Washington DC Honors Italy’s 150th Anniversary of its Unification | Italian Americans Have some Unfinished Business in Congress

DC Council Resolution
Today, March 6, the District of Columbia Council unanimously passed a resolution recognizing the 150th anniversary of Italy becoming a modern country. This historic event occurred on March 17, 1861 is officially called the Unification of Italy. The resolution introduced by Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans also recognizes the influence of Italy on Washington architecture, including the U.S. Capitol, the White House, the Supreme Court building and even the D.C. “City Hall,” the John Wilson Building. It also notes the contribution of Italian sculptors and stone masons on Washington landmarks, such as Union Station and the National Cathedral. The resolution recognizes that Washington and Rome are Sister Cities, as of June, 2011. Joe Grano, president of The Rhodes Tavern-DC Heritage Society and proposer of the resolution, praised the Council for its noble action and thanked Jack Evans: “Jack is an outstanding public servant who really cares about Washington as a world-class city.” (For more info. call Communications Director Andrew Huff in Coucilmember Evans’ office at 202-724-8058). Grano also noted how ironic it is that the District has honored Italy for its 150th anniversary as a nation, but the Congress hasn’t, as yet.
Senators Schumer and Gillibrand
On March 2, Joe Grano, also chair of The Constantino Brumidi Society wrote New York Senators Charles E. Schumer and Kirsten E. Gillibrand and requested that they both together introduce a resolution recognizing the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy. Grano reminded the senators that the New York State legislature passed a joint resolution commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy on June 6, 2011. Then, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a similar proclamation on August 8, 2011.Grano wrote: “it would appear that by issuance of the above referenced New York resolution and proclamation; it is now official New York State policy to give recognition to the anniversary of this historic event. Therefore, in furtherance of New York State interests in Congress, it would seem incumbent upon you, as the two New York senators, to introduce such a resolution in your body recognizing the Unification of Italy.” Acknowledging that there was not much time to introduce and pass the resolution, but it could be done, Grano wrote: “I will remind you that last March 17, the both of you commendably introduced a resolution recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire (S. Res.106). It passed the Senate the same day it was introduced.Surely, a resolution forItaly would receive an equally expedited review in the Senate. When passed, the concurrent resolution would, as you know, be quickly sent to the House for its approval where I would expect equally expeditious treatment.” Grano commented, “Senators Schumer and Gillibrand can be real heroes here if they introduce the resolution, this week.”
Arizona Centennial Resolution
On February 14, Representative Ben Quayle of Arizona and five other members of the Arizona delegation introduced a resolution in the House “Recognizing February 14, 2012, as the centennial of the State of Arizona” (H.Con.Res. 100), which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
This commemorative resolution appears to be in clear violation of Rule XII of the Rules of the House of Representatives (112th Congress) which states that:
“A bill or resolution … may not be introduced or considered in the House if it establishes or expresses a commemoration.”
Further, according to this rule the term commemoration “… means a remembrance, celebration, or recognition for any purpose through the designation of a specified period of time.”
Finally, “A petition, memorial, bill, or resolution excluded under this rule shall be returned to the Member … from whom it was received.” (See page 25 of the Rules under Prohibition on Commemorations and Excluded matters).
Grano asks: “This resolution appears to be in clear violation of the ban on ceremonial resolutions. Why was the resolution not returned to Rep. Quayle as the rule requires? How was this resolution allowed to slip through the ban? Was this a mistake by the Clerk of the House or a deliberate attempt on the part of the Speaker to avoid the embarrassment of rejecting the resolution, as the rule requires, and incurring the wrath of angry Arizonians in their centennial year, which also happens to be an election year?”
Grano points out this inconsistency, he says, “not out of a desire to deprive Arizonians of a rightful resolution, but to point out the failure of Rule XII to allow for exceptions to the rule. This rule is draconian, and not worthy of the People’s House,” he said. Grano continued, “People expect the Congress to recognize great events, as well as great individuals, from time to time. Resolutions honoring the entry of a State into the Union should obviously be recognized by the House and by the Congress. (Note that H.Con.Res. 100 is a concurrent resolution meant to be voted on by the Senate after passage by the House). By the same token, the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy, our NATO ally and friend ought to be recognized by the Congress with a resolution. The House GOP leadership in its attempt to ban frivolous resolutions from coming to a vote has also frustrated attempts to introduce meaningful resolutions – a clear example of throwing out the baby with the bath water. It seems absurd for the House to try to prevent the Congress from recognizing and celebrating the entry of the great State of Arizona into the Union one hundred years ago, something that the Congress itself was responsible for. Why would House GOP leaders want to allow something so illogical to happen?”
Several representatives have made it clear that they would have introduced the Italy resolution, but for the ban on ceremonial resolutions. In light of the Arizona Resolution, House Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Eric Cantor, should be asked three questions:
1. Was introduction of the Arizona Resolution proper and in accord with Rule XII, or in violation
   and should therefore be returned to the Arizona delegation;
2. Will the House GOP leaders allow the Arizona Resolution to be brought to a vote; and if so
3. Will they allow an Italy Resolution, if passed by the Senate, to be voted upon by the House?
Protest Ban on Ceremonial Resolutions
Tomorrow, Wednesday, March 7, at 12:15 P.M., The Rhodes Tavern-DC Heritage Society will protest the House Ban on Ceremonial Resolutions at the corner of First and C Streets, SE, near the entrance of the Republican National Committee headquarters, opposite the Capitol South Metro station.
John Kelly Article in Today’s Post
John Kelly in today’s Washington Post Metro section (page 2) reports on the auction of a Constantino Brumidi study of the Apotheosis of George Washington (in the dome of the Capitol), that sold for $539,500 in Boston, Sunday. The three-foot in diameter painting was bought by the Smithsonian’s American Art Museum and which may be shared with the Architect of the Capitol for display in the Capitol Visitor Center. Kelly also brought up the issue of why there has been no presentation ceremony for Brumidi in the Rotunda after he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by Congress in 2008. Kelly wrote:
Now for some unfinished business. Four years ago — July 1, 2008, to be exact — President George W. Bush signed legislation granting Brumidi a posthumous Congressional Gold Medal. But there has been no official awards ceremony.
This displeases local history buff Joe Grano, chairman of the Constantino Brumidi appreciation society. Joe notes that on the same day that Bush signed Brumidi’s gold medal legislation, he signed similar legislation for Edward Brooke, the U.S. senator from Massachusetts.
“Brooke got his gold medal on Oct. 28, 2009,” Joe said. “It’s 2012. What’s going on here?”
Not long before he died in 1880, Brumidi slipped from a scaffold while painting the frieze in the Capitol, just one of many works of art the Italian immigrant was responsible for. “He’d given his life — metaphorically and almost literally — for his nation,” Joe said. “He deserves a ceremony in the Rotunda, beneath his two great works of art. It is my hope the leaders of Congress can appreciate this.”
Joe said he’s heard talk of holding a medal ceremony in the Capitol visitors center or the Library of Congress, rather than in the Rotunda, which Congress is loath to close for events. “Anything less [than the Rotunda] is really not revering his memory,” Joe said.

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