Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he’s fine with bumping a statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis from his home state’s Capitol.
McConnell was asked by reporters today if, in the wake of the Confederate flag controversy, certain statues representing state histories should be reviewed in the nation’s Capitol.
“Well, with regard to my own state, we curiously enough have a statue of Jefferson Davis in the capital in Frankfurt. Davis’ sole connection to Kentucky was he was born there,” McConnell said.
“So I think it’s appropriate certainly in Kentucky to be talking about the appropriateness of continuing to have Jefferson Davis’ statue in a very prominent place in our state capital. Maybe a better place for that would be the Kentucky History Museum, which is also in the state capital,” he added.
“With regard to all the statues in this — in this building, I honestly don’t — I’m not aware of what we have and what we don’t have.”
The Jefferson Davis figure in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall was put there by Mississippi. In addition to be a member of Congress, the Confederate leader was also secretary of war.
The base of the Davis statue on the University of Texas at Austin campus was spray-painted overnight with “black lives matter” and “bump all the chumps.”
“Tomorrow, I plan to announce a committee of students, faculty members and alumni that will discuss the future of the Jefferson Davis statue and provide a range of options for me to review,” UT president Greg Fenves said in a statement today.
“I have asked Dr. Gregory Vincent, vice president for Diversity and Community Engagement, to chair the committee. I deeply understand the concerns of our students who have raised this issue. I have been working closely with them to consider the range of options that recognize the impact this statue has on our students and the need for us to understand and learn from our history.”
Wiping Jefferson Davis from the Beltway could get trickier. Jefferson Davis Highway is a major artery that snakes through Arlington, past the Pentagon and along the Potomac.
“The problem we have with most of the statues in the Capitol Complex is that there’s a law that says — as I understand it, I think I understand it — it says each state is entitled to statues and two statues only. And so that really is up to the states,” Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters today.
“Now I think that it would be important that we look at some of the statues that are here, not as a result of what the states have done, but what others do. And we’re going to take a look at that. But other than that, I think that we need to make sure the states understand who they have here.”
Reid says he wants late Sen. Pat McCarran (D-Nev.), a fervent anti-communist, to get the heave-ho from Statuary Hall. “I think he should be put out to pasture someplace, the statue,” Reid said. “He doesn’t represent the things that I think our country stands for, and certainly what Nevada doesn’t stand for. So the statues are important, they really send a message.”