Rep. Liz Cheney, the House GOP conference chair, also rejected the idea.
The House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted on Tuesday to authorize the creation of the first national women's history museum in Washington, D.C. But 36 House Republicans and conservative Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI) voted against the bipartisan bill.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), the bill's sponsor, explained in a floor speech that such a museum was vital because, without recognition of women, there can be no empowerment.
"This is not about politics, it is not about partisanship, and it is not a Democrat or a Republican issue," she said. "It is an American issue recognizing the contributions of our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters. This is about giving all women our rightful place in history."
Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) observed that just 5% of the 2,400 national monuments in the United States honor women. "This bipartisan bill sends a message loud and clear that women deserve an entire museum," he told his colleagues.
"There are currently museums in Washington, DC for stamps, buildings, & spies — but not for half of the population. It's time to change that. I'm proud to support the Smithsonian Women's History Museum Act to tell and preserve the rich history of America's women," noted Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-AZ).
But the highest-ranking woman in the minority party's leadership, House Republican Conference Chair Liz Cheney, joined with a few dozen men in voting no.
Though none of the 37 opponents explained their rationale during the floor debate, a spokesperson for Cheney (R-WY) said in an email:
"Congresswoman Cheney represents Wyoming, where generations of women have demonstrated grit, determination, courage and leadership in building our great state. She believes women’s accomplishments deserve to be honored in an equal manner, alongside those of men, as part of our great national story."
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), another member who voted against the bill, was a bit of a surprise. Last July, he had actually signed on as a co-sponsor. His office did not immediately respond to an inquiry about his change of heart.
If enacted, the bill will create a council to recommend a plan to find a site, design the museum, and then construct it. The bill now moves onto the GOP-controlled Senate, where more than 400 pieces of legislation are already awaiting action.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.