I reported last month on a House appropriations bill for the Department of the Interior—HR-7608—that would require the National Park Service, within 180 days of enactment, to “remove from display all physical Confederate commemorative works, such as statues, monuments, sculptures, memorials, and plaques, as defined by NPS, Management Policies 2006, 9.6.1.”
On July 24, 2020, the bill passed the House and, on July 30, 2020, was received by the Senate and referred to the Senate’s Appropriations Committee. (You can follow subsequent action on the bill here.)
The appropriations bill has stirred up much controversy in the Civil War community, so I’ve been following its progress closely. Thus far, here’s what I’ve been able to discern from my contacts on Capitol Hill (and yes, as a former journalist, I do have them!):
According to sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the bill as it now stands is D.O.A in the Senate, which has been the case for ALL House appropriations this year. For the first time in 35 years, the Senate hasn’t marked up a single appropriations bill.
With the COVID-19 relief bill sucking up so much political oxygen, the legislative year heading into the home stretch, and an election looming, the current sense on the Hill is that Congress will pass a series of continuing resolutions (CRs) to fund the government at its current levels rather than descend into political wrangling over specific appropriations. As a result, HR-7608 would not get passed.
“This isn’t going anywhere this year,” one source told me. “We are more worried about this coming up again next year, than it going anywhere this year.”
For additional perspective on the issue of monuments on national battlefields, see Gary Gallagher’s editorial for the upcoming issue of Civil War Times, available online now.