US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Majority Leader Reid (D-NV), US Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), US Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) and US Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) today introduced bipartisan legislation in the Senate and House of Representatives to authorize the Smithsonian's Arts and Industries building on the National Mall as the designated location of the Smithsonian American Latino Museum. The authorization of the museum follows the recommendations of the May 2011 report of the bipartisan Commission to Study the Potential Creation of the National Museum of American Latino, a Commission that was established by law in 2008.
Senator Menendez said: "With this legislation we continue moving forward with the creation of national museum that honors the countless political, cultural, and economic contributions of the Latino community. One step at a time, 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. A Museum of the American Latino would officially acknowledge that the success of this country could not have been accomplished without the achievements of Hispanic Americans. I applaud the Commission's work, and look forward to continue working with my colleagues in the Senate to make this museum a reality."
Senator Reid said: "A museum honoring the contributions of Americans of Hispanic descent has been long overdue. This bill brings it one step closer to reality. The influence of Hispanic Americans in Nevada, who represent a quarter of our state's population, is reflected everywhere: from the name, which refers to the snow-capped mountain peaks of our beautiful Sierra, to its businesses, classrooms and work places. I commend the National Museum of the American Latino Commission for its report to Congress and thank Sen. Menendez for his steadfast leadership on this issue. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues toward the realization of an institution that illustrates the legacy, culture, history and contributions of the American Latino in the United States."
Senator Rubio said: "Authorizing the use of federal land on the National Mall is an important step in laying the ground work to establish the American Latino Museum. This will be an enduring monument to people who have found opportunity and refuge in America and strengthened her in return, while also serving as a tribute to this exceptional country which welcomes people and helps them realize their dreams like no other place has ever done in all of human history. At a time when our nation faces major economic and fiscal challenges, I am pleased that this effort will not rely on taxpayer dollars and that this bill will encourage private fundraising efforts to make it a reality."
Congressman Becerra said: "Over the past eighteen years the call has grown stronger and stronger to establish such a museum on our National Mall that shares the rich and full story of what it means to be an American," said Rep. Xavier Becerra (CA-31). "Today marks a key moment in our effort to ensure that the contributions of Americans of Latino descent receive the respect and recognition earned by a patriotic community of Americans who have served this nation since its inception and now number over 50 million. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this bill and to supporting the Smithsonian Institution in an important new chapter of its work to increase understanding of the American experience."
Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen said: "This legislation brings us one step closer to realizing an American Latino Museum. The experience of Hispanic Americans is part of the American story. Their successes and triumphs helped fuel this nation's rise and will continue to contribute to our country's greatness. Having the museum be part of the Smithsonian family underscores this reality. I look forward to working with my congressional colleagues to make this museum a reality."