Report text available as:

(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.) Tip?


110th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 1st Session                                                    110-436

======================================================================



 
DESIGNATION OF GREAT HALL OF THE CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER AS EMANCIPATION 
                                  HALL

                                _______
                                

  November 8, 2007.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be 
                                printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Oberstar, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 3315]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure to whom 
was referred the bill (H.R. 3315) to provide that the great 
hall of the Capitol Visitor Center shall be known as 
Emancipation Hall, having considered the same, report favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommend that the bill do pass.

                       PURPOSE OF THE LEGISLATION

    H.R. 3315 designates the great hall of the Capitol Visitor 
Center as ``Emancipation Hall''.

                  BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR LEGISLATION

    The great hall is located in the new Capitol Visitor Center 
(``CVC''), which is the most recent and largest addition to the 
U.S. Capitol in its 212-year history. The CVC, expected to be 
completed in the fall of 2008, will host more than three 
million people who visit the U.S. Capitol each year.
    The great hall will include information and ticketing 
desks, and provide an area where Americans and visitors can 
gather to take in scenic views of the U.S. Capitol or prepare 
to tour the 580,000-square foot Visitor Center. The great hall 
will also serve as a central gathering space in the CVC. The 
great hall encompasses 20,000 square feet and its dimensions 
are 100 feet by 200 feet, with a ceiling height of 35 feet. 
There will be statues from Statuary Hall on display throughout 
the great hall. The plaster model of the Statue of Freedom from 
the Senate Russell building will be featured in the cellar 
rotunda. The wall and column stone in the great hall is 
sandstone from Pennsylvania. The floor stone is marble from 
Tennessee and dolomite from Wisconsin. The black granite in the 
water features of the great hall is from California.
    H.R. 3315 designates the great hall of the Capitol Visitor 
Center as ``Emancipation Hall'', acknowledging the work of 
slave laborers who helped build the United States Capitol.
    In 2004, Congress directed the Architect of the Capitol to 
study and report on the history and contributions of slave 
laborers in the construction of the U.S. Capitol. The 2005 
report, entitled ``History of Slave Laborers in the 
Construction of the United States Capitol'', examined the 
efforts of slaves to help build the Capitol, other Federal 
buildings, and the White House, which at the time was known as 
the President's House. Although the record was incomplete 
because of limited documentation of slave labor, the evidence 
available and historical context in the report provided several 
indications that slaves and free African Americans played a 
significant role in building the physical symbols of the United 
States.
    The U.S. Capitol was constructed during a time when the 
Potomac region's population was sparse, but the concentration 
of slave laborers was the highest in the nation. Slave labor 
was an integral component of the region's workforce. Slave 
labor was utilized in all aspects of construction of the 
Capitol and slaves often worked alongside free blacks and 
whites in the areas of carpentry, masonry, carting, and 
painting. Many of the products of slave labor are still visible 
in the Capitol buildings today and they serve as a reminder of 
the significant and undeniable contribution that these 
individuals made to our nation.
    In 2005, the Slave Laborers Task Force was established to 
study and recognize the contributions of enslaved African 
Americans in building the U.S. Capitol. On November 7, 2007, 
the Slave Laborers Task Force, chaired by Representative John 
Lewis, specifically recommended that the great hall of the 
Capitol Visitor Center be designated as ``Emancipation Hall''.
    Designating the great hall of the CVC as Emancipation Hall 
will also eliminate any confusion with the Great Hall of the 
Library of Congress (``LOC''). The Library of Congress' Great 
Hall is located in the Thomas Jefferson Building. The Jefferson 
Building was completed in 1897 and was built to serve as the 
American national library but also as an American rival to the 
grandeur of European libraries. The LOC Thomas Jefferson 
Building's Great Hall leads into the central reading room. The 
LOC Great Hall has, at times, displayed the Declaration of 
Independence and the Constitution of the United States before 
these documents were transferred to the National Archives in 
1952. The CVC will include a connection to the Thomas Jefferson 
Building, making it important to distinguish between the two 
open public spaces of the great hall of the CVC and the Library 
of Congress' Great Hall.
    H.R. 3315 honors the slaves who worked tirelessly to help 
build the United States Capitol.

