The District doesn’t get many victories in Congress, but the city scored an important symbolic win Wednesday as the Senate approved a measure to put a statue of abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass in the Capitol. With the House having passed the bill Monday, it now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.
The 50 states have statues of two luminaries apiece in the Capitol, mostly in Statuary Hall. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and other local officials have long sought the same honor for the District, but their effort had been stymied by unrelated debates over gun laws and voting rights. The Douglass statue and one of architect Pierre L’Enfant have been sitting at One Judiciary Square awaiting resolution of the issue.
The compromise measure set to become law, allowing one statue, was authored by Rep. Dan Lungren (R-Calif.) and backed by Norton. The Senate version, offered by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), passed that chamber by unanimous consent Wednesday.
In a statement, Norton praised Lungren, Schumer and other lawmakers who helped the effort, but made clear the story isn’t over.
“D.C. residents pay more than their share of federal taxes, and are entitled to have two statues in the Capitol, like every state,” Norton said. “Our other statue, of Pierre L’Enfant, the man who planned the city of Washington itself, remains on display at One Judiciary Square, and I will continue to fight to bring that statue into the Capitol, as well.”