WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10, 2016) — The U.S. Senate on Monday unanimously passed Senator Mazie K. Hirono and Representative Grace Meng’s (D-NY) bill to remove offensive terms such as “Oriental” from federal law. H.R.4238 was approved by the House 376-0, and will now go to President Obama to be signed into law.
“Updating derogatory references in federal law is long overdue,” Hirono said. “Our country’s diversity makes us strong, so it is imperative that this language is changed as soon as possible. It’s fitting that we passed this measure during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month. I thank my Senate colleagues for joining me in support of all Americans and Representative Meng for her steadfast advocacy.”
“The word ‘Oriental’ is a derogatory and antiquated term and the passage of this legislation will soon force the United States government to finally stop using it,” Meng said. “I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate for understanding that the time has come for our government to no longer refer to Asian Americans – or any ethnicity – in such an insulting manner. Repealing this term is long overdue. ‘Oriental’ no longer deserves a place in federal law, and very shortly it will finally be a thing of the past.”
The Hirono-Meng legislation removes from federal law all references to derogatory terms that refer to racial groups, such as “Oriental,” and replaces them with terms like “Asian Americans.” Identical language was also included in the Senate’s Energy Policy Modernization Act, but Senator Hirono saw H.R.4238 through the Senate as a standalone bill to expediently change the language.