Jan 4, 2022 - Politics & Policy

More deceased public figures are being honored in the Capitol

Data: Architect of the Capitol; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The frequency of public figures lying in state or honor in the U.S. Capitol has increased during the past two decades, according to data from the Architect of the Capitol.

Why it matters: A tribute largely reserved for presidents and other political leaders has now trickled down to ordinary citizens and guardians of the building itself, as Congress has sought to allow the nation to collectively acknowledge men and women who've left their mark on the country.

  • Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) will be the latest accorded the honor, when he lies in state in the Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 12, congressional leaders announced Sunday.
  • Last month, another former majority leader, Sen. Bob Dole (R-Kan.), received the same public tribute.
  • In 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg also was honored at the Capitol — but she lay in state next to the Rotunda in Statuary Hall.

By the numbers: Since 2000, the number of deceased Americans who have lain in the Capital is 13.

  • In the previous two decades, it was four, including two Capitol police officers killed in the line of duty, Florida Sen. Claude D. Pepper and an unknown soldier from the Vietnam War.
  • In the 1960s and '70s, Congress honored eight Americans, including four presidents.
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