On November 5, the House passed, by voice vote, a bill (S. 2206) to extend to December 1, 2009, the deadline for the Joint Committee on the Library (JLC) to obtain a statue of civil rights leader Rosa Parks for display in the Capitol’s Statuary Hall. The Senate approved the bill on October 18. The JLC was unable to meet the deadline, because they lacked “the technical ability or resources to enter into contracts or pay for the statue,” according to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the bill’s sponsor. The new measure (S. 2206) would allow the Office of the Architect of the Capitol to act as an agent for the JLC.
Rep. Robert Brady (D-PA) said, “In November of 2005, this House passed Public Law 109-116, then H.R. 4145, which provided for the placement of a statue of Rosa Parks in the National Statuary Hall. Due to technical drafting errors, we failed to provide the architect of the Capitol with the resources necessary to acquire such a statue. The original bill set a deadline of December 1, 2007, for acquisition of the statue, and S. 2206 would extend the deadline for two years…It is imperative that we honor the memory of Rosa Parks in Statuary Hall as soon as possible. The House is in agreement today, as it was two years ago, that this is long overdue. Her contributions to the civil rights movement and to the historical record of this country deserve to be reflected in Statuary Hall.”
Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) said, “A tireless advocate for equality, Rosa Parks is best remembered for a single act of civil disobedience that would change the history of our nation. By refusing to move to the back of the bus in her native Alabama, to make room for white passengers, Mrs. Parks ignited passions on both sides of the civil rights movement. This led to the Montgomery bus boycott and helped to elevate the work of another great American of the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as an august member of this body, Congressman John Lewis [D-GA], who also participated and played a leading role in some of the demonstrations of that time. Even in her passing, Rosa Parks was a trailblazer as the first woman and only the second African American to lie in state in the Capitol rotunda.”