The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to form a Congressional Commission on the Potential Creation of a National Women's History Museum in Washington, DC. The bipartisan legislation (H.R. 863) passed by a vote of 383 to 33 and now heads to the Senate, where Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) are leading the charge.
"Women deserve their rightful recognition when the story of our nation is told, and after so many years of being ignored, only a National Women's History Museum in our nation's capital can do that," said Maloney. "This bill will establish a Congressional Commission to help secure that place. Women gained the right to vote in 1920. I hope that a century later, in 2020, their efforts and the accomplishments of women throughout our history will be chronicled in a museum that both our daughters and sons can learn from and enjoy. I am grateful for the leadership of Representative Blackburn, Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton, and for the support of the many Republicans and Democrats who worked together to pass this bill."
"This legislation takes an important step in our effort to recognize the accomplishments of women who have contributed to freedom and the promise of opportunity which we Americans cherish," Blackburn said. "This museum is about bringing together women and remembering those visionaries who changed the course of American history. All this would be done through private donations, and not one dime of taxpayer money. It is only appropriate that during the same week we celebrate mothers around the country for their contributions to our families, that my colleagues in the House would come together in this bipartisan effort to honor our nation's most influential women."
"I thank my good friend Carolyn for maintaining the determination she has shown since she first sponsored the bill," said Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). "Although the museum will be here in the District, Congresswoman Maloney has never wavered on understanding the importance of a National Women's History Museum in the nation's capital."
"A women's history museum is long overdue in the nation's capital," said Senator Collins. "It would be the first institution in the region that showcases the many important social, economic, cultural, and political contributions that women have made to our country. The museum, which will be built at no expense to the American taxpayer, would help ensure that future generations understand what we owe to the many generations of American women that helped build, sustain, and advance our society. I applaud House passage of this legislation and encourage Senate leaders to allow our bill to move forward."
"Women's history is American history," said Senator Mikulski, Dean of the Senate women. "Women have been trailblazers throughout our history, using grit, passion, and determination to seize the day and to make a difference. We must not only honor the past -- we must learn from it. A National Women's History Museum will be a fitting tribute to recognize their lasting legacy while inspiring future generations of women and girls."
The bill, H.R. 863, would establish a commission to prepare a report containing recommendations for establishing and maintaining a National Women's History Museum in Washington, D.C. The eight-member commission would have 18 months to produce the report and submit it to Congress for approval.
This bipartisan legislation passed with the support of Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and 100 bipartisan cosponsors. A similar bill in the Senate has been introduced by Senator Susan Collins and Senator Barbara Mikulski. It has 22 co-sponsors, including 18 of the Senate's 20 female lawmakers.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the commission and the museum would have no significant impact on federal spending. The bill authorizes the commission to accept and spend monetary gifts, and a 501(c)3 organization, National Women's History Museum (NWHM), is already raising the funds necessary to pay for the commission.
According to NWHM President & CEO Joan Wages, "We are forever indebted to Representatives Carolyn Maloney and Marsha Blackburn. Their commitment, courage and tireless efforts in support of a national women's history museum have been extraordinary, as is evidenced by today's successful vote. Their partnership on this effort demonstrates what has been true since this nation was founded -- women get things done! And, we get it done, despite our differences, by working together."
The bill was approved unanimously by both the House Natural Resources Committee on April 9, following a March 25 hearing, and the House Committee on Administration on April 2, following a December 11 hearing.