Georgia House committee approves bill to add John Lewis statue to U.S. Capitol

The effort to place a statue of the late Congressman John Lewis inside the U.S. Capitol took a step forward Wednesday afternoon.

The House State Properties Committee approved the measure by State Representative Al Williams, D-Midway, with only one dissenting vote.

"He speaks for what Georgia has become and is--very diverse, very welcoming state," said Rep. Williams of Lewis.

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The resolution would establish a "National Statuary Hall Collection Replacement Committee."  The group would be made up of eight members, including four appointed by the governor, two appointed by the lieutenant governor, and two by the speaker of the House.

Each state is allowed two statues inside Statuary Hall. Currently, Georgia is represented by Crawford Long and Alexander Hamilton Stephens. Williams' proposal would remove Stephens, who served as Vice President of the Confederacy, to make way for Lewis.

The replacement committee would be responsible for finding a new, suitable location back in Georgia for the statue of Stephens. Committee members would also select a sculptor for the Lewis statue, approve the design for the artwork and obtain private funding for the project.

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During Wednesday's hearing, some on the State Properties Committee said they had been contacted by constituents who questioned how Congressman Lewis was chosen over other Georgians.

"Certainly, Hank Aaron's name has come up a number of times as being an incredible unifier of the state," said Rep. Jodi Lott, R-Evans.  "I just wanted to put that out there.  I know from my community there is a real desire to see a statue change and that this is a great idea, but there is still consideration and maybe it's just my community, but they're not generally fans of promoting politicians."

Nevertheless, Rep. Williams said he remains optimistic about the bill's chances. 

"There's always pushback.  That's part of the process, but I still think that the resolution will pass," said Rep. Williams.

The bill now goes to the House Rules Committee, which will decide when it will be scheduled for a full House vote.

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