                       SUMMARY OF THE LEGISLATION

Section 1. Designation of great hall of Capitol Visitor Center as 
        Emancipation Hall

    Section 1 of the bill designates the great hall of the 
Capitol Visitor Center as ``Emancipation Hall'', and any 
reference to the great hall in any law, rule, or regulation 
shall be deemed to be a reference to Emancipation Hall.

            LEGISLATIVE HISTORY AND COMMITTEE CONSIDERATION

    On August 2, 2007, Representative Zach Wamp introduced H.R. 
3315.
    On September 25, 2007, the Subcommittee on Economic 
Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management held a 
hearing on H.R. 3315. Prior to the introduction of H.R. 3315, 
the Subcommittee held a hearing on June 8, 2007, entitle ``What 
Visitors Can Expect at the Capitol Visitor Center: 
Transportation, Access, Security, and Visuals''.
    On October 30, 2007, the Subcommittee on Economic 
Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management met to 
consider H.R. 3315 and favorably recommended the bill to the 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
    On October 31, 2007, the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure met in open session to consider H.R. 3315. The 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure ordered the bill 
reported favorably to the House by voice vote with a quorum 
present.

                              RECORD VOTES

    Clause 3(b) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires each committee report to include the 
total number of votes cast for and against on each record vote 
on a motion to report and on any amendment offered to the 
measure or matter, and the names of those members voting for 
and against. There were no recorded votes taken in connection 
with ordering H.R. 3315 reported. A motion to order H.R. 3315 
reported favorably to the House was agreed to by voice vote 
with a quorum present.

                      COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS

    With respect to the requirements of clause 3(c)(1) of rule 
XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in this report.

                          COST OF LEGISLATION

    Clause 3(c)(2) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives does not apply where a cost estimate and 
comparison prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 
1974 has been timely submitted prior to the filing of the 
report and is included in the report. Such a cost estimate is 
included in this report.

                    COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XIII

    1. With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(2) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, and 
section 308(a) of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee references the report of the Congressional Budget 
Office included in the report.
    2. With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(4) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
performance goal and objective of this legislation is to 
designate the great hall in the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center as 
``Emancipation Hall''.
    3. With respect to the requirement of clause 3(c)(3) of 
rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives and 
section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the 
Committee has received the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 3315 
from the Director of the Congressional Budget Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                  Washington, DC, November 1, 2007.
Hon. James L. Oberstar,
Chairman, Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
reviewed the following bills as ordered reported by the House 
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on October 31, 
2007:
           H.R. 3712, a bill to designate the United 
        States courthouse located at 1716 Spielbusch Avenue in 
        Toledo, Ohio, as the ``James M. Ashley and Thomas W.L. 
        Ashley United States Courthouse''; and
           H.R. 3315, a bill to provide that the great 
        hall of the Capitol Visitor Center shall be known as 
        ``Emancipation Hall.''
    CBO estimates that enactment of these bills would have no 
significant impact on the federal budget and would not affect 
direct spending or revenues. These bills contain no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on 
state, local, or tribal governments. If you wish further 
details on this estimate, we will be pleased to provide them. 
The CBO staff contact is Matthew Pickford.
            Sincerely,
                                         Robert A. Sunshine
                                   (For Peter R. Orszag, Director).

                     COMPLIANCE WITH HOUSE RULE XXI

    Pursuant to clause 9 of rule XXI of the Rules of the House 
of Representatives, H.R. 3315 does not contain any 
congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff 
benefits as defined in clause 9(d), 9(e), or 9(f) of rule XXI 
of the Rules of the House of Representatives.

                   CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, committee reports on a bill or joint 
resolution of a public character shall include a statement 
citing the specific powers granted to the Congress in the 
Constitution to enact the measure. The Committee on 
Transportation and Infrastructure finds that Congress has the 
authority to enact this measure pursuant to its powers granted 
under article I, section 8 of the Constitution.

                       FEDERAL MANDATES STATEMENT

    The Committee adopts as its own the estimate of Federal 
mandates prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office pursuant to section 423 of the Unfunded Mandates Reform 
Act (Public Law 104-4).

                        PREEMPTION CLARIFICATION

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 
requires the report of any Committee on a bill or joint 
resolution to include a statement on the extent to which the 
bill or joint resolution is intended to preempt state, local, 
or tribal law. The Committee states that H.R. 3315 does not 
preempt any state, local, or tribal law.

