Proposed Smithsonian Latino museum gains support in Congress

The push for the first Smithsonian Latino museum in the United States is gaining momentum.

Congress held its first hearing on the issue last week. The hearing in the U.S. House was historic because it could give federal funding for the first-ever Smithsonian Latino Museum in Washington, D.C.

But there is still a long-road ahead before the doors open. The hearing focused on the bill in Congress that would authorize funding and secure a location alongside other iconic Smithsonian museums on the National Mall.

That includes $20 million in the upcoming budget Congress has to pass next month, and another $15 million to the Institute of Museum and Library Services in order to establish the museum itself.

This is could take years and likely hundreds of millions of dollars more to complete. But right now, there is significant bipartisan support in both the House and Senate so there is a lot of hope Congress can get this done soon.

The push comes as the Census Bureau estimates more than 58 million Latinos live in the United States, which makes up 18 percent of the U.S. population; that is the largest ethnic population in the country.

Puerto Rico’s Resident Commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon and Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro are two of the bill’s original co-sponsors and are among its biggest supporters.

“I truly believe this will change a lot of the perception about the Latino community not just in the United States, but also help us out with our allies in Latin America,” Gonzalez-Colon said.

“It will allow us to celebrate the immeasurable contributions Latinos have made to American history,” Castro said.

So far, the House bill has 221 co-sponsors. If it reaches 290 co-sponsors, it will be automatically brought to the floor for a vote.