The Mississippi flag, which incorporates the Confederate battle flag, will not return to one place of prominence in the U.S. Capitol complex.
The flag was removed from a tunnel between the Capitol and the Rayburn House Office Building last year after the killings of nine churchgoers by a white supremacist in a Charleston, S.C., church last year reignited critiques over the continued use of Confederate symbols.
Rep. Candice Miller (R-Mich.), chairman of the Committee on House Administration, said Thursday that the flag — along with the flags of the 49 other states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories — would not return following a renovation. Replacing them, she said, will be “a reproduction of the commemorative quarters issued by the U.S. Mint.”
Mississippi’s state quarter, issued in 2002, depicts a pair of magnolia blossoms.
Miller, who is retiring from Congress, cited the controversy for making the change: “I am well aware of how many Americans negatively view the Confederate flag, and, personally, I am very sympathetic to these views. However, I also believe that it is not the business of the federal government to dictate what flag each state flies.”
The Mississippi flag continues to fly on the Senate side of the Capitol complex, in a tunnel near the Dirksen office building. While there has been a new push in Mississippi to change the flag since Charleston, there is no sign that change is coming soon. Flag bills died this year in the state legislature, and a federal lawsuit challenging the Confederate symbolism could continue for years.
Miller’s decision will not prevent members of the Mississippi House delegation from displaying the state’s flag outside their offices. Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson does not currently display the flag outside his office, and it was Thompson who brought forth legislation that brought matters to a head.
In the days after the Charleston tragedy in June, Thompson went to the House floor to call for immediate passage of a resolution barring “any state flag containing any portion of the Confederate battle flag … from any area within the House wing of the Capitol or any House office building.”
On a party-line vote, the bill was instead referred to Miller’s committee.