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110th Congress Report
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
1st Session 110-436
DESIGNATION OF GREAT HALL OF THE CAPITOL VISITOR CENTER AS EMANCIPATION
November 8, 2007.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be
Mr. Oberstar, from the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[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
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
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.
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
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
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:
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,
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
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.
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).
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
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
CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED
H.R. 3315 makes no changes to existing law.
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
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
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
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
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.