The Congress has accomplished nearly nothing under Republican leadership in 2017, but one action they should unite on is the passage of H.R. 19, authorizing the construction of a National Women’s History Museum on the National Mall.
Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney of New York introduced the legislation authorizing the building of the museum on March 30, 2017. It was referred to a Subcommittee On Federal Lands on April 7, 2007, and no further action has yet been taken. There were 127 cosponsors with Maloney, and now an additional 100, for a total of 227, have been added to that list.
Maloney has tried to lobby personally with President Donald Trump, his wife Melania, his daughter Ivanka, Vice President Mike Pence’s wife Karen Pence, and Kelly Anne Conway. to join in support of the museum project, but one wonders what the odds of endorsement are from a President who is a known misogynist.
Despite earlier moves to get this legislation accomplished under President Barack Obama, it failed to be dealt with before he left office. In 2014, the Congress voted to create a commission to study the creation of a national museum, and now the time for action has arrived in this 115th Congress.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine introduced the Maloney bill in the Senate with 11 co-sponsors, but there is little enthusiasm evident to make such a museum part of the Smithsonian Institution, due to other priorities, and the issue of private funding being a long haul.
We are coming up to the centennial of women’s right to vote (19th Amendment) in 2020, and it would be appropriate that we were well on the way to the creation of such a building to honor the role of women, half of our population, which has been mostly ignored until now.
Ironically, though, the Republican Party has become so anti women’s rights, that they are likely to refuse to take action on this, as they work to undermine a woman’s right to an abortion; the right to equal pay; the right to be protected from sexual harassment; and the right to be treated as equals to men in all aspects of life.
Too often, the religious Right has worked against women’s equality, and the Republican Party, the party that many early women’s rights advocates supported in the 19th and 20th centuries, now has taken steps backward in their advocacy of equality.