Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee blocks legislation for Latino and women history Smithsonians


WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, blocked two proposals on Thursday to create Smithsonian museums for Latino and women’s history from unanimously passing the Senate, saying there’s been too much “balkanization” in the country.

Claiming “the last thing we need is to further divide an already divided nation,” Lee blocked proposals to establish the National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum.

“Within the walls of a Smithsonian museum just like at the National Gallery of Art or the great memorials that dot this city, there is no us and them. There’s only us. And so my objection to the creation of a new Smithsonian museum or series of museums based on group identity, what Theodore Roosevelt called hyphenated Americanism, is not a matter of budgetary or legislative technicalities. It is a matter of national unity and cultural inclusion,” Lee said.

More: In leaked audio, Joe Biden says ‘defund the police’ was used to ‘beat the living hell’ out of Democrats

Supporters of the bipartisan bills to add these museum to the existing Smithsonian Institution collection had hoped to get approval on a voice vote, but as allowed under Senate rules, Lee blocked the bills.

Lee argued that stories of Latinos and women should be told in the existing American History Museum, and if those histories are “being under appropriated” there, “that is a problem and that’s a problem we should address here.”

He stated the museums dedicated to the history of Native Americans and African Americans were separately built because those groups were “uniquely, deliberately, and systemically excluded” from history.

Politics live updates: Progressives criticize Biden nominated Fudge to HUD instead of Agriculture

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., who has been advocating for the National Museum of the American Latino for years, argued: “We have been systematically excluded.”

“Believe me, we have been,” Menendez said passionately on the Senate floor. “And the only righteous way to end that exclusion is to pass this bill.”

Menendez, a co-sponsor of the bipartisan proposal with Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, argued the Smithsonian itself acknowledged it had done a poor job of including Latinos, and their history, in its museums.

“This has been a 20-plus year journey to try and make this museum possible, and one Republican colleague stands in the way,” said Menendez. “It’s pretty outrageous.”

Lee then blocked the Women’s History Museum bill on the Senate floor.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who pushed for a women’s history museum, said she thought this was “a sad moment. I had hoped that we could proceed with both of these bills and pass them before the end of the year.”

“Surely in a year where we’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, this is the time, this is the moment to finally pass the legislation unanimously recommended by an independent commission to establish an American Women’s History Museum in our nation’s capital. I regret that will not occur this evening, but we will not give up the fight,” Collins said.

More: WOMEN OF THE CENTURY

Both bills overwhelmingly passed the House earlier this year. Legislation for the creation of the Latino history museum passed in July with 295 co-sponsors while legislation for the women’s history museum was passed in February with 293 co-sponsors.

The legislation would authorize the process for creating the museums, which would be funded by splitting private donations and public money. Lee argued the issue was that the museums were federally funded.

Since some of that funding “is taken from the American people in the form of a tax revenue” the Smithsonians have an “unique role and responsibility in our culture and as a respository and as a teller of America’s national story,” Lee argued.

More: How civil rights leader James Clyburn helped Joe Biden and Black America win the White House

The GOP senator referred to the proposed museums as “an array of segregated separate, but equal museums for hyphenated identity groups.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sen. Mike Lee blocks Latino and women history Smithsonian museums



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *