WASHINGTON, DC -- Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) today introduced bipartisan legislation which would establish a National Museum of Women's History on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The legislation authorizes the General Services Administration to sell property located at 12th and Independence to a nonprofit organization which would raise the funds to build and operate the museum.
"The 235 years of our nation's history are replete with women who have been trailblazers-- from Abigail Adams to Kristi Yamaguchi-- but there is no single institution dedicated to chronicling half our population's stories. Our sons and daughters need to know those stories," Maloney said. "Of the 210 statues in the U.S. Capitol, only nine are of women; of the 2,400 national historic landmarks in the country, only five percent document women's achievements. So a National Women's History Museum that will celebrate, honor and document the roles women have played in American life is long overdue."
"It's a sad coincidence that my mentor, Geraldine Ferraro, died the week we planned to reintroduce this legislation. Hers is just one story that the museum will honor--along with Jeanette Rankin, the first woman elected to the U.S. House; Hattie Wyatt Caraway, the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate, and Margaret Chase Smith, the first woman elected to both the House and the Senate!" Maloney said.
"Thanks to the generous support of private contributors all across the country, the dream of a national museum dedicated to honoring the contributions of American women is close to becoming a reality," said Biggert. "This is an exciting opportunity to create a permanent educational institution here in Washington that will serve as an inspiration to the millions of young women and girls who visit our nation's capital each year. I look forward to working with Rep. Maloney, Sen. Collins, and all of my colleagues to send this bill to the President's desk."
"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. And all this could be done at virtually no cost to taxpayers. The museum 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. It is a great use for an empty lot on our National Mall, and it makes good fiscal sense.
"It is important to note that taxpayers will not shoulder the funding of this project. The proposed legislation calls for no new federal program and no new claims on the budget. The bill would simply direct the General Services Administration to negotiate and enter into an occupancy agreement with the National Women's History Museum, Inc. to establish a museum on a tract of land near the Smithsonian Museums located at 12th Street, SW, and Independence Avenue, SW. In fact, the Museum would be putting dollars in the federal government's pocket in order to occupy this space because the transaction would be at a fair-market value for the land. This bill would be a win-win for the taxpayers and the Museum," Collins said.
House cosponsors include Rep. Sandy Adams (R-FL), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-CA), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL), Rep. Jean Schmidt (R-OH), Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA).
In the Senate, Sen. Barbara Boxer, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Sen. Barbara Mikulski are the primary cosponsors.