House

16 House Republicans vote against bill to promote education on internment camps

Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Col.)
Greg Nash

More than a dozen House Republicans on Wednesday voted against legislation to promote public education about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II.

The bipartisan bill was authored by Republican Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.) and passed handily by a vote of 406-16. All of the no votes came from Republicans, including several members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

The Republicans who registered their opposition were Reps. Lauren Boebert (Colo.), Mo Brooks (Ala.), Michael Cloud (Texas), Louie Gohmert (Texas), Bob Good (Va.), Marjorie Taylor Greene (Ga.), Andy Harris (Md.), Clay Higgins (La.), Trey Hollingsworth (Ind.), Doug LaMalfa (Calif.), Thomas Massie (Ky.), Mary Miller (Ill.), Ralph Norman (S.C.), Matt Rosendale (Mont.), Chip Roy (Texas) and Van Taylor (Texas).

A spokesperson for LaMalfa told The Hill that the California Republican supports the overall idea behind the bill but that his opposition stemmed from local concerns that a historical site in his district does not currently have sufficient capacity for tourists. 

Harris said that the House should be prioritizing other legislation.  
 
“While a war is raging in Europe, gas prices are over four dollars a gallon, our open southern border allows fentanyl to enter our country and kill our youth, and there is record violence in our cities, Americans expect Congress should be spending our time on these issues,” Harris said in a statement. 
 
A spokesperson for Roy’s office said the opposition to the bill stemmed from the belief that the federal government shouldn’t be involved.
 
“Rep. Roy believes this matter should not be the responsibility of the federal government and that it would be best handled by private and charitable entities,” a spokesperson said. 

It wasn’t immediately clear why others voted against the legislation. The Hill has reached out to the lawmakers’ offices for comment.

The bill would specifically create a Japanese American World War II history network administered by the National Park Service to connect historical sites associated with the mass internment of Japanese Americans after the attack on Pearl Harbor launched by Japan’s military.

No one spoke in opposition to the legislation during the brief House floor debate. Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, said that the program “will be an important tool to ensure that this history, no matter how painful it may be, is always remembered, and the important stories of interned Japanese Americans are told with honor and respect.”

The House also passed a separate bill by voice vote on Tuesday that would permanently authorize another program dedicated to preserving the confinement sites and establish a grant program to promote education about the internment of Japanese Americans.

About 120,000 people of Japanese descent were forced to live in detention camps as a result of a 1942 executive order from former President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Most of those people were American citizens.

The U.S. government didn’t move to close the camps until the end of 1944.

Passage of both bills coincided with the one-year anniversary on Wednesday of the shootings at three spas in Atlanta that killed six Asian American women. 

Multiple GOP-led state legislatures have passed measures in recent months to prevent schools or businesses from teaching critical race theory, or the idea that certain policies perpetuate systemic racism.

The Florida state Senate, for example, passed a bill last week that prohibits any instruction that says someone “must feel guilt, anguish, or other forms of psychological distress” for their race or sex. It also bans teachings that state certain races or sexes are privileged or oppressed.

Updated: 10:10 p.m.

Tags Andy Harris Bruce Westerman Chip Roy Clay Higgins Doug LaMalfa Japanese American internment Lauren Boebert Louie Gohmert Marjorie Taylor Greene Mo Brooks Ralph Norman Thomas Massie Trey Hollingsworth Van Taylor

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