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Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month

Location: Washington, DC

HONORING HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 15, 2004)

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I recognize Hispanic Heritage Month, which begins on September 15, the anniversary of independence for five Latin American countries-Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Additionally, Mexico declared its independence on September 16, and Chile on September 18. These are some of the countries that comprise our diverse ethnic group, which have enriched our beautiful Nation.

The 2000 Census found that 35.3 million people identified themselves as Hispanic Americans. This represents a 58-percent increase from the previous Census of 1990. Hispanic Americans continue to thrive and exemplify the American dream. A larger percentage of Hispanic Americans are becoming proud homeowners. Hispanic-owned companies made up 6 percent of the Nation's 20.8 million nonfarm businesses, and earned $186.3 billion in revenues. Since 1822, 73 Hispanic Americans have served in this very Chamber, in the U.S. House of Representatives.

In March of last year, the Congressional Hispanic Conference, of which I am proud to serve as chair, was inaugurated. We are comprised of a group of Representatives of Hispanic and Portuguese descent, as well as Members who are interested in promoting policies of importance to Americans of Latino descent. The Conference will inform Hispanic Americans that their issues and concerns are being listened to and acted upon in the U.S. Congress. Lower taxes, affordable health care, and the education of our youth are all issues that are imperative to our conservative values. We will be strong advocates to ensure that the largest minority group in the United States has a loud and powerful voice in the Halls of Congress.

Educational advancement and funding continues to be an important issue for all Americans, especially Hispanics. Congress has increased funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions by more than 750 percent-from $10.8 million in 1996 to $92.4 million in 2003. The Bush administration has also proposed an additional 5-percent increase in funding for minority serving institutions in FY05. This would increase funding for Hispanic Serving Institutions to $94 million. This vital funding works to advance the educational pursuits of Hispanic Americans across our country.

Congress continues to amend and improve tax policy to the benefit of all Americans. H.R. 839, The Renewing the Dream Tax Credit Act, modifies the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow an income tax credit for the provision of homeownership and community development. This bill would create tax incentives for the construction or rehabilitation of affordable housing for low-income families. The ability to afford and own your own home is a quintessential part of living and pursuing the American dream.

This Congress and our President are committed to ensuring that Hispanic Americans continue to seek economic opportunities and achieve prosperity. The huge increases in educational funding are unprecedented and will continue to serve the needs of the ever-growing Hispanic American community. A stronger, smarter, and fairer tax policy will continue to serve the needs of all Americans. A vibrant, stronger, and more educated Hispanic American population contributes to the greatness of this wonderful nation making us competitive for the new global economy in this technologically advanced society.

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