WASHINGTON (WTVD) -- North Carolina's two senators, Ted Budd and Thom Tillis, both Republicans, have introduced S. Con. Res. 4, a resolution to expedite the installation of a statue of the late Rev. Billy Graham Jr. into the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall Collection, they announced in a release Tuesday.
Each state is authorized to designate "two statues of notable citizens for display in the United States Capitol." A state can replace a statue by requesting the approval of the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress (JCL).
On Oct. 2, 2015, the North Carolina General Assembly approved a request to the JCL to approve the replacement of the statue of Charles Brantley Aycock with one of Graham, which became eligible for placement after the famous evangelist's death in 2018 at age 99.
"Rev. Billy Graham devoted his life to his faith, preaching the Gospel to millions around the world," Tillis said. "He was a proud North Carolinian whose service bettered our country and the world. I'm proud to introduce this bipartisan resolution so the statue of Rev. Billy Graham can finally stand in Statuary Hall and represent our North Carolina values."
Three steps remain in the process of placing the statue in the Capitol, and this resolution would force the Joint Committee on the Library of Congress (JCL) to complete those steps without further delay.
TIMELINE: A look back at Rev. Billy Graham's life
"The legacy of Rev. Billy Graham is based on his simple message of forgiveness based on John 3:16," Budd said. "His lifelong commitment to preaching the Gospel, his fight for civil rights, his opposition to communism, and his spiritual guidance provided hope to hundreds of millions. He was the first private citizen from North Carolina to lie in honor in the United States Capitol and his likeness should stand in the U.S. Capitol forever. After years of bureaucratic delay, it's time to get this done."
The bill would mandate that the JCL:
- Approve or deny the full-sized clay model and pedestal design of a statue within 30 days.
- Approve or deny the completed statue within 30 days.
- Determine a permanent display location within 30 days of approving the completed statue.
Other Senate sponsors include Sens. James Lankford, R-OK, Roger Marshall, R-KS, Rick Scott, R-FL, Mike Rounds, R-SD, Kevin Cramer R-ND, and Cynthia Lummis, R-WY.
In the House, the bipartisan resolution is led by a host of North Carolina lawmakers, including Republicans Rep. Patrick McHenry, Rep. Virginia Foxx, Rep. Richard Hudson, Rep. Dan Bishop, Rep. David Rouzer, Rep. Greg Murphy, Rep. Chuck Edwards, and Democratic Rep. Don Davis.
Political leaders at the state level also voiced support for the measure.
"Rev. Billy Graham was one of the finest men to hail from North Carolina," said NC Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. "His ministry took him around the globe where he impacted millions of lives. The installation of Rev. Graham's statue in the Capitol is long overdue, and I commend Sen. Ted Budd and the rest of North Carolina's Congressional delegation for efforts to get it completed."
NC House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, added: "Rev. Billy Graham left an indelible mark on his home state of North Carolina and the entire world. Rev. Graham was an advisor to hundreds of influential political and spiritual leaders worldwide and a beloved preacher who reached nations with the message of God's love and forgiveness. He has left a legacy that will live on forever, and the installation of the statue of the Rev. William Franklin 'Billy' Graham, Jr. into the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall is long overdue."
The North Carolina General Assembly sent to JCL the proposed statue design in August 2020, but the committee took more than a year to approve this step. This resolution aims to ensure such lengthy delays will not reoccur, the lawmakers said.
Read the full text of the resolution here (opens in .PDF).