WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Bob Menendez’s bipartisan National Museum of the American Latino Act took a major step forward today, quickly advancing out of the Senate Rules Committee with unanimous support. The approval follows testimony last week from Menendez, the highest-ranked Latino in Congress, urging the committee to authorize the Smithsonian Institution to create the museum, located on the National Mall, honoring the contributions and sacrifices of American Latinos.  The legislation was approved by the House of Representatives in July

“As a proud Cuban American and the lead Senate sponsor of this legislation, I’m so thankful to see us finally take this big step forward toward the creation of a national museum that honors the countless political, cultural and economic contributions of the Latino community,” said Sen. Menendez.  “Slowly, tirelessly, but surely, we are bringing to fruition a long overdue project to honor and document the influence American Latinos have had in weaving the cultural and historical fabric of American life throughout our nation's history.”


“Now is the time for this Congress to finish what was started almost two decades ago,” he added. “Let us ensure that soon, a Museum of the American Latino will stand on our National Mall and officially acknowledge that the success of this country could not have been accomplished without the achievements of Hispanic Americans.”

The National Museum of the American Latino Act was introduced in May 2019 in both Houses by Sens. Menendez and John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Reps. Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Will Hurd (R-Texas).  The museum would educate current and future generations on the vast political, social, cultural and economic contributions to American life by Latino Americans.

Specifically, the National Museum of the American Latino Act would: 

  • Board of Trustees: Creates a 19-member Board of Trustees to help plan and design the construction of the Museum, and; develop the Museum’s collections in order to showcase the life, art, history and culture of American Latinos and their contributions to the United States. 
  • Educational Grants and Scholarships: Authorizes the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services in to establish grants and educational programs for children and adults to learn about Latino life, art, history and culture. 
  • Site Designation: Allows the Board of Trustees to explore several sites for either the new construction or development of the Museum.

In addition to Sen. Menendez, the bill is cosponsored by Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.V.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), and Jon Tester (D-Mont.).  

In 2008, with Presidential and Congressional leadership, a 23-member Commission was established to study the viability of a museum.  Sen. Menendez and Majority Leady Harry Reid first introduced Senate legislation to establish a Latino museum in 2011 following the Commission’s report that determined the museum’s creation was indeed feasible.  Sen. Menendez introduced similar legislation again in 20132016, and 2017 before the current bill was introduced last year.  As a member of the House of Represenatives, Sen. Menendez cosponsored the original bill to create a Commission to Establish the National Museum of the American Latino, introduced in 2003.

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