Congressional leadership should include two pieces of bipartisan, bicameral legislation to establish new Smithsonian museums in the year-end omnibus appropriations package, urged U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Will Hurd (R-TX).
Specifically, the National Museum of the American Latino Act, H.R. 2420, and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum Act, S. 959, should be included in any final fiscal year 2021 omnibus package considered before the end of the 116th Congress, wrote the lawmakers in a Dec. 11 letter sent to U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and U.S. House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
“We thank you for your careful consideration of this urgent request and understand the delicate nature of on-going negotiations,” wrote Sen. Collins, Rep. Hurd, Rep. Fitzpatrick, and five of their colleagues. “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.”
Sen. Collins in March 2019 introduced S. 959 with cosponsor U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who also signed the bipartisan, bicameral letter. The measure has 16 other cosponsors.
Rep. Hurd in April 2019 introduced H.R. 2420 with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), another member who signed the letter. The bill has 294 other cosponsors.
Both bills have made their way through the normal legislative process with hearings through their primary committees of jurisdiction, according to the lawmakers’ letter, which noted that each bill also has seen versions of their legislative text pass by overwhelming margins in the U.S. House of Representatives under suspension of the rules.
“With near universal support from Congress, as well as the public at large, H.R. 2420 and S. 959 would establish museums under the umbrella of the Smithsonian Institution,” the members wrote. “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.”