What do a women's history museum and national defense have in… | WORLD
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What do a women's history museum and national defense have in common?

Feminist activist Bella Abzug in 1995. EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

What do a women's history museum and national defense have in common?

A bill authorizing the creation of the National Women’s History Museum could get tucked into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), virtually guaranteeing it will sail through the Senate without any debate.

The NDAA provides the 2015 budget for the Department of Defense, and authorization for the museum would be added to a public land package included in the bill. Currently, the museum only exists online and in an administrative office in Alexandria, Va. Though the museum bill only creates a bipartisan committee to study the feasibility of building the museum, it effectively ensures the museum’s creation, Concerned Women for America President Penny Nance told me.

In May, the measure passed with bipartisan support in the Republican-controlled House. Although it had bipartisan sponsorship in both the House and Senate, the Senate never voted on it. Now, the bill may not get a vote on its own merits, or lack thereof.

“It’s pushing a bill through in a way that avoids the regular order in the Senate,” Nance said.

Nance agrees with Joan Wages, the museum’s president, that more women deserve recognition for their accomplishments. Wages said in a Huffington Post op-ed that omitting women’s history means omitting half of history.

But Nance fears the museum will lean toward leftist ideology and ignore the conservative, pro-life views of many women, including sexual revolutionary Victoria Woodhull.

“CWA strongly supports the showcasing and promotion of the many achievements of American women,” Nance said in a statement. “Unfortunately, as written, this provision will serve to promote a skewed view of women on key issues like abortion, the free market, and feminism.”

The museum’s potential inclusion in the NDAA is ironic, Nance said in an op-ed she co-wrote with Amber Smith, a military and women’s issues analyst and former U.S. Army helicopter pilot. The museum’s directors plan to eventually include an exhibit featuring the anti-military activist Bella Abzug, who once said, “I am not being facetious when I say that the real enemies in this country are the Pentagon and its pals in big business.”

Conjoining the museum with the NDAA places lawmakers in the awkward position of voting for the military and voting against a complete portrayal of women’s history, Nance said. “The NDAA is meant to authorize budget authority for our military and national security to ensure the safety of our nation and its citizens,” Nance and Smith wrote. “It is not meant to make backroom deals for bills without merit.”

No federal funds currently are allocated for the museum, but that could change. The facility will cost between $300 million and $500 million to build, according to estimates, in addition to millions spent on annual operating costs. The museum’s supporters aim for it eventually to become part of the Smithsonian, which receives 65 percent of its more than $1 billion budget from tax dollars.

“If the National Women’s History Museum had any merit, it would stand on its own,” Nance and Smith said. “It’s funding would not need to be snuck in a bill that is almost guaranteed to pass because we need national security—not a one-sided women’s history museum paid for at the taxpayer’s expense.”

Courtney Crandell Courtney is a former WORLD correspondent.

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