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Forest backs move to put statue of Graham in US Capitol
It is time for federal officials to approve North Carolina's request to have a statue of the Rev. Billy Graham placed in the U.S. Capitol, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest says.
Forest wrote Stephen Ayers, architect of the Capitol, on Tuesday encouraging him to approve the request.
The state General Assembly in 2015 approved a bill calling for a statue of Graham to replace that of former Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock in the National Statuary Hall Collection in the Capitol.
Aycock, who served early in the 20th century, was originally honored for efforts to improve public education, but has come into disfavor for his support of laws discriminating against African-Americans.
Each state has donated two statues to the collection that honor some of their most revered citizens. Of the 100, 35 are located in National Statuary Hall and the rest are in other locations in the Capitol. Those honored must be deceased.
Graham died Feb. 21 and is to be buried Friday in Charlotte. His body will lie in honor in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday.
The 2015 state law calls for appointment of a seven-member committee to choose a sculptor for the Graham statue, review and approve his or her plans and identify a way to pay for the cost of the statue and related expenses.
Jamey Falkenbury, a spokesman for Forest, said his understanding is the state committee will not be formed until state officials get federal approval of the change in statues.
He said the architect of the Capitol notifies Congress's Joint Committee on the Library of Congress of requests like North Carolina's and the committee decides whether to allow a switch.
"Now that Rev. Graham has passed Lt. Gov. Forest was initiating step two in the process of informing the" architect of the Capitol, he said.
The 2015 law makes no mention of a role in the process for the lieutenant governor. His letter Tuesday says Forest writes Ayers "to encourage you to approve North Carolina's request."
The 2015 law asks that then-Gov. Pat McCrory notify the joint congressional committee of his approval of the legislature's request to place a statue of Graham in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
McCrory, who signed the bill into law, lost his bid for a second term in 2016 to current Gov. Roy Cooper.