(House of Representatives - August 01, 1996)

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[Pages H9725-H9738]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []

                              ACT OF 1996

  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I 
call up House Resolution 499 and ask for its immediate consideration.

[[Page H9726]]

  The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:

                              H. Res. 499

       Resolved, That at any time after the adoption of this 
     resolution the Speaker may, pursuant to clause 1(b) of rule 
     XXIII, declare the House resolved into the Committee of the 
     Whole House on the state of the Union for consideration of 
     the bill (H.R. 123) to amend title 4, United States Code, to 
     declare English as the official language of the Government of 
     the United States. The first reading of the bill shall be 
     dispensed with. Points of order against consideration of the 
     bill for failure to comply with clause 2(l)(6) of rule XI are 
     waived. General debate shall be confined to the bill and 
     shall not exceed one hour equally divided and controlled by 
     the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on 
     Economic and Educational Opportunities. After general debate 
     the bill shall be considered for amendment under the five-
     minute rule. In lieu of the amendment recommended by the 
     Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities now 
     printed in the bill, it shall be in order to consider as an 
     original bill for the purpose of amendment under the five-
     minute rule an amendment in the nature of a substitute 
     consisting of the text of H.R. 3898. That amendment in the 
     nature of a substitute shall be considered as read. Points of 
     order against that amendment in the nature of a substitute 
     for failure to comply with clause 7 of rule XVI are waived. 
     No other amendment shall be in order except those printed in 
     the report of the Committee on Rules accompanying this 
     resolution. Each amendment may be considered only in the 
     order specified, may be offered only by a Member designated 
     in the report, shall be considered as read, shall be 
     debatable for the time specified in the report equally 
     divided and controlled by the proponent and an opponent, 
     shall not be subject to amendment except as specified in the 
     report, and shall not be subject to a demand for division of 
     the question in the House or in the Committee of the Whole. 
     All points of order against amendments printed in the report 
     are waived. The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole may: 
     (1) postpone until a time during further consideration in the 
     Committee of the Whole a request for a recorded vote on any 
     amendment; and (2) reduce to five minutes the minimum time 
     for electronic voting on any postponed question that follows 
     another electronic vote without intervening business, 
     provided that the minimum time for electronic voting on the 
     first in any series of questions shall be fifteen minutes. At 
     the conclusion of consideration of the bill for amendment the 
     Committee shall rise and report the bill to the House with 
     such amendments as may have been adopted. Any Member may 
     demand a separate vote in the House on any amendment adopted 
     in the Committee of the Whole to the bill or to the amendment 
     in the nature of a substitute made in order as original text. 
     The previous question shall be considered as ordered on the 
     bill and amendments thereto to final passage without 
     intervening motion except one motion to recommit with or 
     without instructions.

                              {time}  1115

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Nethercutt). The gentleman from Georgia 
[Mr. Linder] is recognized for 1 hour.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, for the purposes of debate only, I yield the 
customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from California [Mr. Beilenson], 
pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During 
consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purposes 
of debate only.
  (Mr. LINDER asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
remarks and include extraneous material.)
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 499 is a modified closed 
rule providing for consideration of H.R. 123, the English Language 
Empowerment Act of 1996. House Resolution 499 waives points of order 
against consideration of the bill for failure to comply with clause 
2(l)(6) of rule XI, regarding 3 day availability of committee reports. 
The rule provides for 1 hour of debate equally divided between the 
chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on Economic and 
Educational Opportunities.
  The rule further makes in order, for the purpose of amendment, an 
amendment in the nature of a substitute consisting of the text of H.R. 
3898. The rule waives points of order against the amendment in the 
nature of a substitute for failure to comply with clause 7 of rule 16, 
relating to germaneness.
  The rule also provides for the consideration of the amendments 
printed in the Rules Committee report on the rule only in the order 
specified; if offered by the Member designated in the report; debatable 
for the time specified in the report, equally divided and controlled by 
the proponent and an opponent; and which shall not be subject to 
amendment or a division of the question in the House or the Committee 
of the Whole.
  House Resolution 499 waives all points of order against the 
amendments printed in the report. The rule also authorizes the Chair to 
postpone and cluster votes on amendments.
  Finally, the resolution provides for a motion to recommit with or 
without instructions as is the right of the minority.
  The rule for this bill is a fair one. House Resolution 499 allows for 
an hour of debate on a minority substitute, and specified time for a 
number of amendments which give those in opposition the opportunity to 
refine the bill. I believe the Rules Committee has been extraordinarily 
fair and prudent in that minority amendments outnumber majority 
amendments by a count of 4 to 1.

  Mr. Speaker, the English Language Empowerment Act of 1996 is designed 
to empower a new generation of immigrants. This bill declares that 
English is the official language of the Federal Government, mandates 
that the Federal Government conduct its business in English, eliminates 
the Federal bilingual ballot requirement, and requires officials to 
conduct naturalization ceremonies in English.
  This bill assures that we have a uniform government policy that does 
not undercut incentives to learn English and is consistent with 
established immigration policy that new citizens demonstrate an ability 
to read, write, and speak English. It is a modest bill which does not 
restrict, in any way, the use of foreign languages in homes, 
neighborhoods, churches, or private businesses.
  The argument will be made that this bill will result in cost savings 
to the American taxpayer as a result of the termination of documents 
and services currently provided in different languages. I agree that it 
is unrealistic that the Government should accommodate the printing of 
government materials in countless languages, and some cost savings will 
be achieved. This debate, however, is about more than simply the cost 
in dollars. For the past three decades we have come to realize that 
well-meaning programs intended to help have actually evolved into 
programs that hinder the advancement of our citizens. In this case, 
costly bilingual policies have acted as a disincentive to some 
immigrants who have been encouraged to use their native languages 
rather than learn English.
  The problem again is not that the Government has done too little--it 
is that the Government is doing too much. In this case, the 
Government's actions are inhibiting the social and economic advancement 
of new immigrants.
  Throughout this Nation's history, we have opened our ports to 
immigrants from countries across the globe, and each generation of 
immigrants has understood the importance of learning to communicate in 
English. New immigrants continue to understand that the knowledge of a 
common language will propel them along the road to prosperity and will 
unite all immigrants with a common bond as Americans.
  Unfortunately, this Government is impeding their integration into 
American society. This legislation will facilitate the opportunities 
for non-English speaking persons in this country, and I disagree with 
the argument that this bill would isolate them from society.
  It is the failure to promote English as our common and unifying 
language that has hindered some Americans from building a solid future 
for their families and gaining access to the American dream.
  During a meeting with a group of businessmen I asked a gentleman who 
had immigrated to the United States why his community has achieved such 
great educational and professional accomplishments in this country, and 
he proudly responded that there were two reasons for this success in 
the United States--intact families and the adoption of the English 
  It is becoming painfully clear that those who have not adopted the 
English language have had a much more difficult time achieving success 
in our schools, in our businesses, and in our society. For those who 
use English, we have seen a great rise in achievement.
  Mr. Speaker, this is an equitable rule that permits opponents of the 
bill the opportunity to alter extensively the

