House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drew a distinction Thursday for honoring American founders such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and removing statues of Confederates from Capitol Hill.
Mrs. Pelosi, California Democrat, said the criteria for taking down honorary memorials includes acts of treason against the United States, such as fighting for the Confederacy.
“I do believe that if people have committed treason against the United States of America, their statues should not be in the Capitol,” she told reporters. “It’s not about Washington and Jefferson. … It’s about the president of the Confederacy, whose statue is still up there, who committed treason.”
Mrs. Pelosi has led the charge on Capitol Hill to remove Confederate statues and portraits as the country engages in a renewed debate about its original reliance on slavery and icons of American history tied to racism.
Several statues and monuments of historical figures have been vandalized or pulled down across the country, and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson have come under fire for owning slaves.
Last month, Mrs. Pelosi requested that 11 Confederate statues be taken down, including those of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, the respective president and vice president of the Confederacy. The House will also act on legislation to remove those statues that remain in the Capitol.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has dismissed the calls to remove the statues as an attempt to “airbrush” the Capitol and said that the decision was ultimately up to the states, which Mrs. Pelosi has acknowledged.
President Trump is attempting to crack down on those destroying statues, signing an executive order protecting U.S. monuments and calling for prison terms of up to 10 years for damage to federal property.