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McConnell: Statues are up to the states

Pelosi requested Blunt and Lofgren to ask the Architect of the Capitol to “immediately take steps” to remove the statues.

The Senate GOP leader emphasized he’s on the same page as Blunt, who told reporters Thursday that in order to follow through on Pelosi’s request, Congress would need to change the law.

“The Congress could change any law they want to. If they want to change a law and say, ‘No we’re now going to decide what statues states can have,’ they can certainly do that,” Blunt said. “There’s no authority to move statues out of the Capitol short of that.”

Blunt noted that Congress passed a law in 1864 allowing states to have up to two statues. While Congress passed another law in 2000 that allowed statues to be moved around in the Capitol, Blunt said the law does not allow for the statues to be taken out of the Capitol without state input.

“If the speaker thinks that’s the law, the speaker’s wrong on that,” Blunt said.

The Missouri Republican, who also chairs the Senate Rules Committee, added that if the House were to pass legislation addressing the issue, he would be “glad to take it up.”

Pelosi’s letter Wednesday said statues in the Capitol should embody “our highest ideals as Americans” and that “monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals.”

The Confederate statues in the Capitol include monuments of Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens, president and vice president of the Confederacy, respectively.

John Bresnahan contributed to this report.

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