FederalIssuesSen. Cornyn’s Legislation to Establish American Latino Museum Signed into Law with Omnibus

As part of the 5,600-page bill approved by Congress and signed by the president, the Smithsonian will begin planning the creation of an American Latino Museum.
January 1, 2021
The Smithsonian will begin work on establishing the Museum of the American Latino after legislation from Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) was included in the annual congressional omnibus and signed by the president.

“For decades, Texans have advocated for greater representation of American Latino stories in our nation’s capital, and I’m proud to announce that together, we have ensured the National Museum of the American Latino will become a reality,” said Cornyn in a press release.

The legislation authorizes an immediate $15 million for a grant program to support American Latino museums and $20 million for planning the museum.

In total, the project is estimated to cost $700 million, and the legislation stipulates that the federal government will provide funding for half of the project while outside fundraising will cover the other half.

Included in the bill is a stipulation the newly created Board of Trustees for the project “shall ensure that the exhibits and programs of the Museum reflect the diversity of the political viewpoints held by Latinos of the United States on the events and issues relating to the history of Latinos in the United States.”

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The House of Representatives approved the legislation in July by voice vote.

Although no roll call vote was taken on the bill, it was cosponsored by all Democrats in the Texas delegation and 14 Republicans.

Reps. Joaquin Castro (D-TX-20), Will Hurd (R-TX-23), and Sylvia Garcia (D-TX-29) all signed on as original cosponsors when the bill was introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY).

The legislation was likewise approved in early December by the Senate Rules Committee alongside a plan to establish the American Women’s History Museum.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) praised the bill when it was approved by the committee, stating, “A museum dedicated to preserving and celebrating American Latino history and culture would go a long way in recognizing the contributions Latinos and Latinas made to our great country.”

“For generations, American Latinos have selflessly served in our military, achieved the American Dream, and contributed to our nation’s economic prosperity, while enriching our nation’s diverse identity. Not only would this museum celebrate the contributions of American Latinos – it would also broaden our understanding of 21st-century America,” said Cruz.

When the Senate attempted to approve the legislation through unanimous consent, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) objected, arguing that the new museums would fuel “hyphenated Americanism” instead of fostering national unity.

Instead of bringing the legislation back to the floor for a vote, the legislation was added to the 5,600-page government spending and coronavirus relief bill.

Though President Trump signaled his disapproval of the package, he ultimately signed the bill on Sunday and with it approved the creation of the two new museums.

“After more than 20 years of work, we were able to get this bill unanimously through the House, and today we reach another milestone with its approval through this year’s funding bill. I am proud to be a leader in this effort, and I look forward to the day when the stories of my constituents are forever memorialized for millions of expected visitors from all over the world to see,” said Rep. Will Hurd in a press release from the Friends of the American Latino Museum.


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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.