Nevada Democrats in Congress want state lawmakers to remove a statue of former Nevada Sen. Pat McCarran from the U.S. Capitol because of his racist legacy.
They also expressed support for removing McCarran’s name from the Las Vegas airport.
“While Sen. McCarran fought for workers’ rights and sponsored legislation that helped shape the modern air travel industry, his dark legacy of virulent racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia have no place representing Nevada, especially in the United States Capitol,” the Democratic U.S. House and Senate members said in a letter to top state lawmakers.
States determine the two statues they each get display in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the U.S. Capitol Building.
Democratic Reps. Dina Titus, Steven Horsford and Susie Lee signed onto the letter, along with Democratic Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto.
The letter went to Gov. Steve Sisolak, state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas, and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas.
In their letter, lawmakers said Nevada’s statutes in the Capitol should embody the state’s “compassionate, diverse and welcoming values.”
“As our country grapples with its history of systemic racism and at a time of rising anti-Semitism in the United States and around the world, removing the McCarran statue from the National Statuary Hall Collection would demonstrate to the nation that Nevada does not tolerate hate or bigotry,” the letter said.
McCarran, a Democrat, served as a senator from Nevada from 1933 to 1954.
McCarran, after World War II, was instrumental in limiting the number of Jewish refugees allowed to enter the U.S., made anti-Semitic remarks and blocked some of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Jewish judicial nominees.
McCarran was also the principal sponsor of the McCarran Internal Security Act, which required Communist organizations to register with the federal government and established the Subversive Activities Control Board.
The board was integral to the Second Red Scare of the 1950s, in which many Americans were accused of and punished for ties to Communism, true or not.
There have been previous efforts to have his statue removed and to change the name of McCarran International Airport.
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom, then a state senator, proposed a bill in the 2017 state Legislature to rename the airport after former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who was raised in Searchlight.