Wasserman Schultz Wants Special Session in Florida Over Confederate Statue

Democratic members of Florida’s congressional delegation join effort

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., wants a special legislative session in Florida to remove Confederate monuments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., wants a special legislative session in Florida to remove Confederate monuments. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 31, 2017 at 8:14am

Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is pushing for the removal of tributes to Confederate leaders in the Capitol and in her district.

The former Democratic National Committee chairwoman called for a special session in Florida’s state legislature to replace the statue of Confederate Gen. Edmund Kirby Smith in the U.S. Capitol’s National Statuary Hall.

Wasserman Schultz was joined by the state’s other congressional Democrats in sending a letter to Florida Gov. Rick Scott and the state’s House speaker and Senate president, asking that the legislature go into special session while it conducts its pre-session committee work.

“No family visiting our nation’s Capitol should have to explain to their child that the statue representing our state honors someone who fought for a philosophy built on hatred, inequality and oppression,” the letter said.

Scott and state House Speaker Richard Corcoran said they will not call a special session, but will instead leave it to be discussed in the 2018 legislative session.

The legislature voted in 2016 to remove the statue of Smith, but failed to reach an agreement on who should replace the former Confederate general.

Similarly, Wasserman Schultz has been among those pushing for streets in Hollywood, Florida, which is in her district, to change the names of streets named for Confederate leaders, Fox News reported.

Wednesday night, city commissioners in Hollywood approved changing the names of streets named for Robert E. Lee, John Bell Hood, and Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

The commissioners are set to meet again in one week to determine replacement names for the streets.

“Today we’re being asked to erase from our city’s maps symbols of men whose deeds symbolized hatred and bigotry for an entire race of people, who believed they should be kept in chains,” Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said, according to the Sun-Sentinel.

Rep. Ted Deutch, another Florida Democrat representing parts of Broward County, noted the pending action in Hollywood at a town hall meeting in Fort Lauderdale Wednesday. He expressed support for the changes and optimism that local officials would take action.

The push by Democrats to remove monuments to the Confederacy comes after racial violence earlier this month when white supremacists and neo-Nazis descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, to oppose the removal of a statue of Lee.