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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi made a vigorous but ultimately futile argument on Friday to keep student artwork hanging near the Capitol that portrays police as pigs, noting other politically themed paintings remain on the wall.

The controversial painting was selected as part of a student art competition in Rep. William Lacy Clay’s district. The Missouri Democrat hung it in the Capitol, and Republicans immediately demanded that it should be taken down.

After the Architect of the Capitol agreed the painting should be removed, Pelosi appealed the decision to the House Office Building Commission. Pelosi herself sits on that panel, which also includes House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.

The panel rejected her appeal in a 2-1 vote, as Ryan and McCarthy voted to uphold the Architect’s decision, and Pelosi voted to reverse it.

Pelosi argued that there were other paintings hung in the Capitol showing “subjects of contemporary controversy” that were not removed. She specifically noted a portrait of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, who ran in the Democratic primary against Hillary Clinton, a painting depicting a “bleeding immigrant with a black eye,” and a picture showing an American flag beneath a pair of Converse sneakers.

“I asked the HOBC to agree that removing the painting was wrong and the Architect’s decision should be reversed,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Clay. “I regret that the majority of the HOBC chose to uphold the Architect’s decision.”

The painting by Clay’s constituent had been displayed on the wall for seven months before GOP lawmakers became incensed and removed it several times. Clay then replaced it until the Architect stepped in and took it down permanently, citing a rule prohibiting “subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.”

But Pelosi called the repeated removal of the Clay painting by GOP lawmakers “embarrassing” and the Architect’s decision to take it down permanently as “unprecedented,” noting it is the first time artwork has been removed from the wall since the contest began in 1982.

Pelosi pointed out that the artwork was approved for the wall and then disqualified retroactively, months later.

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Pelosi also cited a point made by Clay in an earlier letter to Ryan that suggests removal of the painting violates the First Amendment.

Ryan’s office issued a statement Friday noting the ruling of the HOBC and that the rule disqualifying the painting was initially instituted in 2007, when Pelosi was serving as House speaker.

Read Pelosi’s letter to Clay here:

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