The House on Wednesday boldly stood up to the General Services Administration—once known for its lavish Las Vegas training conference—and said: No, you will not re-erect that statue!
The statue in question, sculpted the late artist Dmitri Hadzi, is called "Red Mountains," and it is, as members argued Tuesday, a threat to national security.
The 5-foot-by-17-foot-by-5-foot abstract structure stood in front of the Hugo L. Black federal courthouse in Birmingham, Ala., from 1991 to 2012, when it was removed to allow workers to repair the entry plaza. Following the construction, GSA—which first commissioned the piece from Hadzi, and several others scattered across the nation—planned to reinstall it and was working with the U.S. District Court to do so.
But Alabama Reps. Spencer Bachus, a Republican, and Terri Sewell, a Democrat, have cosponsored an amendment that would prevent GSA from using any funding to reinstall the statue, warning that it represents a security threat. That amendment was agreed to by a voice vote on Tuesday and attached the Financial Services appropriations bill, which passed the House on Wednesday.
Bachus and Sewell argue that the structure—which sat in the same location for 11 years—poses a serious threat to the courthouse, citing reports from Karon Bowdre, the chief judge for the Northern District of Alabama, and U.S. Marshal Martin Keeley.