Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday tore into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) following her call to remove 11 statues representing Confederate figures from the U.S. Capitol.
Last week, Pelosi urged the removal of nearly a dozen statues in the Capitol paying tribute to Confederate figures in a letter sent to the leadership of the Joint Committee on the Library. Pelosi wrote that statues in the Capitol “should embody our highest ideals as Americans” and that monuments of men linked to the Confederacy must be removed “immediately.” The House Speaker issued her request as efforts to take down monuments linked to racism grow in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
McConnell rejected her demand a week later, telling reporters on Tuesday afternoon that Pelosi’s request to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol is an effort to “airbrush” history.
“What I do think is clearly a bridge too far is this nonsense that we need to airbrush the Capitol and scrub out everybody from years ago who had any connection to slavery,” McConnell said, before mentioning that eight former presidents owned slaves. “Look, as far as the statues are concerned, every state gets two. Any state can trade out, as Sen. (Roy) Blunt (R-MO) pointed out, if they choose to. And some actually are choosing to.”
McConnell’s latest remarks regarding Confederate statues in the Capitol echo sentiments that he and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) shared last week. McConnell told reporters that “the appropriate way to deal with the statue issue” is for states to “make that decision.”
However, McConnell on Tuesday afternoon expressed more openness to renaming military bases honoring Confederate generals, unlike President Trump who tweeted last week that he will “not even consider” changing bases.
“If it’s appropriate to take another look at these names, I’m personally OK with that — and I am a descendant of a Confederate veteran myself,” McConnell said. “With regard to military bases, whatever is ultimately decided, I don’t have a problem with.”
McConnell’s willingness to rename bases paying tribute to Confederate generals comes two days after Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said during an ABC News interview that he would support the move.
On Sunday, Lankford told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that “there are lots of great leaders, military leaders” nationwide who “we can continue to be able to honor and continue to be able to put names forward.”
Watch McConnell’s remarks below: