National Women's History Museum Being Blocked by Two Republican Senators
A bill is languishing in the U.S. Senate that, if passed, could lead to the creation of a National Women's History Museum on or near the National Mall in Washington, D.C. But two Republican senators are standing in the way.
Before a strategy session with some of New York's most powerful women,including City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and actress and advocate Kathleen Turner, the group spoke to reporters.
"It grieves me to tell you that at this moment the big step towards making history in making the National Women's History Museum a reality is on hold because two Republican men put a hold on having a vote on the bill," New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney said.
The National Women's History Museum bill, which Maloney authored in a bipartisan effort with Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., has been stopped dead in its tracks because Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma are preventing the bill from going to the floor for an up or down vote.
"They said no to a project that would not use any federal funds because they said they are worried that in the future there might be some federal funds spent somewhere, somehow. And I would say they have some nerve," Maloney said.
The bipartisan bill, HR 863, already passed the House of Representatives overwhelmingly with a vote of 383 to 33.
The bill would create a national commission to prepare a report containing recommendations for establishing and maintaining a National Women's History Museum. The eight member commission would have 18 months to produce a report and submit it to Congress for approval. The commission would analyze the costs to construct the museum, its operations and maintenance, acquiring its collections in perpetuity without reliance on federal funds. The commission would also study the Museum's effect on regional women's history-related museums and whether or not it should be part of the Smithsonian Institution.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the commission and the museum would have no significant impact on federal funding as the bill authorized the commission to raise private money to cover its costs, and a 501c3 organization is already raising the funds necessary to pay for the commission.
Maloney told The New York Times in March she first proposed the project in the late 1990s, and while there other museums devoted to women in particular fields like the arts, there is not one that chronicles "the overall contribution of women in politics, civic life, war, science and other fields."
Maloney said there is not much time left in this legislative session, adding, "We are going to do everything we can over the next four months to change their minds and get this bill passed."
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