The House passed legislation on Tuesday to eliminate dated references to racial minorities, such as “Negro” and “Oriental,” that remain in parts of federal regulations.
Passed easily by voice vote, the bill authored by Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesSinema in Arizona as Democrats try to get spending-infrastructure deal LIVE COVERAGE: Biden tries to unify divided House Democrats search for sweet spot below .5 trillion price tag MORE (D-N.Y.) targets the use of the terms in two specific regulations regarding Agriculture Department programs for financing loans for properties in rural areas and the 1974 development plan for Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C.
Any reference to the term “Negro” would be replaced with “Black or African American”; “Spanish surname” with “Hispanic”; “Oriental” with “Asian American or Pacific Islander”; and “Eskimo” and “Aleut” with “Alaska Native.”
Currently, the sections of the regulations that seek to define minority groups — in the context of an affirmative action plan in the development for Pennsylvania Avenue and racial data on beneficiaries of the loan programs — include the terms now considered outdated or offensive.
“Words definitely matter. They can cause great harm and division, particularly when they are embedded in federal statute,” Jeffries said during House floor debate.
Congress previously enacted a law under then-President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAbrams targets Black churchgoers during campaign stops for McAuliffe in Virginia Virginia race looms as dark cloud over Biden's agenda The root of Joe Biden's troubles MORE last year that eliminated the use of “Oriental,” “Negro” and other racial terms in two other sections of the U.S. code establishing the Department of Energy and the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act.
“Repealing this term is long overdue. ‘Oriental’ no longer deserves a place in federal law, and very shortly it will finally be a thing of the past,” Rep. Grace MengGrace MengAfghanistan evacuation flights resume after pause House Democrats include immigration priorities as they forward DHS funding bill Here's what Congress is reading at the beach this summer MORE (D-N.Y.), the author of the 2016 law, said at the time.