Advance Notice: Briefs

Amash is only Michigan vote against Smithsonian women’s museum

By: - February 12, 2020 2:42 pm

Washington Memorial, Washington, D.C. | Susan J. Demas

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.

U.S. Rep. Justin Amash at Common Ground Coffee in Grand Rapids | Nick Manes

“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).

U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence | Andrew Roth

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.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.