of Congress are calling for Confederate figures to be removed from the U.S. Capitol.
In a letter, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Pelosi told a House-Senate committee with jurisdiction over the controversial topic that Confederate statues “pay homage to hate, not heritage. They must be removed."
Pelosi made the announcement on the very day President Donald Trump vowed on Twitter that he would not rename military bases honoring Confederate generals.
Pelosi lacks the authority to order the removal of the 11 statues honoring Confederates but is urging the little-noticed Joint Committee on the Library to vote to remove them.
Past efforts to remove the statues have failed, in part because it’s the states that approve which statues to place in the Capitol and some have been resistant to change.
Virginia has one of them: A statue of Robert E. Lee. The state legislature approved a new law to remove it this year, but a commission must meet first to decide on a replacement and likely won’t do so before December.
“That statue of Robert E. Lee is in the crypt, and every single tour that goes through the Capitol goes through the crypt — that’s where they all originate and start — so I don’t think that should be the message Virginia is sending to America,” said Rep. Jennifer Wexton, D-Va.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said he wants the statues removed, too.
“The individuals who are being honored in those statues, in effect, fought to kept people enslaved,” he said. “I don’t think that’s something we ought to honor in America.”
Hoyer has also introduced a bill to remove a bust of Maryland native Roger Taney from the Capitol grounds. Taney authored the decision in the Dred Scott case, which denied the enslaved Scott his freedom.