[[Page H9727]]

original bill. I urge my colleagues to support the rule so that we may 
proceed with consideration of a bill that I believe will help to open 
the door to the American dream to more of our follow Americans.
  Mr. Speaker, I include the following material from the Committee on 
Rules for the Record:

                                              [As of July 31, 1996]                                             
                                                  103d Congress                        104th Congress           
              Rule type              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       Number of rules    Percent of total   Number of rules    Percent of total
Open/Modified-Open \2\..............                 46                 44                 81                 59
Structured/Modified Closed \3\......                 49                 47                 39                 28
Closed \4\..........................                  9                  9                 17                 13
      Total.........................                104                100                137                100
\1\ This table applies only to rules which provide for the original consideration of bills, joint resolutions or
  budget resolutions and which provide for an amendment process. It does not apply to special rules which only  
  waive points of order against appropriations bills which are already privileged and are considered under an   
  open amendment process under House rules.                                                                     
\2\ An open rule is one under which any Member may offer a germane amendment under the five-minute rule. A      
  modified open rule is one under which any Member may offer a germane amendment under the five-minute rule     
  subject only to an overall time limit on the amendment process and/or a requirement that the amendment be     
  preprinted in the Congressional Record.                                                                       
\3\ A structured or modified closed rule is one under which the Rules Committee limits the amendments that may  
  be offered only to those amendments designated in the special rule or the Rules Committee report to accompany 
  it, or which preclude amendments to a particular portion of a bill, even though the rest of the bill may be   
  completely open to amendment.                                                                                 
\4\ A closed rule is one under which no amendments may be offered (other than amendments recommended by the     
  committee in reporting the bill).                                                                             

