WASHINGTON, D.C. – The lead sponsors of separate bipartisan bills to create the National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum today urged Senate and House leaders to include both pieces of legislation in the year-end omnibus spending package. 

The letter to Senate Majority and Minority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was signed by Sens. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Reps. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas), lead sponsors of the National Museum of the American Latino Act, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), lead sponsors of the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum Act.

“With near universal support from Congress, as well as the public at large, H.R. 2420 and S. 959 would establish museums under the storied umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution,” the lawmakers wrote.  “As we strive to become a more perfect Union, Congress must lead the way to ensure all Americans are included in our shared history. We are all part of this grand experiment in democracy and have contributed much to its greatness.  Our voices deserve to be heard and our stories deserve to be told for generations to come.  Otherwise, the story of America, and its struggles and triumphs, would be rendered incomplete.”

The lawmakers noted that both bills have gone through regular order, hearings have been held, and each was discharged favorably from their respective primary committees of jurisdiction in both Houses with broad bipartisan support.  Both bills unanimously passed the House of Representatives by voice vote, but attempts last night to pass amended versions of the legislation in the Senate by unanimous consent were blocked when Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) singularly objected.

“We thank you for your careful consideration of this urgent request and understand the delicate nature of on-going negotiations. However, we believe this represents our last best hope in seeing these museums become a reality for millions of Americans who lack historical and cultural representation within the Smithsonian,” the letter continued. “We stand ready to work with you in any way that we can.  The finish line is in sight.”

A copy of the letter can be found here and below.

Dear Leader McConnell, Leader Schumer, Speaker Pelosi, and Leader McCarthy:

We write with great urgency to ask for the inclusion of H.R. 2420, the National Museum of the American Latino Act, and S. 959, the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum Act, in any final fiscal year 2021 omnibus package considered before the end of the 116th Congress.

Since their respective introductions last year, both H.R. 2420 and S. 959 have enjoyed broad bipartisan and bicameral support. They have made their way through the normal legislative process with hearings through their primary committees of jurisdiction. Both have seen versions of their legislative text pass by overwhelming margins in the House of Representatives under suspension of the rules. Support continues to build for their passage.

Last month, the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration conducted legislative hearings on H.R. 2420 and S. 959. Two weeks later, under the leadership of Chairman Blunt and Ranking Member Klobuchar, the Committee favorably reported both bills, without opposition, to the Senate floor for a final vote. After careful negotiations with the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Chairman Murkowski voiced her full support, setting the stage for passage of Senate amendments to H.R. 2420 and S.959.

With near universal support from Congress, as well as the public at large, H.R. 2420 and S. 959 would establish museums under the storied umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution. Each museum within the Smithsonian tells a unique part of the collective history of America, but there are still so many parts left to be told. The National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum will add rich, new perspectives to our American identity that simply cannot be found in Smithsonian museums today. One that fully embraces American women and Latinos in their quests for greater inclusion in society and honors their countless contributions in service to our country.

The Smithsonian is the Nation’s most iconic, public, cultural institution. Millions of guests from around the world travel to Washington, D.C. each year to visit these storied museums. Tens of thousands of American school children make their annual pilgrimage to the District to learn more about American history, space exploration, natural wonders, and more. Yet, many children – more than half are little girls and nearly a quarter are Latino – will wander the halls of each museum without seeing the presence of historical figures who look like them or share their name.

We are reminded by the National Motto, which is enshrined along the halls of Congress, “E Pluribus Unum.” Out of out of many people, we are one. As we strive to become a more perfect Union, Congress must lead the way to ensure all Americans are included in our shared history. We are all part of this grand experiment in democracy and have contributed much to its greatness. Our voices deserve to be heard and our stories deserve to be told for generations to come. Otherwise, the story of America, and its struggles and triumphs, would be rendered incomplete.

We thank you for your careful consideration of this urgent request and understand the delicate nature of on-going negotiations. However, we believe this represents our last best hope in seeing these museums become a reality for millions of Americans who lack historical and cultural representation within the Smithsonian. We stand ready to work with you in any way that we can. The finish line is in sight.

Sincerely,

 

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