Washington, D.C. (July 15, 2016) — Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 231-196 to pass H.R. 5538, the FY 2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill. This bill provides funding for the Department of the Interior and includes key provisions authored by Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) that will benefit the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, including tripling funding for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and fulfilling the President’s funding request for the historic preservation of World War II Japanese American confinement sites. CAPAC Members released the following statements:
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair:
“The annual interior appropriations bill is critically important in preserving our nation’s heritage and environment. I am pleased that the House bill includes Congresswoman Grace Meng’s provision to triple the current funding for the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center which will allow the Center to add necessary staff positions and increase cultural outreach across the country. The bill also fulfills the President Obama’s funding request to preserve World War II Japanese American confinement sites where thousands of innocent Japanese Americans were imprisoned during WWII. These sites serve as a critical reminder to future generations of the costs of xenophobia and the ongoing need to remain vigilant in upholding the civil and constitutional rights of all Americans.
“Despite these achievements, the bill fails to fully fund other key AAPI priorities, including assistance to the U.S. territories and the Historic Preservation Fund. The bill also fails to provide many basic functions of government, underfunds the Environmental Protection Agency, and includes harmful riders that endanger the health and safety of Americans as well as the preservation of our environment and natural resources.
“Going forward, I urge Congress to fully fund the AAPI community’s top priorities and put aside partisanship when it comes to seriously addressing our nation’s health and environmental well-being.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus:
“The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II constituted one of the darkest periods in our country’s modern history. I was less than one year old when my family and I were forcibly removed from our homes and put into internment camps. This happened because I simply looked like the enemy. As George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is imperative that our nation remembers these darkest chapters of our history, in addition to the best moments. As one of the two remaining former internees to currently serve in Congress, I am proud to have fought for funding for the preservation of Japanese American confinement sites.“
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06):
“I am pleased to have secured this extra and important funding for the Asian Pacific American Center. Using these additional dollars to hire individuals for critical and needed positions will further enhance this outstanding facility and allow it to remain a leading voice on the Asian Pacific American experience. The money will also enable APAC to host events in cities across the country to empower Asian Pacific American communities and promote America’s Asian Pacific heritage. I thank my colleagues in the House for supporting my amendment, and I urge the Senate to now follow suit.”
The Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) is comprised of Members of Congress of Asian and Pacific Islander descent and Members who have a strong dedication to promoting the well-being of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Currently chaired by Congresswoman Judy Chu, CAPAC has been addressing the needs of the AAPI community in all areas of American life since it was founded in 1994.