WASHINGTON (AP) — Citing history textbooks, national parks and landmarks that mostly leave women out, lawmakers on Wednesday revived a long-stalled effort to create a National Women's History Museum in the nation's capital.
The Republican-controlled House voted 383-33 to create a bipartisan commission to study the feasibility of a museum on or near the National Mall and recommend whether it should be part of the Smithsonian. The vote came just before Mother's Day, which several lawmakers noted. A similar measure is pending in the Senate.
Congress has allowed previous legislation calling for a women's museum to die at least twice since 2005. The new bill would follow a process that was used for African-American and Latino-American museum proposals. The measure prohibits any federal funding for the museum's creation in order to draw more Republican support.
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Democratic Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, who have championed the effort, said the contributions of women have been mostly left out of museums, statues and national landmarks. Not enough is taught about women's history, they said, including details about how women gained the right to vote less than 100 years ago.
"It is a story that everyone should know, how the process of the suffragists and their work that carried them from Seneca Falls, New York, to Nashville where you finally saw the ratification of the 19th Amendment," Blackburn said. "These suffragists, they were conservative women who led this fight for women's equality."
A women's museum foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, has raised about $14 million and estimates it would cost about $400 million to build. An advisory board for the museum includes women ranging from Jenna Bush to Gloria Steinem.
In a survey of today's history textbooks, only one in 10 people in the texts are women, said Joan Wages, the president and CEO of the museum group. In national parks, less than 8 percent of the statues are women. Of more than 200 statues in the U.S. Capitol, only 15 women leaders are depicted.
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