                          SPECIAL RULES REPORTED BY THE RULES COMMITTEE, 104TH CONGRESS                         
                                              [As of July 31, 1996]                                             
                                                                                                 Disposition of 
    H. Res. No. (Date rept.)         Rule type           Bill No.              Subject                rule      
H. Res. 38 (1/18/95)...........  O................  H.R. 5...........  Unfunded Mandate        A: 350-71 (1/19/ 
                                                                        Reform.                 95).            
H. Res. 44 (1/24/95)...........  MC...............  H. Con. Res. 17..  Social Security.......  A: 255-172 (1/25/
                                                    H.J. Res. 1......  Balanced Budget Amdt..   95).            
H. Res. 51 (1/31/95)...........  O................  H.R. 101.........  Land Transfer, Taos     A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Pueblo Indians.         1/95).          
H. Res. 52 (1/31/95)...........  O................  H.R. 400.........  Land Exchange, Arctic   A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Nat'l. Park and         1/95).          
H. Res. 53 (1/31/95)...........  O................  H.R. 440.........  Land Conveyance, Butte  A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        County, Calif.          1/95).          
H. Res. 55 (2/1/95)............  O................  H.R. 2...........  Line Item Veto........  A: voice vote (2/
H. Res. 60 (2/6/95)............  O................  H.R. 665.........  Victim Restitution....  A: voice vote (2/
H. Res. 61 (2/6/95)............  O................  H.R. 666.........  Exclusionary Rule       A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Reform.                 7/95).          
H. Res. 63 (2/8/95)............  MO...............  H.R. 667.........  Violent Criminal        A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Incarceration.          9/95).          
H. Res. 69 (2/9/95)............  O................  H.R. 668.........  Criminal Alien          A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Deportation.            10/95).         
H. Res. 79 (2/10/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 728.........  Law Enforcement Block   A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Grants.                 13/95).         
H. Res. 83 (2/13/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 7...........  National Security       PQ: 229-199; A:  
                                                                        Revitalization.         227-197 (2/15/  
H. Res. 88 (2/16/95)...........  MC...............  H.R. 831.........  Health Insurance        PQ: 230-191; A:  
                                                                        Deductibility.          229-188 (2/21/  
H. Res. 91 (2/21/95)...........  O................  H.R. 830.........  Paperwork Reduction     A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Act.                    22/95).         
H. Res. 92 (2/21/95)...........  MC...............  H.R. 889.........  Defense Supplemental..  A: 282-144 (2/22/
H. Res. 93 (2/22/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 450.........  Regulatory Transition   A: 252-175 (2/23/
                                                                        Act.                    95).            
H. Res. 96 (2/24/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 1022........  Risk Assessment.......  A: 253-165 (2/27/
H. Res. 100 (2/27/95)..........  O................  H.R. 926.........  Regulatory Reform and   A: voice vote (2/
                                                                        Relief Act.             28/95).         
H. Res. 101 (2/28/95)..........  MO...............  H.R. 925.........  Private Property        A: 271-151 (3/2/ 
                                                                        Protection Act.         95).            
H. Res. 103 (3/3/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 1058........  Securities Litigation   .................
H. Res. 104 (3/3/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 988.........  Attorney                A: voice vote (3/
                                                                        Accountability Act.     6/95).          
H. Res. 105 (3/6/95)...........  MO...............  .................  ......................  A: 257-155 (3/7/ 
H. Res. 108 (3/7/95)...........  Debate...........  H.R. 956.........  Product Liability       A: voice vote (3/
                                                                        Reform.                 8/95).          
H. Res. 109 (3/8/95)...........  MC...............  .................  ......................  PQ: 234-191 A:   
                                                                                                247-181 (3/9/   
H. Res. 115 (3/14/95)..........  MO...............  H.R. 1159........  Making Emergency Supp.  A: 242-190 (3/15/
                                                                        Approps.                95).            
H. Res. 116 (3/15/95)..........  MC...............  H.J. Res. 73.....  Term Limits Const.      A: voice vote (3/
                                                                        Amdt.                   28/95).         
H. Res. 117 (3/16/95)..........  Debate...........  H.R. 4...........  Personal                A: voice vote (3/
                                                                        Responsibility Act of   21/95).         
H. Res. 119 (3/21/95)..........  MC...............  .................  ......................  A: 217-211 (3/22/
H. Res. 125 (4/3/95)...........  O................  H.R. 1271........  Family Privacy          A: 423-1 (4/4/   
                                                                        Protection Act.         95).            
H. Res. 126 (4/3/95)...........  O................  H.R. 660.........  Older Persons Housing   A: voice vote (4/
                                                                        Act.                    6/95).          
H. Res. 128 (4/4/95)...........  MC...............  H.R. 1215........  Contract With America   A: 228-204 (4/5/ 
                                                                        Tax Relief Act of       95).            
H. Res. 130 (4/5/95)...........  MC...............  H.R. 483.........  Medicare Select          A: 253-172 (4/6/
                                                                        Expansion.              95).            
H. Res. 136 (5/1/95)...........  O................  H.R. 655.........  Hydrogen Future Act of  A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        1995.                   2/95).          
H. Res. 139 (5/3/95)...........  O................  H.R. 1361........  Coast Guard Auth. FY    A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        1996.                   9/95).          
H. Res. 140 (5/9/95)...........  O................  H.R. 961.........  Clean Water Amendments  A: 414-4 (5/10/  
H. Res. 144 (5/11/95)..........  O................  H.R. 535.........  Fish Hatchery--         A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        Arkansas.               15/95).         
H. Res. 145 (5/11/95)..........  O................  H.R. 584.........  Fish Hatchery--Iowa...  A: voice vote (5/
H. Res. 146 (5/11/95)..........  O................  H.R. 614.........  Fish Hatchery--         A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        Minnesota.              15/95).         
H. Res. 149 (5/16/95)..........  MC...............  H. Con. Res. 67..  Budget Resolution FY    PQ: 252-170 A:   
                                                                        1996.                   255-168 (5/17/  
H. Res. 155 (5/22/95)..........  MO...............  H.R. 1561........  American Overseas       A: 233-176 (5/23/
                                                                        Interests Act.          95).            
H. Res. 164 (6/8/95)...........  MC...............  H.R. 1530........  Nat. Defense Auth. FY   PQ: 225-191 A:   
