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Senate committee advances bill for national Latino museum

Senate committee advances bill for national Latino museum
© Aaron Schwartz

The Senate Rules Committee on Thursday decided to move forward with two pieces of legislation that would establish a Smithsonian National Museum of the American Latino and the American Women’s History Museum. 

In a unanimous vote the committee moved to send both bills to a full Senate vote, with hopes that they could be signed into law by President TrumpDonald TrumpIran convicts American businessman on spying charge: report DC, state capitals see few issues, heavy security amid protest worries Pardon-seekers have paid Trump allies tens of thousands to lobby president: NYT MORE before 2021.

“Now is the time for this Congress to finish what was started almost two decades ago,” Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezYear-end deal creates American Latino, women's history museums Lawmakers call for including creation of Latino, women's history museums in year-end spending deal Trump offered 0 million to terrorism victims to save Sudan-Israel deal  MORE (D-N.J.), the highest-ranking Latino in Congress and co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation for the Latino museum, said in a statement.

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“Let us ensure that soon, a Museum of the American Latino will stand on our National Mall and officially acknowledge that the success of this country could not have been accomplished without the achievements of Hispanic Americans,” he said.

Senator Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGoogle completes Fitbit acquisition Hillicon Valley: Fringe social networks boosted after Capitol attack | Planned protests spark fears of violence in Trump's final days | Election security efforts likely to gain ground in Democrat-controlled Congress US Chamber of Commerce to stop supporting some lawmakers following the Capitol riots MORE (Minn.), lead Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, shared similar sentiments.

“When families come to Washington and visit the Smithsonian museums, many learn about the history of our nation for the first time in a place where so much of it happens,” Klobuchar said. “Establishing a women’s history museum and a Latino American museum are critical to expanding our understanding of the remarkable contributions made by women and Latino Americans to the fabric of our country. I urge the full Senate to consider these two bills before the end of the year.”

Legislation for the creation of a Smithsonian museum to honor the Latino community was introduced in the lower chamber by Rep. José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and passed with 295 co-sponsors in July.

"This is the pivotal moment for the American Latino Museum campaign that has been in the works since 1994. It's not across the finish line yet, but we're very close," Estuardo Rodríguez, president and CEO of Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino, said of the legislation at the time.

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Thursday, he confirmed his confidence that the bill will move forward.

"It can be done quickly, and based on the level of bipartisan support, we're confident it can happen," he told NBC News.

The Latino museum is estimated to cost nearly $700 million to build, and if passed the bill will allow the Smithsonian to start an 18-month study and select a location on the National Mall for its construction.