Efforts to create a national Asian Pacific American museum in Washington, D.C., pushed ahead Tuesday with House passage of legislation that would create a commission to study the issue.
The bill approved unanimously by the House would establish a new commission to consider the feasibility of a new National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture. The measure now heads to the Senate.
The commission would be tasked with studying the costs involved with the proposed National Museum of Asian Pacific American History and Culture, whether it should be considered as part of the Smithsonian Institution and possible locations in the Washington-area.
“It’s a joy to see this AAPI museum study bill arrive at this point today,” said Rep. Grace Meng, D-N.Y., referring to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
During the floor debate, Meng said Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have shaped the nation's history from its earliest days, from the Chinese laborers who helped build the transcontinental railroad to today's contributions made in culture and the economy.
“Those contributions are often unheard of and simply forgotten,” she said. “It is time to change that.”
The legislation comes as visitors have flocked to the latest addition to the National Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened in 2016. Plans are underway for two other museums, the National Museum of the American Latino and the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum.
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Republican Rep. Cliff Bentz, R-Ore., said that while he supports the bill, he has concerns he hopes will be answered about the financial and operational challenges that an additional museum to the Smithsonian's portfolio could pose.
The commission would have 18 months to report its findings back to Congress and the president. The bill was approved without objections or the need for a roll call vote.
Rep. Andy Kim, D-N.J., spoke of having endured taunts about his heritage and wanting his own young sons to grow up proud of their background.
“I don’t want my kids to understand who they are through sources of hate and discrimination,” he said during the floor debate.
“I want them to feel pride,” Kim said. “Our story is not just an Asian American story, it’s an American story.”