Watchwoman on the Wall

Watchwoman: I wrote to my House Member in Washington, DC, the Honorable Steven C. LaTourette, about making the English language our nation’s official language.  Here’s his reply.  I will be forwarding a copy of this posting to his office with a big THANK YOU!  ▬  Donna Calvin





Steven C. LaTourette, Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Ohio's 14th district Incumbent Assumed office January 3, 1995

Thank you for contacting me to express your desire to see the English language become our nation’s official language. I appreciate you taking the time to let me know that this issue is important to you.

As you may know, Representative Peter King (R-NY) introduced the National Language Act of 2011, H.R. 1164, on March 17, 2011. This act would make English the official language of our government. The government would conduct its business and publish all of its official materials, including voting ballots and tax forms, in English. This legislation provides that no person has the right , entitlement, or claim to have the government act, communicate, perform, or provide services and materials in any other language, unless specifically stated in applicable law. It also amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to require that all public ceremonies in which the oath of allegiance is administered to be conducted solely in English. This legislation has been referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and the House Committee on the Judiciary. I do not serve on either of these committees, but should the measure reach the House floor for vote, I will consider your support of this act.

I am firmly committed to establishing English as the official language of our government. Having English as the official language of the U.S. unites us as a nation of immigrants and also empowers each new generation. Studies have also shown that people who learn the English language have more earning power and are able to interact effectively in society. The Office of Management and Budget estimates that it costs the taxpayers between $1 billion and $2 billion dollars annually to provide language assistance, which came under President Clinton’s executive order. Representative Peter King introduced H.R. 1307 on April 1, 2011. This legislation would repeal President Clinton’s executive order and stop the use of taxpayer money to provide language assistance. In addition, Representative Virginia Foxx (R-NC) introduced the Multilingual Services Act, H.R. 1715. This legislation requires that the chief financial officers of all government agencies include multilingual services accounting information in their mandatory annual reports to the agency head and to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). These services include interpreters hired, training in a language other than English, and translation of materials in a language other than English. Both of these bills have been referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

As you may be aware, on March 10, 2011, Representative Steve King (R-IA) introduced the English Language Unity Act, H.R. 997. Like the National Language Act, this bill would establish English as the official language of our government, but in addition, it would direct the Secretary of Homeland Security to propose uniform testing for naturalization based on the principle that all citizens should be able to read and understand generally the English language text of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the laws of the United States. You will be happy to know that I am a co-sponsor of this bill. Right now that legislation is awaiting further action in the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties. Unfortunately, I do not have the privilege of serving on this committee, but should legislation addressing this issue reach the House floor for a vote, I will keep your position in mind.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate in contacting me again.

Very truly yours,

Steven C. LaTourette

Member of Congress

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