                                                                        1996.                   233-183 (6/13/  
H. Res. 167 (6/15/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1817........  MilCon Appropriations   PQ: 223-180 A:   
                                                                        FY 1996.                245-155 (6/16/  
H. Res. 169 (6/19/95)..........  MC...............  H.R. 1854........  Leg. Branch Approps.    PQ: 232-196 A:   
                                                                        FY 1996.                236-191 (6/20/  
H. Res. 170 (6/20/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1868........  For. Ops. Approps. FY   PQ: 221-178 A:   
                                                                        1996.                   217-175 (6/22/  
H. Res. 171 (6/22/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1905........  Energy & Water          A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        Approps. FY 1996.       12/95).         
H. Res. 173 (6/27/95)..........  C................  H.J. Res. 79.....  Flag Constitutional     PQ: 258-170 A:   
                                                                        Amendment.              271-152 (6/28/  
H. Res. 176 (6/28/95)..........  MC...............  H.R. 1944........  Emer. Supp. Approps...  PQ: 236-194 A:   
                                                                                                234-192 (6/29/  
H. Res. 185 (7/11/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1977........  Interior Approps. FY    PQ: 235-193 D:   
                                                                        1996.                   192-238 (7/12/  
H. Res. 187 (7/12/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1977........  Interior Approps. FY    PQ: 230-194 A:   
                                                                        1996 #2.                229-195 (7/13/  
H. Res. 188 (7/12/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1976........  Agriculture Approps.    PQ: 242-185 A:   
                                                                        FY 1996.                voice vote (7/18/
H. Res. 190 (7/17/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2020........  Treasury/Postal         PQ: 232-192 A:   
                                                                        Approps. FY 1996.       voice vote (7/18/
H. Res. 193 (7/19/95)..........  C................  H.J. Res. 96.....  Disapproval of MFN to   A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        China.                  20/95).         
H. Res. 194 (7/19/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2002........  Transportation          PQ: 217-202 (7/21/
                                                                        Approps. FY 1996.       95).            
H. Res. 197 (7/21/95)..........  O................  H.R. 70..........  Exports of Alaskan      A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        Crude Oil.              24/95).         
H. Res. 198 (7/21/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2076........  Commerce, State         A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        Approps. FY 1996.       25/95).         
H. Res. 201 (7/25/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2099........  VA/HUD Approps. FY      A: 230-189 (7/25/
                                                                        1996.                   95).            
H. Res. 204 (7/28/95)..........  MC...............  S. 21............  Terminating U.S. Arms   A: voice vote (8/
                                                                        Embargo on Bosnia.      1/95).          
H. Res. 205 (7/28/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2126........  Defense Approps. FY     A: 409-1 (7/31/  
                                                                        1996.                   95).            
H. Res. 207 (8/1/95)...........  MC...............  H.R. 1555........  Communications Act of   A: 255-156 (8/2/ 
                                                                        1995.                   95).            
H. Res. 208 (8/1/95)...........  O................  H.R. 2127........  Labor, HHS Approps. FY  A: 323-104 (8/2/ 
                                                                        1996.                   95).            
H. Res. 215 (9/7/95)...........  O................  H.R. 1594........  Economically Targeted   A: voice vote (9/
                                                                        Investments.            12/95).         
H. Res. 216 (9/7/95)...........  MO...............  H.R. 1655........  Intelligence            A: voice vote (9/
                                                                        Authorization FY 1996.  12/95).         
H. Res. 218 (9/12/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1162........  Deficit Reduction       A: voice vote (9/
                                                                        Lockbox.                13/95).         
H. Res. 219 (9/12/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1670........  Federal Acquisition     A: 414-0 (9/13/  
                                                                        Reform Act.             95).            
H. Res. 222 (9/18/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1617........  CAREERS Act...........  A: 388-2 (9/19/  
H. Res. 224 (9/19/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2274........  Natl. Highway System..  PQ: 241-173 A:   
                                                                                                375-39-1 (9/20/ 
H. Res. 225 (9/19/95)..........  MC...............  H.R. 927.........  Cuban Liberty & Dem.    A: 304-118 (9/20/
                                                                        Solidarity.             95).            
H. Res. 226 (9/21/95)..........  O................  H.R. 743.........  Team Act..............  A: 344-66-1 (9/27/
H. Res. 227 (9/21/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1170........  3-Judge Court.........  A: voice vote (9/
H. Res. 228 (9/21/95)..........  O................  H.R. 1601........  Internatl. Space        A: voice vote (9/
                                                                        Station.                27/95).         
H. Res. 230 (9/27/95)..........  C................  H.J. Res. 108....  Continuing Resolution   A: voice vote (9/
                                                                        FY 1996.                28/95).         
H. Res. 234 (9/29/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2405........  Omnibus Science Auth..  A: voice vote (10/
H. Res. 237 (10/17/95).........  MC...............  H.R. 2259........  Disapprove Sentencing   A: voice vote (10/
                                                                        Guidelines.             18/95).         
H. Res. 238 (10/18/95).........  MC...............  H.R. 2425........  Medicare Preservation   PQ: 231-194 A:   
                                                                        Act.                    227-192 (10/19/ 
H. Res. 239 (10/19/95).........  C................  H.R. 2492........  Leg. Branch Approps...  PQ: 235-184 A:   
                                                                                                voice vote (10/ 
H. Res. 245 (10/25/95).........  MC...............  H. Con. Res. 109.  Social Security         PQ: 228-191 A:   
                                                    H.R. 2491........   Earnings Reform.        235-185 (10/26/ 
                                                                       Seven-Year Balanced      95).            
H. Res. 251 (10/31/95).........  C................  H.R. 1833........  Partial Birth Abortion  A: 237-190 (11/1/
                                                                        Ban.                    95).            
H. Res. 252 (10/31/95).........  MO...............  H.R. 2546........  D.C. Approps..........  A: 241-181 (11/1/
H. Res. 257 (11/7/95)..........  C................  H.J. Res. 115....  Cont. Res. FY 1996....  A: 216-210 (11/8/
H. Res. 258 (11/8/95)..........  MC...............  H.R. 2586........  Debt Limit............  A: 220-200 (11/10/

