WASHINGTON (Nexstar) — A single Republican senator blocked a vote on legislation to plan Smithsonian museums on the National Mall honoring contributions of Latino Americans and women to American society.
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah argues a Latino History Museum would divide Americans.
“The Smithsonian Institution should not have an exclusive museum of American Latino history or a museum of women’s history or a museum of men’s history,” Lee said on the floor of the Senate. “The so-called critical theory undergirding this movement does not celebrate diversity. It weaponizes diversity.”
Lee said the Smithsonian museums celebrating Native Americans and African Americans are different because those groups have been systemically excluded from American history and museums.
But New Jersey Democrat Bob Menendez took issue with that argument.
“Oh, no, we’re somehow not systemically excluded. Believe me, we have been,” Menendez said. “And the only righteous way to end that excursion is to pass this bill.”
In 1994, the Smithsonian Institution acknowledged it almost entirely excludes and ignores Latinos and recommended a Latino History Museum be built.
The proposed Women’s and Latino museums also have strong support from Republicans like John Cornyn of Texas and Maine’s Susan Collins.
“It seems wrong that one senator can block consideration,” Collins said.
Lawmakers vowed to keep fighting for the creation of the museums.