Lofgren Statement about House Passage of the National Museum of the American Latino Act

Jul 27, 2020
Press Release

San Jose, Calif. – Committee on House Administration Chairperson Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) issued the following statement today after the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2420, legislation to establish the National Museum of the American Latino in the Smithsonian Institution:

“I’m proud to support this important legislation which brings the Smithsonian Institution one step closer to establishing the National Museum of the American Latino.

“I represent San Jose and Santa Clara County in California.  My hometown, a vibrantly diverse community, is home to Northern California's largest Mexican American population.  I have seen firsthand how their contributions – so truly emblematic of the American experience – enrich the fabric of our society, enliven our culture, and shape our collective identity.  While San Jose is unique in many ways, there is little doubt the contributions of Latino Americans, stretching back in time to the very founding of our nation, have similarly enhanced the culture and daily life of communities across the country.

“The Smithsonian Institution is a renowned collection which celebrates our heritage and educates the public about our history and culture – but it is incomplete.  As my colleague Representative Jose Serrano, the author of this legislation, testified at a February Committee on House Administration hearing, ‘Latino art and history is noticeably absent from recognition in many cultural institutions across the Nation, including the Smithsonian.  To deny the telling of these stories not only does a disservice to our contributions and sacrifices, but also renders American history incomplete.’

“Today’s passage of H.R. 2420 will begin the long-overdue process of bringing brick and mortar reality to the dream of having a museum dedicated to telling an important, but often overlooked American story.  I thank Representative Serrano for his years of work on this legislation, without his vision and perseverance this cause would not have received the recognition it deserves.”

 

Background:

In 2008, Congress approved legislation establishing a Commission to Study the Potential Creation of a National Museum of American Latino Heritage.  In 2011, the Commission produced a final report outlining its affirmative recommendation for the establishment and maintenance of a National Museum of the American Latino, including the availability and cost of collections, cost of construction and operation of the Museum, impact of the Museum on regional Latino- and Hispanic-related museums, governance and organizational structure for the Museum’s operations, possible location of the Museum in Washington, D.C., and whether the Museum should be established within the Smithsonian Institution.

Introduced by Representative José Serrano (D-N.Y.), Congressman Will Hurd (R-Texas) Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), Congressman Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), and Congresswoman Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Wash.), H.R. 2420 would establish the National Museum of the American Latino in the Smithsonian Institution.  It would follow the plan for the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC).  It would establish the position of Director as well as a Board of Trustees and follow the successful cost-sharing framework of the NMAAHC by providing for a 50-50 split between federal and non-federal funds in constructing the museum and support facilities.

In February, the Committee on House Administration held a hearing, “Oversight Of The Smithsonian Institution: Opportunities For Growth By Honoring Latino Americans And Asian Pacific Americans.”  This hearing discussed H.R. 2420, the compelling need to establish a National Museum of the American Latino, and addressed questions regarding financing for the construction of the museum building and its operating costs, as well as the location, size, and scope of the Museum.

This legislation was approved by the House of Representatives on July 27, 2020 by a unanimous voice vote.

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Issues: 
Congress Number: 
116th Congress