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Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ordered that the chamber's clerk remove portraits of former House speakers who served the Confederacy from display in the Capitol in a letter sent Thursday.

The big picture: Pelosi wrote that the portraits should be removed "to appropriately observe Juneteenth," the day that commemorates the end of slavery in the U.S.

  • "The portraits of these men are symbols that set back our nation's work to confront and combat bigotry," Pelosi wrote.
  • Pelosi last week requested that statues honoring the Confederacy should be removed from the Capitol.

Details: The portraits are of Robert Hunter of Virginia (who served as speaker from 1839- 1841), Howell Cobb of Georgia (1849-1851), James Orr of South Carolina (1857-1859), and Charles Crisp of Georgia (1891-1895).

What she's saying: "As I have said before, the halls of Congress are the very heart of our democracy. There is no room in the hallowed halls of Congress or in any place of honor for memorializing men who embody the violent bigotry and grotesque racism of the Confederacy," Pelosi wrote.

  • "We cannot honor men such as James Orr, who swore on the House Floor to 'preserve and perpetuate' slavery in order to 'enjoy our property in peace, quiet and security,' or Robert Hunter, who served at nearly every level of the Confederacy, including in the Confederate Provincial Congress, as Confederate Secretary of State, in the Confederate Senate and in the Confederate Army."

Go deeper

Pelosi says postmaster general won't commit to reversing USPS changes

Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called out Postmaster General Louis DeJoy on Wednesday, saying his alleged suspension of operational changes and cost-cutting "is wholly insufficient and does not reverse damage already wreaked."

The big picture: Pelosi said that a conversation with DeJoy revealed the USPS has no intention of replacing the sorting machines, mailboxes and other mail infrastructure that has already been removed. On Tuesday, DeJoy promised to halt changes until after the 2020 election, a move Pelosi criticized as "misleading."

Police officers' immunity from lawsuits is getting a fresh look

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nearly a year after the death of George Floyd, advocates of changes in police practices are launching new moves to limit or eliminate legal liability protections for officers accused of excessive force.

Why it matters: Revising or eliminating qualified immunity — the shield police officers have now — could force officers accused of excessive force to personally face civil penalties in addition to their departments. But such a change could intensify a nationwide police officer shortage, critics say. 

The U.S. coronavirus vaccines aren't all the same

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The U.S. now has three COVID-19 vaccines, and public health officials are quick — and careful — to say there’s no bad option. But their effectiveness, manufacturing and distribution vary.

Why it matters: Any of the authorized vaccines are much better than no vaccine, especially for people at high risk of severe coronavirus infections. But their differences may fuel perceptions of inequity, and raise legitimate questions about the best way to use each one.

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