National Women’s History Museum bill heads to President’s desk after 16 year legislative effort

Dec 12, 2014
Press Release
Maloney, Blackburn, Collins, Mikulski and Norton hail passage as major victory for women

WASHINGTON – After 16 years of work, a bill to form a commission on the creation of a National Women’s History Museum (H.R. 863/S. 398) will soon become law. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) hailed the achievement as a major victory for women.

“When I first introduced legislation to form a National Women’s History Museum, I never dreamed it would take 16 years to get this commission passed,” said Rep. Maloney. “It seemed like an easy lift – it’s hard to see who can be opposed to a museum dedicated to chronicling the achievements of women. Women gained the right to vote in 1920. I hope that a century later, in 2020, the efforts and accomplishments of women throughout our history will be chronicled in a museum that both our daughters and sons can learn from and enjoy.”

“The legacies of women who paved the way before us and helped shape our nation deserve to be preserved and shared with our citizens,” said Rep. Blackburn. “I am honored to have worked with Rep. Maloney and Senators Collins and Mikulski to push this legislation across the finish line so that these stories can inspire future generations by illustrating how the bravery, patriotism, and perseverance of our nation’s women can truly make a difference. We look forward to this bill being signed into law by the President.”

“American women have made invaluable contributions to our country in such diverse fields as government, business, medicine, law, literature, sports, entertainment, the arts, and the military. The need for a museum recognizing the contributions of American women is long overdue, and the Commission approved today is an important first step towards that goal,” said Senator Collins.  “A National Women’s History Museum would help ensure that future generations understand what we owe to the many generations of American women who have helped build, sustain, and advance our society.  This can and should be done at no expense to American taxpayers.” 

 “Women’s history is American history,” said Senator Mikulski. “Women have been trailblazers throughout our history, using grit, passion, and determination to seize the day and to make a difference. We must not only honor the past – we must learn from it. A National Women’s History Museum will be a fitting tribute to recognize their lasting legacy while inspiring future generations of women and girls.”

“Surely, American women deserve a museum to showcase their significant contributions that have been indispensable to our country,” said Rep. Norton.  “That is why I have been working to establish this museum in my district, the nation’s capital, with Rep. Maloney and other women in the House and Senate for many years.  The museum seeks only to help ensure that the contributions women have made to our nation are understood as part of our history and collective conscience.  We look forward to the report, and to moving forward with a museum that encourages and empowers even more women to make contributions and to take on leadership roles.”

The law will establish a privately-funded commission to prepare a report containing recommendations for establishing and maintaining a National Women’s History Museum in Washington, D.C. The 8-member commission would have 18 months to produce the report and submit it to Congress for approval. Members of the commission will be appointed by Speaker of the House John Boehner, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid.

This bipartisan legislation passed by a vote of 383 to 33 in the House on May 7, 2014. The Senate legislation introduced by Collins and Mikulski was cosponsored by 39 Senators, including all 20 women Senators. The legislation was added to a package of Natural Resources bills, which was later attached as a separate title of the National Defense Authorization Act, which cleared the House on December 4 and the Senate today.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, the commission and the museum would have no significant impact on federal spending. The bill authorizes the commission to accept and spend monetary gifts and a 501(c)3 organization, National Women’s History Museum, is already raising the funds necessary to fund the commission.