A bill coming to the House floor today to establish a commission to study the creation of a National Women’s History Museum has heated conservative opposition, but a conservative as a co-sponsor.
The legislation from Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) was passed on voice vote out of the House Administration Committee a month ago.
“A National Women’s History Museum will tell the stories of women’s contributions to this great country without spending a dime of taxpayer funds,” Maloney said. “It’s great to see this legislation moving quickly through Congress with the support of leaders in both parties.”
Blackburn, said to be flirting with the idea of a 2016 presidential run, said the museum would be about “bringing together women and remembering those visionaries that came before us to change the course of history — something that is long overdue.”
Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) stressed the commission “would be paid for and maintained entirely with private funds,” and could formulate a plan for the museum that would be “an important step towards memorializing America’s memory of the deep and enduring contributions women have made.” It could be part of the Smithsonian family.
The bill currently has 98 co-sponsors, including Republicans Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Scott Rigell (R-Va.), and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D), who was planning to speak on the floor in favor of the bill after noon, noted that she “tried for years” to move a women’s history museum bill through Congress.
“I expect this bill for a commission study of a museum to have better success because it follows the model we used to get the African American History Museum, now under construction,” Norton said. “In our city, which has many notable museums, the absence of a National Women’s Museum stands out at a time when the transformation of the roles of women makes it important that we understand and appreciate women’s contributions to the nation’s history.”
Heritage Action announced it would score the vote. “While the idea of honoring the great female leaders of American History is noble and shared by all, the museum itself has been a source of controversy since its founding in 1996 and the current bill is opposed by Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List and Concerned Women for America (CWA),” the PAC noted.
SBA wants Republican legislators to vote “no” until the bill “includes guarantees that it can accurately tell the history of public figures like suffragists and Margaret Sanger.”
“#HR863 plans to create a commission to study the creation of a liberal-leaning National Women’s History Museum. I will oppose this,” tweeted Texas Rep. Steve Stockman (R).
The New Republic noted that the women’s history museum project was moving forward without any historians on staff.