[[Page H9728]]

H. Res. 259 (11/9/95)..........  O................  H.R. 2539........  ICC Termination Act...  A: voice vote (11/
H. Res. 262 (11/9/95)..........  C................  H.R. 2586........  Increase Debt Limit...  A: 220-185 (11/10/
H. Res. 269 (11/15/95).........  O................  H.R. 2564........  Lobbying Reform.......  A: voice vote (11/
H. Res. 270 (11/15/95).........  C................  H.J. Res. 122....  Further Cont.           A: 249-176 (11/15/
                                                                        Resolution.             95).            
H. Res. 273 (11/16/95).........  MC...............  H.R. 2606........  Prohibition on Funds    A: 239-181 (11/17/
                                                                        for Bosnia.             95).            
H. Res. 284 (11/29/95).........  O................  H.R. 1788........  Amtrak Reform.........  A: voice vote (11/
H. Res. 287 (11/30/95).........  O................  H.R. 1350........  Maritime Security Act.  A: voice vote (12/
H. Res. 293 (12/7/95)..........  C................  H.R. 2621........  Protect Federal Trust   PQ: 223-183 A:   
                                                                        Funds.                  228-184 (12/14/ 
H. Res. 303 (12/13/95).........  O................  H.R. 1745........  Utah Public Lands.....  PQ: 221-197 A:   
                                                                                                voice vote (5/15/
H. Res. 309 (12/18/95).........  C................  H. Con. Res. 122.  Budget Res. W/          PQ: 230-188 A:   
                                                                        President.              229-189 (12/19/ 
H. Res. 313 (12/19/95).........  O................  H.R. 558.........  Texas Low-Level         A: voice vote (12/
                                                                        Radioactive.            20/95).         
H. Res. 323 (12/21/95).........  C................  H.R. 2677........  Natl. Parks & Wildlife  Tabled (2/28/96).
H. Res. 366 (2/27/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 2854........  Farm Bill.............  PQ: 228-182 A:   
                                                                                                244-168 (2/28/  
H. Res. 368 (2/28/96)..........  O................  H.R. 994.........  Small Business Growth.  Tabled (4/17/96).
H. Res. 371 (3/6/96)...........  C................  H.R. 3021........  Debt Limit Increase...  A: voice vote (3/
H. Res. 372 (3/6/96)...........  MC...............  H.R. 3019........  Cont. Approps. FY 1996  PQ: voice vote A:
                                                                                                235-175 (3/7/   
H. Res. 380 (3/12/96)..........  C................  H.R. 2703........  Effective Death         A: 251-157 (3/13/
                                                                        Penalty.                96).            
H. Res. 384 (3/14/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 2202........  Immigration...........  PQ: 233-152 A:   
                                                                                                voice vote (3/19/
H. Res. 386 (3/20/96)..........  C................  H.J. Res. 165....  Further Cont. Approps.  PQ: 234-187 A:   
                                                                                                237-183 (3/21/  
H. Res. 388 (3/21/96)..........  C................  H.R. 125.........  Gun Crime Enforcement.  A: 244-166 (3/22/
H. Res. 391 (3/27/96)..........  C................  H.R. 3136........  Contract w/America      PQ: 232-180 A:   
                                                                        Advancement.            232-177, (3/28/ 
H. Res. 392 (3/27/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 3103........  Health Coverage         PQ: 229-186 A:   
                                                                        Affordability.          Voice Vote (3/29/
H. Res. 395 (3/29/96)..........  MC...............  H.J. Res. 159....  Tax Limitation Const.   PQ: 232-168 A:   
                                                                        Amdmt..                 234-162 (4/15/  
H. Res. 396 (3/29/96)..........  O................  H.R. 842.........  Truth in Budgeting Act  A: voice vote (4/
H. Res. 409 (4/23/96)..........  O................  H.R. 2715........  Paperwork Elimination   A: voice vote (4/
                                                                        Act.                    24/96).         
H. Res. 410 (4/23/96)..........  O................  H.R. 1675........  Natl. Wildlife Refuge.  A: voice vote (4/
H. Res. 411 (4/23/96)..........  C................  H.J. Res. 175....  Further Cont. Approps.  A: voice vote (4/
                                                                        FY 1996.                24/96).         
H. Res. 418 (4/30/96)..........  O................  H.R. 2641........  U.S. Marshals Service.  PQ: 219-203 A:   
                                                                                                voice vote (5/1/
H. Res. 419 (4/30/96)..........  O................  H.R. 2149........  Ocean Shipping Reform.  A: 422-0 (5/1/   
H. Res. 421 (5/2/96)...........  O................  H.R. 2974........  Crimes Against          A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        Children & Elderly.     7/96).          
H. Res. 422 (5/2/96)...........  O................  H.R. 3120........  Witness & Jury          A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        Tampering.              7/96).          
H. Res. 426 (5/7/96)...........  O................  H.R. 2406........  U.S. Housing Act of     PQ: 218-208 A:   
                                                                        1996.                   voice vote (5/8/
H. Res. 427 (5/7/96)...........  O................  H.R. 3322........  Omnibus Civilian        A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        Science Auth.           9/96).          
H. Res. 428 (5/7/96)...........  MC...............  H.R. 3286........  Adoption Promotion &    A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        Stability.              9/96).          
H. Res. 430 (5/9/96)...........  S................  H.R. 3230........  DoD Auth. FY 1997.....  A: 235-149 (5/10/
H. Res. 435 (5/15/96)..........  MC...............  H. Con. Res. 178.  Con. Res. on the        PQ: 227-196 A:   
                                                                        Budget, 1997.           voice vote (5/16/
H. Res. 436 (5/16/96)..........  C................  H.R. 3415........  Repeal 4.3 cent fuel    PQ: 221-181 A:   
                                                                        tax.                    voice vote (5/21/
H. Res. 437 (5/16/96)..........  MO...............  H.R. 3259........  Intell. Auth. FY 1997.  A: voice vote (5/
H. Res. 438 (5/16/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 3144........  Defend America Act....  .................
H. Res. 440 (5/21/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 3448........  Small Bus. Job          A: 219-211 (5/22/
                                                                        Protection.             96).            
                                 MC...............  H.R. 1227........  Employee Commuting      .................
H. Res. 442 (5/29/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3517........  Mil. Const. Approps.    A: voice vote (5/
                                                                        FY 1997.                30/96).         
H. Res. 445 (5/30/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3540........  For. Ops. Approps. FY   A: voice vote (6/
                                                                        1997.                   5/96).          
H. Res. 446 (6/5/96)...........  MC...............  H.R. 3562........  WI Works Waiver         A: 363-59 (6/6/  
                                                                        Approval.               96).            
H. Res. 448 (6/6/96)...........  MC...............  H.R. 2754........  Shipbuilding Trade      A: voice vote (6/
                                                                        Agreement.              12/96).         
H. Res. 451 (6/10/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3603........  Agriculture             A: voice vote (6/
                                                                        Appropriations, FY      11/96).         
H. Res. 453 (6/12/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3610........  Defense                 A: voice vote (6/
                                                                        Appropriations, FY      13/96).         
H. Res. 455 (6/18/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3662........  Interior Approps, FY    A: voice vote (6/
                                                                        1997.                   19/96).         
H. Res. 456 (6/19/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3666........  VA/HUD Approps........  A: 246-166 (6/25/
H. Res. 460 (6/25/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3675........  Transportation Approps  A: voice vote (6/
H. Res. 472 (7/9/96)...........  O................  H.R. 3755........  Labor/HHS Approps.....  PQ: 218-202 A:   
                                                                                                voice vote (7/10/
H. Res. 473 (7/9/96)...........  MC...............  H.R. 3754........  Leg. Branch Approps...  A: voice vote (7/
H. Res. 474 (7/10/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 3396........  Defense of Marriage     A: 290-133 (7/11/
                                                                        Act.                    96).            
H. Res. 475 (7/11/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3756........  Treasury/Postal         A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        Approps.                16/96).         
H. Res. 479 (7/16/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3814........  Commerce, State         A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        Approps.                17/96).         
H. Res. 481 (7/17/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 3820........  Campaign Finance        PQ: 221-193 A:   
                                                                        Reform.                 270-140 (7/25/  
H. Res. 482 (7/17/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 3734........  Personal                A: 358-54 (7/18/ 
                                                                        Responsibility Act.     96).            
H. Res. 483 (7/18/96)..........  O................  H.R. 3816........  Energy/Water Approps..  A: voice vote (7/
H. Res. 488 (7/24/96)..........  MO...............  H.R. 2391........  Working Families......  A: 228-175 (7/26/
H. Res. 489 (7/25/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 2823........  Dolphin Conservation    A: voice vote (7/
                                                                        Program.                31/96).         
H. Res. 499 (7/31/96)..........  MC...............  H.R. 123.........  English Language        .................
Codes: O-open rule; MO-modified open rule; MC-modified closed rule; S/C-structured/closed rule; A-adoption vote;
  D-defeated; PQ-previous question vote. Source: Notices of Action Taken, Committee on Rules, 104th Congress.   

  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. 
Linder] for yielding me the customary half-hour of debate time, and I 
yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, we strongly oppose this modified closed rule for the 
bill designating English as the official language of the Government of 
the United States and requiring that most official business be 
conducted only in English. We believe this is a bad rule for an equally 
bad piece of legislation.
  We oppose this legislation in such strong terms for many reasons: It 
is unnecessary; it is without doubt unconstitutional; it will increase 
litigation by creating a new private right of legal action in Federal 
court; it is offensive, insulting and denigrating to millions of 
Americans; and it is divisive at a time that we need to unite our 
country and its citizens.
  Mr. Speaker, we fail to understand the need for this legislation of 
such dubious value. According to the Census Bureau figures, English is 
spoken by over 97 percent of the American people. A recent General 
Accounting Office report tells us that less than .1 percent of all 
Federal documents are printed in foreign languages; thus, more than 
99.9 percent are already printed in English.
  The fact that English language classes across the country have long 
waiting lists attests to the fact that laws are not needed to encourage 
people to learn English.
  What those who do not speak English will need is access to more 
educational programs that teach English, but this bill does nothing 
whatsoever to help meet that need. Mr. Speaker, the way to further the 
primacy of English is to put more resources into efforts to expand 
English proficiency and literacy, not to pass legislation of such 
questionable value as this.
  We already know that English-only laws such as H.R. 123 are subject 
to serious constitutional challenge, an important point that the 
proponents appear to have overlooked.
  In a 1923 case, the Supreme Court wrote that:

       The protection of the Constitution extends to all, to those 
     who speak other languages as well as those born with English 
     on the tongue. Perhaps it would be advantageous if all had 
     ready understanding of our ordinary speech, but this cannot 
     be coerced by methods which conflict with the Constitution.