                      ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    No advisory committees within the meaning of section 5(b) 
of the Federal Advisory Committee Act are created by this 
legislation.

                APPLICABILITY TO THE LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

    The Committee finds that the legislation does not relate to 
the terms and conditions of employment or access to public 
services or accommodations within the meaning of section 
102(b)(3) of the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 
104-1).

         CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    H.R. 3315 makes no changes to existing law.

                             MINORITY VIEWS

    I was pleased to offer the motion to report H.R. 3315 
favorably from the Committee on Transportation and 
Infrastructure because I support recognizing emancipation and 
honoring the contributions of slaves in the construction of the 
Capitol. However, as I discussed in the subcommittee hearing 
and full committee markup, I have concerns about renaming the 
Great Hall of the Capitol Visitor Center. Throughout the 
history of the Capitol, none of the monumental spaces, such as 
the House and Senate chambers or the Rotunda, have been named 
after specific individuals or events in history. Instead, these 
great spaces of the Capitol have long been called by their 
functional names. By doing so, all people regardless of their 
race, ethnic heritage, culture, or human travails are equally 
recognized.
    These spaces are dramatic because of their physical 
settings and the unique historical events that took place 
within their walls. Similarly, the Great Hall of the Capitol 
Visitor Center will become a monumental space with its own 
unique history; and just as those spaces have not been named, I 
believe the Great Hall should be reserved and left to honor all 
Americans.
    While I do not believe it is appropriate to rename the 
Great Hall, I do believe that it is important for Congress to 
acknowledge and honor the contributions slaves made to the 
Capitol. In the hearing held by the Subcommittee on Economic 
Development, Public Buildings, and Emergency Management and 
again in the full committee markup of this legislation, I 
suggested that other spaces could better acknowledge 
emancipation and honor the slaves that helped build the 
Capitol.
    For example, the exhibition hall will provide an important 
historical context to the name Emancipation Hall and allow 
visitors to learn about and pay tribute to emancipation. One of 
the first recommendations I made as a member of the Capitol 
Preservation Commission was to create a first class museum 
space within the CVC. I proposed a museum quality space so we 
could exhibit some of the tremendous artifacts--like the 
Emancipation Proclamation--which are rarely viewed by the 
public.
    The exhibition hall will be 16,500 square feet, a large 
space that would not only honor those who built the Capitol, 
but provide information about their contributions to American 
history. The exhibition hall will display the Emancipation 
Proclamation and prominently house the catafalque that was 
built to support the casket of Abraham Lincoln--the Great 
Emancipator--while the president's body lay in state in the 
Rotunda. This hall will contain permanent exhibits on the 
Constitution and the post-Civil War amendments proposed by 
Congress and ratified by the states to abolish slavery, to 
guarantee equal protection under the law, and to ensure the 
right to vote.
    This beautiful hall will have strong historical and 
contextual links to emancipation. It will be the primary venue 
for acknowledging and commemorating the slaves who helped build 
the Capitol and the country. It will help deepen the 
understanding of our Nation's long struggle with slavery and 
its ultimate abolition for all who visit here. For all of these 
reasons, I would suggest we name this area of the Visitor 
Center Emancipation Hall.
    A second space I proposed naming Emancipation Hall is the 
congressional auditorium. While it does not have the strong 
links to emancipation as the exhibition hall, it is the most 
significant functional space in the facility, a place where 
leaders will gather to discuss important ideas of their time. 
The auditorium is a grand space that is being designed to serve 
as an alternative House Chamber. Except for the current House 
and Senate Chambers, no other venue in the Capitol has such an 
important purpose. The name Emancipation Hall would serve as a 
valuable reminder of courage, leadership, and our unique 
commitment to advance the cause of human freedom and fulfill 
the promise of the Declaration of Independence and 
Constitution. As such, I believe it would be appropriate and 
fitting to name the facility Emancipation Hall.
    In sum, I believe there are more appropriate areas in the 
Capitol Visitor Center to name Emancipation Hall. Additionally, 
we have a tradition of leaving the monumental spaces of the 
Capitol un-named. As a monumental space in, and an introduction 
to, the Capitol, the Great Hall should retain its current 
functional name like the other great spaces within the Capitol.

                                                      John L. Mica.