Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., blocked a bill presented by Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who requested unanimous consent to remove confederate statues from the Capitol Thursday.
“I ask unanimous consent the Rules Committee be discharged from further consideration of [Bill] S.3957 and the Senate proceed to its immediate consideration,” Booker said on the Senate floor.
The bill called for the removal of all statues of individuals that voluntarily fought for the Confederacy from the U.S. Capitol building.
Currently 11 statues of Confederate generals and leaders are placed in the Capitol’s National Statuary Hall, where each state is permitted to place up to two statues of its choosing.
Booker said to the existence of the statues in the Capitol was a “painful, insulting, difficult injury.”
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“The continued presence of these statues in the halls is an affront to African Americans and the ideals of our nation,” Booker said.
Blunt blocked the bill from passing by unanimous consent and said “I’d certainly like to have some time to decide if we should have a hearing on this.”
Blunt said he wanted to “get the opinion of people who are taking similar statues out of the building” and to “find out what other states have in mind as their part of this agreement.”
He noted that states had previously entered into an agreement with Congress over the statues, adding, “Now, we can do away with that program. We could do a lot of things. But we’ve entered into that agreement.”
Blunt said he wanted to consider whether or not there should be a hearing in the Rules Committee, which he chairs.
“Candidly, I don’t think it would be too imposing to ask our states not to send statues of people who actively fought against this country,” Schumer said Thursday. “You know, there is a reason that Connecticut doesn’t send a statue of Benedict Arnold.”
Schumer also took to Twitter to voice his disappointment over the senator’s objection.
“We need to dismantle institutional racism piece by piece, brick by brick, statue by statue, starting with the people’s house—the nation’s Capitol. But Senate Republicans objected,” Schumer tweeted Thursday.
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Congressional Democrats have been pushing for the removal of statues and retitling military bases named for Confederate figures, which President Trump has said he ardently opposes.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also had four portraits of former Confederate Speakers of the House removed this week.
“There’s no room in the hallowed halls of this democracy, this temple of democracy, to memorialize people who embody violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy,” Pelosi told reporters at a press conference Thursday.
“To appropriately observe Juneteenth this year, I write today to request the immediate removal of the portraits in the U.S. Capitol of four previous Speakers who served in the Confederacy: Robert Hunter of Virginia (1839-1841), Howell Cobb of Georgia (1849-1851), James Orr of South Carolina (1857-1859), and Charles Crisp of Georgia (1891-1895),” Pelosi wrote to House Clerk Cheryl Johnson requesting the portraits be removed.
“The portraits of these men are symbols that set back our nation’s work to confront and combat bigotry,” she added.
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