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House passes legislation to create Smithsonian Latino museum

House passes legislation to create Smithsonian Latino museum
© Greg Nash

The House passed legislation to establish a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino in Washington, D.C., by voice vote on Monday. 

The bill was introduced in the lower chamber by Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and garnered the support of 295 co-sponsors. 

Under the measure, the Smithsonian would be able to start an 18-month study and select a location on the National Mall for its construction.

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It would also create a board of trustees and kickstart the search for funds as half of the funding for its costs would have to be raised while the other half would be allocated by the federal government. 

The creation of the museum is projected to cost roughly $700 million, proponents of its construction estimate. 

Rep. Pete AguilarPeter (Pete) Ray AguilarOn The Money: Anxious Democrats push for vote on COVID-19 aid | Pelosi, Mnuchin ready to restart talks | Weekly jobless claims increase | Senate treads close to shutdown deadline Anxious Democrats amp up pressure for vote on COVID-19 aid Rep. Robin Kelly enters race for Democratic caucus vice chair MORE (D-Calif.) noted that members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have long advocated for honoring the Latino community’s role in American history, arguing that moving forward with a museum is long overdue. The process to establish one has faced setbacks since efforts to build it first started in 1994.

“It is an important milestone on a decades-long journey and the culmination of years of effort and advocacy by Representative Serrano, my Hispanic Caucus colleagues, and countless outside advocates. The Latino community represents one-sixth of the American population,” he said on the floor.  

“Latinos are an integral part of our history and culture and have been at the center of American progress for generations, and yet study after study has shown that the story of this community, within the broader scope of American history, has not been told. Passage of H.R. 2420 brings us closer to being able to tell this story, a story intertwined with the very history of our country. This is a story that deserves to be honored and recognized.”

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Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisDemocrats seek wave to bolster House majority Hillicon Valley: Big Tech hearing the most partisan yet | Rubio warns about foreign election interference | Trump campaign site briefly hacked The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - Tech execs testify on platforms' liability MORE (R-Ill.) echoed Aguilar’s sentiments, adding that Latinos have played a pivotal role in shaping the nation. 

“This is something we need to do. And I'll probably catch some flack for it later from him, but I have to say, Mr. Aguilar is correct. We ought to do something to honor the Latino community that has made our country the greatest country in the history of the world,” he said.  

“I rise today to support the underlying legislation that would create the first Smithsonian museum honoring Latinos. Again, our country would not be what it is today without their contributions."

A companion bill has been introduced in the upper chamber, which has also garnered bipartisan support.