  The presumptive unconstitutionality of H.R. 123 was fortified more 
recently by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Arizona's 
English-only mandate violates the first amendment and in 
``unconstitutional in its entirety.'' No doubt that reasoning would 
apply as well to this Federal English-only legislation, which we 
believe clearly violates the first amendment guarantee of free speech.
  As if all this were not bad enough, Mr. Speaker, the rule making this 
bill in order is unfair and limited beyond good reason. At the very 
least, if we must consider a bill as repugnant as this one, then we 
should have had, if not a completely open rule, at least one that is 
more open and much less restrictive than the rule we are now 
  In recognition of the announcement by our chairman that only certain 
amendments would be made in order, the minority members of the Rules 
Committee chose 5 of the more than 20 amendments submitted by Democrats 
as our priorities. But only one of those

[[Page H9729]]

five was accepted and is made in order by this rule.
  Inrerestingly the majority did see fit to allow three other 
amendments submitted by Democrats, none of which was on our priority 
list. We are somewhat puzzled by that decision, and suspect that they 
address issues the majority itself wanted to be taken up.

  The Serrano amendment that is permitted under the rule was our first 
priority. It is a very thoughtful attempt to establish a language 
policy for the United States that does not infringe on indigenous 
languages and does not place undue burdens on one's ability to obtain 
services from the Federal Government because of limited English 
proficiency. Instead of imposing the divisive and restrictive policies 
in H.R. 123 that infringe on constitutional rights, the Serrano 
amendment encourage diversity and opportunity. We encourage our 
colleagues to support that amendment.
  It is a key amendment. We are pleased that it is made in order. 
Unfortunately, four others that are just as essential to making the 
debate on the bill complete were not approved by the majority.
  We feel strongly that we should have been allowed a vote on the 
amendment striking repeal of the bilingual election requirements of the 
Voting Rights Act. The bilingual provision that the rule incorporates 
into H.R. 123 is a major change in existing law and policy. Members 
deserve the opportunity to vote separately on such radical action. The 
rule is in essence protecting the repeal of a fundamental part of our 
voting rights law; it should not be allowed to go unchallenged.
  If we truly want to encourage people to speak English, then English 
training for all who seek it should be available. However, the majority 
denied our request that an amendment for that purpose be made in order.
  We were also denied the right to vote on striking another major 
provision in the bill, the section permitting any individual to sue in 
Federal court if they believe this legislation has been violated.
  We do not believe there is a need for this new right to sue, 
especially when so much of our effort in this Congress have been to 
discourage the wave of litigation that seems to be sweeping over the 
country. This is a serious issue that Members will not have the 
opportunity to vote on under this restrictive rule.
  We also asked earlier that the amendment of the gentleman from Puerto 
Rico [Mr. Romero-Barcelo] be made in order to provide that any agency 
can communicate orally or in writing in a language other than English 
if doing so will assist the agency in doing its work. This is clearly 
essential to protect the rights of so many of our citizens, yet our 
request to make the amendment in order was denied.
  Mr. Speaker, we do not believe that allowing votes on only 4 of the 
over 20 Democratic amendments submitted is far or reasonable. We feel 
strongly that the four amendments I have just described, as well as 
several others offered by the gentleman from California [Mr. Martinez] 
to exempt from the bill's provisions actions or documents from the IRS 
and the Social Security Administration should be part of this debate.
  Clearly, if the majority is willing to make an amendment in order to 
allow Members of Congress to communicate orally and in writing in a 
language other that English, then the Martinez amendments giving the 
same rights to agencies that serve so many of our senior citizens 
should have been permitted as well.
  The bill denies many of those citizens the right to understand 
clearly and completely some of the most basic functions of their 
Government, and the functions that affect them most personally and 
directly. We are especially disappointed that the majority was 
unwilling to give Members the opportunity to correct that serious 
failure in the bill.
  In closing, Mr. Speaker, we repeat that we find it difficult to 
understand the reason for this legislation. The use of languages other 
than English to meet the needs of language minorities in this country 
does not pose a threat to English because it is already in fact, of 
course, recognized as the primary language of this country.
  But language alone in not the basis for nationhood. Americans are 
united by principles enumerated by our Constitution and the Bill of 
Rights: freedom of speech, representative democracy, respect for due 
process, and equality of protection under the laws. The legislation 
this rule would make in order is contrary, we believe, to each of those 
  Mr. Speaker, in closing, we strongly oppose this rule and the bill 
that it makes in order. We urge our colleagues to defeat the rule so at 
least some more amendments might be made in order. It is the only 
proper and fair action we can take.
  Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

                              {time}  1130

  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida [Mr. Goss], my colleague on the Committee on Rules.
  (Mr. GOSS asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Georgia for yielding 
and I rise in support of this rule. This is a subject that generates 
much emotion from all sides--and I applaud this rule for allowing those 
with opposing views a fair opportunity to be heard.
  In my opinion, the uniqueness of America stems from the fact that, 
although we are a Nation of immigrants hailing from all parts of the 
world, we have guiding principles enshrined in our Constitution that 
focus on what we have in common, not what divides us. Throughout the 
history of this great melting pot, we have demonstrated to the world 
that it is possible to preserve individual liberties, to uphold the 
traditions of a vast array of cultural heritages and to still weave a 
fabric of society that is uniquely American.
  But Mr. Speaker, things have changed in recent years. Our society 
seems less committed to the idea of a melting pot, less able to focus 
on the common threads within the fabric of our American society. And 
that is why we are considering this legislation--because we want to 
reinforce the English language as one of those threads.
  English is, and has always been, the official voice of America. H.R. 
123 reaffirms this principle by setting out that the Federal Government 
will conduct its official business in English--with reasonable 
exceptions to protect the public health and safety, promote trade and 
commerce, uphold national security, conduct language education and 
preserve the integrity of our criminal justice system. I would like to 
emphasize that this legislation does not preempt any State or local 
laws. This legislation eliminates the burdensome unfunded mandate of 
required bilingual ballots, which was originally established by the 
Voting Rights Act, and which I have long opposed. While the premise of 
increasing access to the electoral system was well-intentioned, the 
implementation has become an expensive burden. It has also created 
unanticipated consequences, including discrimination against English-
deficient voters who do not happen to live in heavily concentrated 
minority areas. I have always believed that the Federal Government 
should neither require nor prohibit the use, by local communities, of 
local funds to communicate with their citizens in languages other than 
English. Repealing the bilingual ballot requirement is an important 
step in that regard.

