House votes to remove Confederate statues from U.S. Capitol

The aftershocks of the police killing of George Floyd continued to wash over Capitol Hill on Wednesday, as a bipartisan majority in the House voted to remove from U.S. Capitol public display a series of statues sent by southern states to honor the leaders of the Confederacy and other supporters of slavery.

"Traitors have a place, but not in a place of honor," said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), who noted that his home state still has on display at the U.S. Capitol a statue of Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy.

"If he had won the war - as President - none of us of color would be in this institution today," Thompson said.

“But thank God, he lost, and the South lost,” said the Mississippi Democrat.

“These painful symbols of bigotry and racism have no place in public spaces,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA). “Certainly they should not be enshrined inside the United States Capitol.”

“It’s time for an update in the US Capitol to honor those who fought for the “United” States, instead of against it,” said Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL).

The eleven statues to be removed would include Jefferson Davis, sent by the state of Mississippi, the Vice President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens (sent by Georgia), and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee (sent by Virginia).

Other statues and busts would also be removed from the Capitol, including famed slavery supporter Sen. John C. Calhoun of South Carolina, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who authored the notorious Dred Scott decision.

“This opinion is regarded as possibly the Supreme Court’s worst decision of all time,” said Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).

All of the votes against the bill came from Republicans in the House. All 232 Democrats voted for the measure.

Both House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy R-CA and House GOP Whip Steve Scalise R-LA voted to remove the statues.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where it faces an uphill fight.

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