The Source

House Subcommittee Examines Women’s History Museum Bill

On March 25, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on several bills, including the Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Women’s History Museum Act (H.R. 863). The House Administration Committee held a hearing on the bill in December 2013 (see The Source, 12/13/13). The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), would establish a commission that would report to Congress and the president regarding its recommendations for a women’s history museum.

Speaking in support of the bill, Joan Wages, president and chief executive officer, National Women’s History Museum, said, “The establishment of a feasibility commission is the first step. There is precedence for a commission of this kind. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of the American Latino had congressional commissions and provided similar reports to Congress, including site recommendations for their permanent homes.” Ms. Wages concluded by saying, “There is no world-class women’s history museum in any nation’s capital in the world. A museum established under the auspices of this commission would be the first in any nation to show the full scope of the history of its women, thereby serving as a beacon to people everywhere.”

While the National Park Service does not oppose the creation of the museum, Bob Vogel, superintendent, National Mall and Memorial Parks urged the committee to amend the bill so that it complies with the Commemorative Works Act (P.L. 107-217) and so that additional location sites may be considered: “We recommend amending the bill by deleting this specific location as a potential site for the museum. There are a number of sites within the monumental core that are worthy of consideration for a museum of this importance, as identified in the Monumental Core Framework Plan, which notes preferred sites for new museums.”

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said, “The women’s museum project has already had generous support from private donors, and they are willing to move forward to make it happen, and this hearing is a good step. It lays out how this bill would have a commission of eight members chosen equally by the leadership in both parties of the House and Senate who have demonstrated their commitment to the study of women’s history…As we continue to discuss this bill and the steps forward, I look forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions, and working to make this a reality.”

In a press release, Rep. Maloney said, “A National Women’s History Museum will tell the stories of women’s contributions to this great country without spending a dime of taxpayer funds,” said Rep. Maloney. “We now have the support of both the Republican and Democratic leaders, both committees – House Administration and House Natural Resources – have their hearings, and we have a commitment from the Majority Leader [Eric Cantor (R-VA)] that the legislation will receive a vote on the floor this year. I’m thrilled to see both Democrats and Republicans uniting behind the bill.”