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House tries again on removing Confederate statues

Analysis by Lauren Dezenski, CNN

Congress is trying again Tuesday on removing Confederate statues from the US Capitol.

The House is expected to vote on a resolution to expel Confederate statues and replace the Capitol’s bust of Roger B. Taney, the chief justice who wrote the Dred Scott decision, with one honoring Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Supreme Court justice.

While there is bipartisan support for the measure, debate ahead of the vote wasn’t exactly harmonious.

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said he supports removing the statues, though he noted, “All of the statues being removed by this bill are statues of Democrats.” Rep. Steny Hoyer later responded to GOP criticism of the Democratic Party’s history: “My party was the segregationist party,” the Maryland Democrat said. “And my party decided that we did not want to be that party. … That is a decision we made consciously.”

The House legislation would not only replace Taney’s bust in the old Supreme Court chamber and remove statues of those who voluntarily served the Confederacy against the United States in the Civil War, but also would oust statues of three elected officials who defended slavery, segregation and White supremacy: John C. Calhoun, Charles Aycock and James P. Clarke.

The House approved a similar measure last summer, as the nation began a racial reckoning in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Around the country, a number of Confederate statues were removed. One tally from the Southern Poverty Law Center found more than 160 Confederate symbols came down in 2020.

A June 2020 Quinnipiac University poll found 52% of Americans supported removing Confederate statues from public spaces around the country, while 44% were opposed — the first time a majority of Americans supported removal.

Next, the real development will happen in the Senate. The GOP-controlled chamber in 2020 didn’t take up the bill, effectively killing it. Now, under the narrow Democratic Senate majority, its chances of reaching President Joe Biden’s desk and becoming law are much greater.

The Point: Thanks to bipartisan support and shifting attitudes, it appears much likelier that Confederate statues will be removed from the US Capitol this time around.

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CNN’s Alex Rogers contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: cnn-opinion

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