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Smithsonian Latino museum under threat after Reublican lawmakers move to block funding | Planet Attractions
     

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Smithsonian Latino museum under threat after Reublican lawmakers move to block funding

A new bill passed by the US’s House Appropriations Committee could jeopardise the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino by effectively banning the institution from spending tax payer money on the project




The bill effectively bans the Smithsonian from spending federal funds on the museum   Credit: Canva

The US’s House Appropriations Committee has passed a new bill that could jeopardise the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino.

The interior and environment funding bill was drafted by the committee’s Republican majority and effectively bans the Smithsonian from spending federal funds on the museum.

The bill poses a major threat to the museum, which was approved by Congress in 2020, as part of a US$900bn (€734bn, £666bn) Covid relief package that would see the development of both the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

During the Appropriations hearing, New York representative Adriano Espaillat introduced an amendment that would restore funding to the museum but it was outvoted 33-27.

“The Latino community is not monolithic. We are very diverse and the fact that Republicans want to drive a stake into the heart of the Smithsonian Museum honouring the Latino culture in America is unacceptable,” Espaillat said in a social media post.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said: “The Latino community is so integral to America’s heritage, it baffles me why the majority would block the Smithsonian from highlighting their historic and cultural contributions – especially since Congress created this museum.”

The bill’s approval now means that the museum will have no federal support, which accounted for more than half of its funding with the other half coming from private donors. It also means that any potential funding will be subject to contentious and “highly-politicised” Congressional budget negotiations.

“This is an unfortunate roadblock: to now be talking about zeroing out funding to the museum,” Estuardo Rodrígues, president and CEO of Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino told The Hill.

The Smithsonian had been seeking a permanent home for the museum on the National Mall and had been lobbying Congress to approve construction at one of two possible sites.

It has been reported that Republicans stripped the museum of its funding due to a dispute over the content of its ¡Presente! exhibition.

Billed as the “first physical presence of the National Museum of the American Latino”, the exhibition is currently housed inside the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History.

Since first opening, ¡Presente! has been subject to some backlash, with its critics saying that the exhibition “reflects an ideological view” of left-leaning totalitarian governments, and emphasises European colonialism, forced migration and US interventions that bolstered right-wing dictatorships in Latin America.

“The museum almost myopically portrays Latinos as an oppressed monolith united largely by their victimhood, neglecting the nuanced and varied experiences, including remarkable successes of the American Latino,” said a statement in the bill report.

Idaho representative Mike Simpson added: “Republican Hispanic members have expressed serious concerns that these Smithsonian exhibits depict Hispanic Americans as victims and promote socialism.”

The museum’s supporters however have said it is unfair to judge the museum on an exhibition that was conceived prior to its approval in 2020 and before the appointment of founding director Jorge Zamanillo.

The interior and environment funding bill is set to go before the House of Representatives next where it is expected to be voted through due to Republican majority, however, with a Democrat majority in the Senate it remains to be seen whether or not the National Museum of the American Latino will lose its funding entirely.


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Smithsonian Latino museum under threat after Reublican lawmakers move to block funding | Planet Attractions
news

Smithsonian Latino museum under threat after Reublican lawmakers move to block funding

A new bill passed by the US’s House Appropriations Committee could jeopardise the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino by effectively banning the institution from spending tax payer money on the project




The bill effectively bans the Smithsonian from spending federal funds on the museum   Credit: Canva

The US’s House Appropriations Committee has passed a new bill that could jeopardise the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino.

The interior and environment funding bill was drafted by the committee’s Republican majority and effectively bans the Smithsonian from spending federal funds on the museum.

The bill poses a major threat to the museum, which was approved by Congress in 2020, as part of a US$900bn (€734bn, £666bn) Covid relief package that would see the development of both the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum.

During the Appropriations hearing, New York representative Adriano Espaillat introduced an amendment that would restore funding to the museum but it was outvoted 33-27.

“The Latino community is not monolithic. We are very diverse and the fact that Republicans want to drive a stake into the heart of the Smithsonian Museum honouring the Latino culture in America is unacceptable,” Espaillat said in a social media post.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said: “The Latino community is so integral to America’s heritage, it baffles me why the majority would block the Smithsonian from highlighting their historic and cultural contributions – especially since Congress created this museum.”

The bill’s approval now means that the museum will have no federal support, which accounted for more than half of its funding with the other half coming from private donors. It also means that any potential funding will be subject to contentious and “highly-politicised” Congressional budget negotiations.

“This is an unfortunate roadblock: to now be talking about zeroing out funding to the museum,” Estuardo Rodrígues, president and CEO of Friends of the National Museum of the American Latino told The Hill.

The Smithsonian had been seeking a permanent home for the museum on the National Mall and had been lobbying Congress to approve construction at one of two possible sites.

It has been reported that Republicans stripped the museum of its funding due to a dispute over the content of its ¡Presente! exhibition.

Billed as the “first physical presence of the National Museum of the American Latino”, the exhibition is currently housed inside the Molina Family Latino Gallery at the National Museum of American History.

Since first opening, ¡Presente! has been subject to some backlash, with its critics saying that the exhibition “reflects an ideological view” of left-leaning totalitarian governments, and emphasises European colonialism, forced migration and US interventions that bolstered right-wing dictatorships in Latin America.

“The museum almost myopically portrays Latinos as an oppressed monolith united largely by their victimhood, neglecting the nuanced and varied experiences, including remarkable successes of the American Latino,” said a statement in the bill report.

Idaho representative Mike Simpson added: “Republican Hispanic members have expressed serious concerns that these Smithsonian exhibits depict Hispanic Americans as victims and promote socialism.”

The museum’s supporters however have said it is unfair to judge the museum on an exhibition that was conceived prior to its approval in 2020 and before the appointment of founding director Jorge Zamanillo.

The interior and environment funding bill is set to go before the House of Representatives next where it is expected to be voted through due to Republican majority, however, with a Democrat majority in the Senate it remains to be seen whether or not the National Museum of the American Latino will lose its funding entirely.


 



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