House GOP leader: 'States have the power' to remove Confederate statues from Capitol building now

Pelosi has called for the removal of statues honoring Confederate leaders from the Capitol building. 

Updated: June 12, 2020 - 12:09pm

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House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy said Thursday that states should decide whether to remove their Confederate statues from Capitol Hill instead of allowing chamber leaders to take action.

"When it comes to statues, states have the power to select who to come forward. When I was in the state legislature, we voted to change one of California's statues – it doesn't refer to anything Confederacy because California wasn't in that. But we added Ronald Reagan," he said during a press conference.

McCarthy, a California Republican, pointed out the statues that concern House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are a problem with her own Democratic Party. "They were voted upon in the legislature and brought here under Democrat majorities from Mississippi to the other states that she speaks about," he said. "States, unfortunately, when you look at the law governing the replacement of statues is 2 U.S. code 2132. I would encourage those legislatures to be able to change from the path of what they brought forth."

McCarthy said there's been "movement" in North Carolina to change one of the statues to Billy Graham.

"States have the power to do that," he said.

Pelosi has called for the removal of statues honoring Confederate leaders from the Capitol building. She suggested that the House could take action to remove them with legislation, in addition to renaming military bases named after Confederate leaders.

The Senate Armed Services Committee this week passed a defense budget that includes a provision that would create a commission to implement a plan to rename military bases named after Confederate leaders within three years after the bill's passage. McCarthy said "we'll see" what's inside the House version of the defense budget at a later date. 

"I'm not opposed to it though," he said.