  Mr. Speaker, H.R. 123 underscores that English is our national 
language without unduly interfering with the ability of States and 
localities to deal with their own unique language needs. Reaffirmation 
of our common language is something a substantial majority of Americans 
have asked us to do--and I urge my colleagues to support this rule and 
this bill.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Puerto Rico [Mr. Romero-Barcelo].
  (Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend his remarks.)
  ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Speaker, language is an intensely personal form 
of self-expression. We use it to articulate the full range of human 
thought and emotion. We use it to convey our thoughts on philosophy. We 
use it to convey our thoughts on theology and political ideals. We use 
it to convey sorrow, anger and forgiveness, and we use it to express 
love for one another.

[[Page H9730]]

  I think that this bill does precisely the opposite. Instead of being 
an expression of love for all of the citizens in the Nation, it is the 
setting aside of those citizens that may not have the proficiency in a 
language that is a common language of our Nation that others have. It 
curtails their access and availability of services in the government 
and to exercise their rights and the fulfillment of their duties and 
  Mr. Speaker, I do not know if Members are aware of how many documents 
can be published, if necessary, in other languages, to inform the 
public. For instance, Social Security for elderly citizens. We have 
information about what Social Security is all about. Survivors' 
benefits. Social Security, what an individual needs to know when they 
get retirement survivors. Social Security benefits for children with 
disabilities. Social Security, if an individual is blind, how can we 
  All of these and many, many, many more reports and information are 
published in other languages when the recipient, when the citizen does 
not know English well enough. And we do have citizens that do not know 
English or speak it very little.
  In Puerto Rico, we were made citizens in 1917 by law, and we were not 
asked for the language we spoke, nor have we been asked what language 
we speak when we are drafted to go in the armed services and service 
the Nation.
  In the Korean war, for instance, we were No. 4 in deaths, even though 
we were number 25 in population. And how many of those soldiers that 
were defending the Nation died because maybe they did not understand 
the orders.
  They say that this is done to promote efficiency in English. We do 
not promote by obligating; we promote by stimulating. We promote by 
providing opportunities for people to educate themselves, to learn the 
English. Nothing is being proposed here to stimulate or further 
encourage or even fund the teaching of English.
  I oppose the approval of this rule.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Wisconsin [Mr. Roth], who has worked on this issue for many, many 
  Mr. ROTH. Mr. Speaker, I thank my friend from Georgia for yielding me 
this time, and I appreciate the fine and the fair rule that the 
Committee on Rules has brought to the floor.
  I wish we had more time to debate the issue, but I know at this time 
that we have a good deal of pressing legislation issues before us.
  This is an historic day. I frankly have told many people who have 
doubted this day would ever come to have faith, that the day would come 
when the American people's wishes were going to be heard. In every 
single survey that has been taken on whether English should be our 
official language, 90 to 97 percent of the people say, yes, English 
should be our official language, which basically means when we vote, 
when an individual works with the Federal Government, that we do it in 
the English language.
  The people have spoken and the Congress has listened, and now we can 
say that Congress has as much common sense as the American people.
  We are people from every corner of the globe. We represent every 
religion, every ethnic group, every Nation under the Sun, but we are 
one nation, we are one people. Why? Because we have a wonderful 
commonality, a common glue, called the English language.
  Now, in some 80 nations around the world they have official 
languages; 63 nations have English as the official language, and other 
nations have various other languages, of course.
  The gentleman who just spoke before me is from Puerto Rico. Some of 
the finest people in the world live in Puerto Rico. But in Puerto Rico 
they have Spanish as their official language, and rightly so. They 
should have that right. In Mexico, they have Spanish as their official 
language. And again, rightly so.
  Now, in this country we are told by the National Clearinghouse for 
Bilingual Education that by the turn of the century, one out of seven 
Americans will look at English as a foreign language.
  Now, Mr. Speaker, as has been said before, in America, we have always 
had the idea that we are the melting pot, that we are all the same. We 
do not believe in hyphenated Americans. We are all equal American.
  America must continue to be the melting pot. A Nation like America 
cannot be made up of groups. American is made up of individuals. As 
Woodrow Wilson said, as long as you consider yourself a part of a 
group, you are still not assimilated into American society, because 
America, like other nations, is made up of individuals and not made up 
of groups.
  So today, in this debate, we are discussing this issue from the 
perspective of over 200 years of American history, of our culture and 
the things we hold dear. We should look around us in this Chamber 
today. All of us can take part in this debate. Why? Because we have all 
adopted English as our language, and this bill will allow us to do that 
25, 50, and 100 years from now. Without this bill, we could not do 
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from 
Texas [Mr. Edwards].
  Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Chairman, will the gentleman yield?
  Mr. EDWARDS. I yield to the gentleman from Puerto Rico.
  Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Speaker, I wanted to say the previous 
speaker, who stated that Puerto Rico has Spanish as the official 
language; in Puerto Rico, both languages are official, Spanish and 
English. And there are no requirements that we cannot publish in any 
other languages any official documents. There is no prohibition.
  Mr. EDWARDS. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, I appreciate the 
gentleman's comments.
  Mr. Speaker, I find it ironic that some of the very people that will 
speak out in behalf of this English-only bill today are the very people 
who just a few weeks ago voted to cut education programs that helped 
young American schoolchildren learn English, voted against Head Start 
programs, voted against adult education funding programs that helped 
adults even speak English, voted to cut funding for title I that help 
our low-income Spanish speaking children in Texas learn how to speak 
  To me, in any language, that rhetoric versus that action does not 
make sense.
  It seems to me that the question today is not whether American 
citizens should be encouraged to learn English, because we all agree 
that is the language of our country. The question today is what is the 
best way to encourage and help our citizens become English proficient.
  I would suggest English plus is a much better approach than English 
only. I would suggest that debating education funding would be a better 
way to spend our time today than debating English only.
  The English-only bill before this House today is unnecessary, it is 
insulting, it is divisive, and it is discriminatory. It is unnecessary 
because I hardly believe the future of the American republic is at 
jeopardy because 3 percent of our population speak another language.
  It is insulting to millions of Americans, whether intended or not, 
Americans whose cultures are a part of the fabric of our Nation. To 
Hispanic-Americans in my home State, this kind of bill brings back the 
terrible, painful memories when years ago little Hispanic 
schoolchildren were segregated on the playgrounds and ostracized 
because they spoke the language, Spanish, of their parents, their 
families, and their grandparents.
  This bill is divisive because in a country of many cultures where we 
come together, it pits one group against another. Hispanic-Americans 
and others see this bill as an attack on their culture, upon their 
values, and, yes, even upon their families.
  At a time when we need to bring Americans together by building 
bridges rather than building barriers between different peoples, this 
bill separates us and tears us apart.
  This bill is discriminatory because it says to many of the elderly in 
America who have worked hard, supported their families, never been on 
welfare, and have paid taxes for 20 or 30 or 40 years that we want to 
make it more difficult for them to vote and to exercise their right as 
a citizen to participate in this democracy.
  Mr. Speaker, for all of those reasons, this bill should not be passed 
into the law of this land.

