What is H.R. 49?
(Updated August 25, 2021)
This bill was enacted on June 25, 2021
This bill would designate the Pulse Memorial location at 1912 South Orange Avenue in Orlando, Florida as the “National Pulse Memorial.” This federal designation would recognize the victims of, survivors of, and first responders to the June 12, 2016, shooting at Pulse nightclub. Federal funds would be prohibited from being used on any activities for any activities related to the Pulse Memorial. The Pulse Memorial would not be designated as a unit of the National Park System.
Argument in favor
The Pulse nightclub shooting in June 2016 was a tragedy that must be memorialized to ensure it isn’t forgotten. Redesignating the Pulse Memorial as the National Pulse Memorial would give the memorial the national-level recognition it needs. This proposal has precedent, with 10 memorials across the country already having federal recognition without federal funding.
Given that this bill wouldn’t provide any National Park System funding or other federal funds for the National Pulse Memorial, it’s unclear what benefit there is to redesignating the Pulse Memorial. Rather than redesignate the Pulse Memorial without making it part of the National Park System, it would be more meaningful to redesignate the memorial as part of the National Park System and provide federal funds for its maintenance.
Pulse nightclub; Pulse Memorial; and the onePULSE Foundation
Cost of H.R. 49
The CBO estimates that this legislation would not affect the federal budget, as it specifically prohibits the use of federal funds for any activities related to the memorial it proposes and wouldn’t designate the memorial as a unit of the National Park System.
In-Depth: Sponsoring Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) reintroduced this legislation from the 116th Congress to establish the site of Pulse nightclub as a federally recognized National Memorial Site. In remarks during a June 10, 2019, press conference at the Pulse Interim Memorial, Rep. Soto said:
“Our efforts to designate the Pulse Nightclub a National Memorial site honors the lives of the 49 victims and survivors, and ensures no one ever forgets this tragedy. The Memorial will serve as a reminder of the remarkable way our community came together to heal and overcome hate. We recognize the need to preserve LGBTQ historic sites, because of cases like the Matthew Shepard Memorial which have been deliberately destroyed over time without these protections. Let the Pulse Memorial become a symbol of hope, love, and light.”
Barbara Poma, CEO of onePULSE Foundation, a nonprofit whose mission is to memorialize the Pulse shooting tragedy, supports this legislation:
“Establishing the site of Pulse nightclub as a National Historic Site is an important step in honoring those who were taken and ensuring we as a nation remember what happened here on June 12, 2016. In these times when acts of hate and violence are on the rise, we must remember our past and work to do better now and in the future.”
This legislation has 15 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 13 Democrats and two Republicans, in the current session of Congress. In the 116th Congress, this legislation passed the House by voice vote with the support of 46 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 44 Democrats and two Republicans.
According to Rep. Soto’s office, Florida’s senior Republican, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), was approached to support this legislation in the Senate last Congress. However, according to Sen. Soto’s office, Sen. Rubio declined to introduce this legislation in the Senate. In the 117th Congress, there remains no Senate companion to this legislation.
Of Note: In the early morning hours of June 12, 2016, 29-year-old Omar Mateen killed 49 and wounded more than 50 people in a mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. At the time, it was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
Pulse, which had opened in 2004, was one of central Florida’s most vibrant spots for LGBTQ social life. On the night of Mateen’s attack, Pulse was hosting its popular Latin Night, which drew from a broad section of the community.
After the shooting, Pulse nightclub owner Barbara Poma established the onePULSE Foundation, a 501(c)(3) educational nonprofit. This organization’s mission is to memorialize the tragedy of the shooting and ensure that Pulse’s legacy of love, acceptance, and hope will never be lost. At present, onePULSE plans to build the National Pulse Memorial and Museum, slated to open in 2022 on the site of the Pulse nightclub and nearby properties. This museum will include the Orlando Health Survivors Walkway.
Most National Memorials are owned and run by the U.S. National Park Service, but some are not. Ten national memorials are not affiliated with the NPS, including the National Memorial for Fallen Educators, National AIDS Memorial, and David Berger Memorial.
Sponsoring Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) Press Release (116th Congress)
CBO Cost Estimate
Causes - 116th Congress Summary
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: Ebyabe via Creative Commons)
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