Washington (CNN)The tug-of-war over a controversial painting displayed in the Cannon tunnel of the US Capitol continued Tuesday as Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay and members of the Congressional Black Caucus re-hung the artwork that Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter personally removed Friday. Lawmakers have been facing off over the artwork that some Republicans have criticized as anti-police.
In Tuesday morning's House Republican Conference, Hunter received a round of applause from his GOP colleagues, his chief of staff, Joe Kasper, told CNN. Fellow Rep. David Reichert said he will write a letter to the architect of the Capitol calling for the painting's removal -- again. If the architect does not remove the painting, Kasper said, House Speaker Paul Ryan told members he will take steps toward removing the painting. Each member of Congress can select a painting by a constituent to hang in the Cannon tunnel. Hunter and other House Republicans took issue with the one from Clay's district that had some police depicted as pigs. The painting, by high school student David Pulphus, won Clay's congressional art competition last May. Members do not select the artists, do not sign off on the artistic concepts and have no role in judging the competition, Clay said. Speaking to reporters after re-hanging the artwork, Clay called the saga of the painting a "manufactured controversy." He said it was "pathetic" that Republican members who "constantly refer to themselves as Constitutional conservatives" would not apply "fundamental free speech rights" to the artist. Hunter dismissed allegations that he is restricting First Amendment rights, saying the painting violated House rules. "It's not about the First Amendment, it's about the rules of the Capitol," Hunter said. "The art competition rules do not allow for this type of painting," which he described as "offensive."
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