House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced Thursday the introduction of a bill intended to protect statues and monuments from damage and destruction by protesters and vandals.
The California Republican’s legislation would withhold some federal funds from state and local governments whose officials fail to act to protect the monuments from the vandalism.
“Public monuments are indispensable, because they tell the American story. It is wrong to erase our history,” McCarthy told The Daily Caller, which first reported his intention to introduce the legislation.
Reps. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, and Sam Graves, R-Mo., have signed onto the bill, the Protect America’s Statues Act of 2020.
“We should be learning from [history],” McCarthy said. “Instead, left-wing mobs in cities across the country are destroying statues of General [Ulysses S.] Grant, St. [Junipero] Serra, Christopher Columbus, and abolitionists.
“This is lawlessness in its purest and most unacceptable form,” he added.
McCarthy said that many state and local officials aren’t doing their jobs, adding that “too many liberal mayors and governors won’t restore order or arrest the rioters, the most basic duties of government.”
In the weeks since the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, protesters have torn down or attempted to tear down statues of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee; Grant, the Union general who later became president; and even Presidents George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, among others.
McCarthy’s legislation directs the attorney general to designate any state or local government or other jurisdiction as an “ineligible entity” for certain federal funds “if they enact laws, regulations, policies, or procedures that contravene the Veterans’ Memorial Preservation and Recognition Act (18 USC 1369) or the Anti-Riot Act (18 USC 2101),” according to The Daily Caller.
It mandates that a list of those ineligible entities be provided to Congress within 30 days and prevents the secretary of transportation from signing off on applications from ineligible entities for federal grants for transit capital investment.
It also would direct the secretary of the interior to take back 75% of any historic preservation grants awarded to an ineligible entity and would prevent the secretary from giving any subsequent grants to offending entities.