November 14, 2023

Rep. Watson Coleman Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Commemorate 250 Years of the Nation's Independence

Today, Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) introduced the Semiquincentennial Congressional Time Capsule Act. The bipartisan and bicameral bill, part of the nation’s planned Semiquincentennial celebration, would authorize the Architect of the Capitol to create a time capsule and have it buried on the west lawn of the Capitol, to remain sealed until July 4, 2276, the nation’s 500th Anniversary.  

The contents of the time capsule will be determined by the offices of the Speaker of the House, the Office of the Minority Leader of the House, and the Offices of the Majority and Minority Leaders of the Senate. They will include items that represent important legislation or institutional milestones of Congress, a message from the Congress to the future Congress, and other items that reflect our history at the time of its burial in 2026.  

“July 4, 1776, was an essential milestone in the history of the progress of humanity towards a fair, just, and democratic society; a journey towards a more perfect union that continues to this day,” said Rep. Watson Coleman, “As we reflect upon the last 250 years of progress towards those ideals, it is also important to impart on future generations the lessons we’ve learned and our dreams for the future. It is an honor to introduce this legislation as one small part of our nation’s 250th Anniversary celebration. 

“The promise of America is timeless, so what better way to capture it than in a time capsule,” said Rep. María Elvira Salazar (FL-27). “Two hundred fifty years from now, we will showcase the American exceptionality that shows where we’ve been so we can see where we’re going.”

"Since the signing of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia, America’s shining beacon of hope and democracy continues to guide our nation into a better future for all,” said Rep. Dwight Evans (PA-03). “The commemoration of our nation’s 250th year of existence reminds us of our collective responsibility to work towards a more perfect union. I am immensely proud to co-sponsor the Semiquincentennial Congressional Time Capsule Act not only as a Philadelphian but also as an American."

“I hope that this time capsule will tell a story to Americans in the 23rd century about our nation’s strength, our accomplishments and our progress towards a more perfect union during our first 250 years,” said Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04). “And while I’m sure the artifacts they will find will seem ancient to them, I hope the items will inspire them to continue that progress and for America to continue to be that ‘shining city upon on a hill.’”

“As we reflect on the democratic ideals our nation was built upon ahead of its 250th Anniversary celebration, it’s important we consider the impact our present-day actions have on shaping our American democracy and society in the future,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “I’m honored to help introduce this legislation, which will preserve the rich culture and ideas of this historical moment in the United States for generations to come.” 

“History teaches us invaluable lessons. It’s our responsibility to learn from the people and events that came before us, and to preserve those accounts for future generations,” Senator Chuck Grassley said. “Burying a time capsule on the anniversary of the day the Founding Fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence would honor their mark on our nation and serve as a way to document the milestones still to come.”

“I am proud to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of our country’s founding by being a cosponsor of this resolution to establish a congressional time capsule to share with future generations,” said Senator Thom Tillis. “This time capsule will be opened upon our nation’s 500th Anniversary, and I look forward to ensuring we provide future Americans with key insights into our enduring principles and values as Americans.”

Cosponsors in the House include Maria Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Dwight Evans (PA-03), Robert Aderholt (AL-04), Brendan Boyle (PA-02), Don Davis (NC-01), Josh Gottheimer (NJ-05), Tom Kean, Jr. (NJ-07), Mike Lawler (NY-17), Lisa McClain (MI-09), Troy Nehls (TX-22), Chris Pappas (NH-01), Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA-15), Dina Titus (NV-01), Paul Tonko (NY-20), Lori Trahan (MA-03), and Robert Wittman (VA-01). 

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. It is cosponsored by Senators Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Thom Tillis of North Carolina, Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, and Mike Rounds of South Dakota.

The bill can be read here.