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Bills Approving Smithsonian Site for National American Latino Museum Continue to Wait in House of Representatives, Senate

First Posted: Oct 21, 2014 02:12 PM EDT
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Photo : Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino/Facebook

A national Smithsonian museum dedicated to American Latino history is still awaiting approval from a slow-moving Congress.

A presidential commission decided on creating the museum in 2011, Fox News Latino reports.

"It would be dedicated exclusively to Latino history and culture, so that we understand the 500-year history [of Latinos in the U.S.], so that Americans can know our story," said Cid Wilson, chairman of the Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, an advocacy group for the museum.

The museum would be built in the Arts and Industries Building on the National Mall; the building is not being used for anything currently.

Still, Congress has failed to approve bills needed to turn the site into a museum. There are bills in both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

"The challenge with this bill has less to do with the actual bill, and more to do with the current [divisive] environment happening in Congress," Wilson said

According to FNL, some lawmakers think another Washington, D.C., museum dedicated to minorities is unnecessary, considering the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian.

Other politicians disagree, however.

Amongst supporters in the Senate are New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez, Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Meanwhile, Republican Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democratic California Rep. Xavier Becerra are supporting the bill in the House.

"We can't even get started on the fundraising until Congress approves the bill," Wilson said. "The bill does not include appropriation. It would be funded through fundraising."

Rep. Jose Serrano spoke to the New York City Council on Oct. 14. The New York Democrat asked the council to approve a resolution that would call on Congress to make a move.

"Latinos and Latinas have been an integral part of the United States for over 200 years," he said. "With this museum, we will be addressing the underrepresentation of American Latino art and culture in the Smithsonian Institution. This museum can teach the American people about the great contributions that Latinos have given our country, from the great Roberto Clemente in baseball, to the talented Jenni Rivera in music, to Justice Sonia Sotomayor in the Supreme Court, the United States has been deeply enriched by the Latino community."

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