Updated, 3:40 p.m., 2/12/20 with comments from Rep. Amash’s office:
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash (I-Cascade Twp.) was the only member of Michigan’s 14-member U.S. House delegation not to bless a new Smithsonian women’s history museum.
The U.S. House overwhelmingly voted Tuesday to OK HR 1980, 374-37. The bill establishes a museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that it would cost $375 million over a decade to build.
“Women’s history is an important part of our nation’s history and should be fully incorporated into the Smithsonian’s offerings, but there are too many questions remaining about this proposal that the bill doesn’t adequately address,” Amash spokeswoman Poppy Nelson said.*
“No hearings were held; there have been disagreements between the congressional commission and the Smithsonian about the museum’s size and likely cost; there’s concern about the political leanings of some organizations involved; and recent testimony from the head of the Smithsonian casts serious doubt on the Smithsonian’s capacity to complete and maintain a new museum at this time. These are issues Congress should resolve before proceeding with any project of this scale and significance.”*
A bipartisan group of 10 Michigan lawmakers were co-sponsors: U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield), Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.), Dan Kildee (D-Flint), Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly), Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit), Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills), Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet) and Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden).
Lead sponsors of the bill, Lawrence, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), issued a statement:
“For too long, women’s history has been left out of the telling of our nation’s history. Today, the House of Representatives took an important first step to change that. Women are part of every American moment, and their contributions should be recognized and celebrated. By creating a Smithsonian museum dedicated to telling American women’s history, we can inspire future generations to make history themselves. Representation matters. Let’s make sure that every child can see themselves in their heroes and role models. We will be working together to ensure swift Senate passage of this bill.”
Companion legislation in the U.S. Senate has not moved.