As the effort to remove the Confederate battle flag from the capitol grounds in South Carolina moves through the Palmetto State's Legislature this week, the effort to remove the emblem from the U.S. Capitol has stalled.
The resolution removing the Confederate battle flag, and thus the Mississippi state flag, from the U.S. Capitol was referred to the House Administration Committee in late June. But the committee's chairwoman, Candice S. Miller, R-Mich, appears poised to let the Mississippi state government take the lead. "The Chairman looks forward to hearing from all of Mississippi’s elected representatives regarding this resolution," a committee spokesperson wrote in an email Wednesday. "It is her personal observation after hearing comments made by some of Mississippi’s elected officials at the state level, and watching the action taken by the South Carolina legislature, that the people of Mississippi will most likely take up this issue and resolve it."
On June 25, the House voted along party lines to send Rep. Bennie Thomspon's resolution to House Administration, dodging a floor vote on the Mississippi Democrat's resolution to ban the Confederate battle flag from the Capitol. If approved, the resolution would bar the Mississippi state flag, which displays the battle flag in its upper-left corner, from the Capitol grounds, excluding member offices. A number of state and federal Mississippi officials, including both of the state's senators, have said the state's flag should be altered.
The movement to remove Confederate flags from government property followed the brutal murders of nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C., on June 18. With attention on Confederate symbols in the U.S. Capitol , Thompson took the opportunity to try and remove his state's flag, which he has historically opposed.
Thompson sent a letter Wednesday to Miller and the committee's ranking Democrat, Robert A. Brady of Pennsylvania, encouraging them to take "swift action" on his resolution.
"I am ready to appear before your committee at any time and will make my schedule accommodate any request on this important and pressing issue," Thompson wrote in the letter, obtained by CQ Roll Call. Thompson reiterated his position that the Confederate battle flag represents an "insurrectionist movement" and has no place in the House.
"I’m optimistic that the hearing will happen," Thompson said outside the House floor Tuesday night. "I’m cautiously optimistic that I’ll get a favorable vote.”
The House Administration spokesperson said Miller appreciated Thompson's letter and looked forward to hearing from all stakeholders. "Obviously, removing any state flag from our nation’s Capitol would be precedent setting, something which requires much thought, deliberation and input from all parties," the spokesperson wrote.
With a lengthy legislative to-do list ahead of the August recess, it is increasingly unlikely the House will address the resolution before the monthlong break. But Thompson did not seem concerned that the movement to remove the flag would lose momentum if it is not taken up before August.
"I’ve been patient quite a while and I am prepared to do whatever the committee decides," Thompson said. "If they don’t [act] then obviously I would join with allies around the country to elevate the conversation. And I wouldn’t think this Congress would want to be part of a conversation where they get blamed for not dealing with a symbol that’s so volatile as the Confederate battle flag.”
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