Sunday, May 19, 2024

Senator Mike Lee Blocks Votes for Latino & Women Museums

Republican Senator Mike Lee from Utah blocked consideration for legislation to establish a National Museum for Latino and for Women stating that the United States does not need “separate but equal museums”.

Lee further stated, “”I understand what my colleagues are trying to do and why. I respect what they’re trying to do. I even share their interests in ensuring that these stories are told. But the last thing we need is to further divide an already divided nation with an array of segregated, separate-but-equal museums for hyphenated identity groups. At this moment in the history of our diverse nation, we need our federal government and the Smithsonian Institution itself to pull us closer together and not further apart. [The Smithsonian Institution] should not have an exclusive museum of American Latino history or a museum of women’s history or museum of American men’s history or Mormon history or Asian-American history or Catholic history. American history is an inclusive story that should unite us.”

Lee’s opposition to the bill attracted immediate reaction from Democrat Senator Bob Menendez from New Jersey, who has also been advocating for a Latino museum for a longtime. When interviewed he stated, “The House of Representatives passed this on voice. The Rules Committee passed it on voice in a bipartisan manner. And tonight, one colleague stands in the way. One Republican colleague from Utah stands in the way of the hopes and dreams and aspirations of seeing Americans of Latino descent having their dreams fulfilled and being recognized. Just being recognized”.

Lee also blocked the legislation to establish the American Women’s History Museum, to which Senator Susan Collins of Maine, responded, “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 that will not occur this evening, but we will not give up the fight”.

The National Museum of the American Latino bill is an effort to bring representation and recognition to Latinos the United States. In 1994, a report titled, Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Latinos, found that the Smithsonian demonstrated a pattern of excluding and ignoring the presence and contributions of Latinos in the workforce and exhibition halls.