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D.C. Pushes For Representation In Statuary Hall; Triggers Controversy

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By Manuel Quinones

The District of Columbia has moved closer to having statues of two of its historic citizens placed in National Statuary Hall at the Capitol alongside others from 50 states. But it didn't go all that smoothly as Democratic Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton's bill drew fire from California.

The District’s effort to place statues of two of its luminaries, abolitionist Frederick Douglass and architect Pierre L'Enfant, in Statuary Hall triggered a controversy.

California Republican Dan Lungren says the move is a step toward giving the District full voting rights. That’s because similar legislation would give other territories, like Puerto Rico and Guam, the right to place only one statue in the Capitol.

“It is, in my judgment, trying to show there is an equality between the District of Columbia and the other states,” says Lungren.

The House Administration Committee voted against Lungren’s amendment to limit the District to one statue. Delegate Holmes Norton says it’s surprising the length to which Republicans will go to diminish the status of District residents.

“These are national heroes that everybody should welcome to the Capitol,” says Holmes-Norton.

Democratic leaders promised a full House vote on the bill. But the legislation’s fate is uncertain in the Senate. Meanwhile, the statues of Douglass and L’Enfant are on display at One Judiciary Square.

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