Top House Democrat hits Republicans over Confederate monument vote

Georgia Rep. Andrew Clyde proposed restoring the monument at Arlington cemetery

A day after 192 House Republicans voted to restore a Confederate monument to Arlington National Cemetery, the top Democrat in the U.S. House went after vulnerable GOP lawmakers in Congress, accusing them of trying to ‘turn back the clock’ on racial progress in America.

“What is the rationale?” asked Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries at a Friday news conference.

Jeffries called the Confederate monument plan from U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Athens, “shameful.”

“What exactly is the Confederate tradition that extreme MAGA Republicans in 2024 are upholding?” asked Jeffries. “Is it slavery? Rape? Kidnap? Jim Crow?”

Jeffries specifically named three Republicans from New York who hold seats in districts won by President Biden — Reps. Marc Molinaro, Anthony D’Esposito, and Brandon Williams — all of whom supported Clyde’s amendment to a defense policy bill.

Told of the criticism by Jeffries, Clyde scoffed at the attacks by Democrats.

“It is a reunification monument. It is a reconciliation monument,” Clyde told reporters. “It’s like calling an AR-15 an assault weapon. It is not.”

Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-GA, speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill on June 13, 2023. Clyde's proposal to restore a Confederate monument to Arlington National Cemetery was voted down by the House. (Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

icon to expand image

Credit: TNS

While Clyde called the Confederate monument a “powerful symbol of the healing and unification” of America after the Civil War, Democrats had a much different take as they described what was on the monument.

“An enslaved woman is depicted as a mammy,” said U.S. Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va.

“She is holding the infant child of a white officer, and an enslaved man is following his owner to war,” Beyer added. “It is very difficult to see how the humiliating portrayal of a slave woman and a slave man represents reconciliation.”

The effort by Clyde to restore the Confederate monument to Arlington was defeated Thursday by the House on a vote of 230-192.

Twenty-four Republicans — including U.S. Rep. Austin Scott, R-Tifton, broke ranks to defeat the move.

The Confederate monument was placed at Arlington in 1914. The Pentagon removed it last year, following a review by a commission which evaluated Confederate names and honors at military installations.

In making his case in recent weeks to return the memorial to Arlington National Cemetery, Clyde repeatedly referred to it as the ‘Reconciliation Monument,’ though there is no record of the cemetery using that name. Instead it is simply referred to as the “Confederate Monument.”