Year-end deal creates American Latino, women’s history museums

A sweeping year-end deal to provide coronavirus relief and fund the government also greenlights the creation of two new museums.

The deal, text of which was released Monday afternoon, will create the National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum, after separate bills for the two museums were blocked earlier this month on the Senate floor.

“This is a big win for Latinos all across our country. We will finally have a Latino Museum that elevates our stories & history,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) tweeted Monday about the inclusion of legislation to create the American Latino museum.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) tweeted that the creation of a women’s history museum “has been years in the making, and I am thrilled that we are finally set to pass this historic legislation.”

“How fitting that we pass this bill as we mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment and in the year in which we elected our first woman vice president,” she added.

Sponsors of the bills creating both museums sent congressional leadership a letter earlier this month pushing for legislation authorizing both to be included in any year-end deal.

“Each museum within the Smithsonian tells a unique part of the collective history of America, but there are still so many parts left to be told. The National Museum of the American Latino and Smithsonian American Women’s History Museum will add rich, new perspectives to our American identity that simply cannot be found in Smithsonian museums today,” they wrote.

The House passed bills earlier this year to create both museums.

But supporters ran into a roadblock in the Senate when Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) blocked the bills to create the museums. Under Senate rules any one senator can try to pass a bill but any one senator can object.

Lee, speaking from the Senate floor, argued that they should be folded into current Smithsonian museums.

“If American Latino or women’s history are being under appropriated at the Museum of American History, that is a problem and that’s a problem we should address here. I’ll happily work … to correct those problems, even if it means more money, more exhibits, new floors, or wings,” Lee said.

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