Two Democratic lawmakers have introduced legislation that would remove statues of people who voluntarily served the Confederate States of America from the U.S. Capitol.
Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) are sponsoring the bicameral bill that calls for the removal of the Confederate monuments from the National Statuary Hall within 120 days.
The bill has three additional sponsors in the Senate and 46 sponsors in the House.
“The National Statuary Hall Collection is intended to honor American patriots who served, sacrificed, or made tremendous contributions to our nation,” Booker said. “Those who committed treason against the United States of America and led our nation into its most painful and bloody war are not patriots and should not be afforded such a rare honor in this sacred space.”
The bill comes in response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last month, which resulted in the death of a counter protester, Lee said.
The group of white supremacists gathered to protest the removal of a Robert E. Lee statue in a Charlottesville park. Counter-protesters came to rally against the group and a man affiliated with the white supremacists allegedly drove his car through a crowd of counter protesters, killing a woman named Heather Heyer.
In the wake of the violent rally, Lee said it is “abundantly clear that much work remains to root out racism from our society.”
“Across the country, Confederate statues and monuments pay tribute to white supremacy and slavery in public spaces. These hateful symbols should have no place in our society and they certainly should not be enshrined in the U.S. Capitol,” she said.
The Statuary Hall in the Capitol was created in 1864 and allowed each state to pick two people to memorialize with statues there.
Under Booker and Lee’s bill, coined the Confederate Monument Removal Act, states would be allowed to take back their statues or they will be given to the Smithsonian, according to a statement from Booker’s office.