[[Page H9731]]

  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from 
Glens Falls, NY [Mr. Solomon], the chairman of the Committee on Rules.
  Mr. SOLOMON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this 
time, and I rise in strong support of this legislation.
  Mr. Speaker, today is a historic day, a day in which Congress focuses 
on those things which unite us as a country, and those which expand the 
horizons of opportunity for all of our citizens. The English Language 
Empowerment Act has nothing to do with fear, nothing to do with 
linguistic cleansing and nothing to do with targeting minority 
populations for political gain. My support of declaring the English 
language to be the official language of the Federal Government is based 
on two simple principles: unity and opportunity.
  Mr. Speaker, from the very beginning our Nation has recognized that

       The prosperity of the people of America depended on their 
     continuing firmly united, and the wishes, prayers, and 
     efforts of our best and wisest citizens have been constantly 
     directed to that object.

  .Now this observation was not made by me, these are the words of 
wisdom in the Federalist Papers by John Jay, our country's first Chief 
Justice of the Supreme Court.
  John Jay went on to say:

       I have * * * often taken notice that Providence has been 
     pleased to give this one connected country to one united 
     people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking 
     the same language * * * attached to the same principles of 
     government, very similar in their manners and customs, and 
     who by their joint counsels, arms, and efforts, fighting side 
     by side throughout a long and bloody war, have nobly 
     established their general liberty and independence.

  Based on this premise for the past two centuries, we have forged a 
nation out of our different peoples by emphasizing our common beliefs, 
our common ideals, and perhaps most importantly, our common language. 
Our English language has permitted this country to live up to our 
national motto, ``e pluribus unum''--out of many, one. For most of our 
Nation's history, the English language has been the key to integrating 
new Americans as well as the glue that has held our people together. It 
is in this spirit that this bill has been devised to secure English's 
central place in our society by making it America's official language.
  Now, this devotion to unity and to the English language is not 
founded upon any bedrock of racism, mean spiritedness or division. 
Rather it is premised on the belief that our strength in unit can best 
be preserved through the prevention of divisions along linguistic or 
cultural lines such as encountered by Canada with Quebec.
  Now what do I mean by divisions along linguistic lines? These 
divisions are not between people, but between opportunities. Americans 
who do not know English, are segregated from those who do, separated 
from everything the United States and its precious Constitution stands 
for. A declaration of English as the official language is necessary to 
demonstrate that the Federal Government's goal is to desegregate these 
  Yesterday in the Rules Committee we heard hours of testimony from 
members with deeply held concerns with this bill.
  Some were puzzled over what problem this bill was trying to solve; 
others claimed proponents of the bill were afraid that the English 
language was facing extinction in the United States. Well, let's be 
clear. This bill is intended to ensure that no American citizen, no 
matter what their cultural background, no matter whether they live in 
Puerto Rico, or Iowa, has to be trapped in a linguistic box, kept away 
from the tools of opportunity. This is the land of opportunity and the 
language of the land of opportunity is English. There should be no 
ambiguity about this fact. Current projections show that by the year 
2050 more than 20 million people in this country will not be able to 
speak English well or at all.
  That's 20 million people unable to even try to attain the American 
  The usage and understanding of English is the key to economic and 
educational opportunity in America. Therefore we as the Federal 
Government must promote and enhance the ability of all Americans, no 
matter what their heritage, to read, speak, and understand this 
language of opportunity. According to a study done by Dr. Richard 
Vedder and Dr. Lowell Galloway of Ohio University it was found that if 
immigrant knowledge of English were raised to that of native-born 
Americans, their income levels would increase by $63 billion a year. It 
was also concluded that the current situation has trapped 1.5 million 
immigrants in poverty. The simple truth is that those who cannot 
function in our country's predominant language are less able to find 
  As a result, they are cheated of the opportunity for improvement and 
happiness that America promises to millions. This bill places the 
Federal Government in the affirmative position of saying this tragedy 
is not going to continue.
  Furthermore, this bill has nothing to do with what languages we speak 
in our home, church or organization, or what foreign languages we may 
wish to learn. This establishes English as the official language of the 
government, not the private sector. Many of my good friends have 
expressed the hardships with which their families have sought to learn 
English while retaining their native tongue.
  I applaud them for their efforts and I do not want them to stop doing 
this. In fact, Americans should strive to learn other languages as a 
way of expanding their understanding of the entire world. However, this 
should not be at the expense of our common tongue.
  Winston Churchill once said ``the gift of a common language is a 
priceless inheritance.'' According to a USA Today poll taken in 1993, 
97 percent of the American population agreed with Winston Churchill and 
supported making English the official language of Government. A more 
recent study found that 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of 
immigrants want to make English the official language.
  Now some of my colleagues have claimed that this bill preys upon 
linguistic minorities in this country, reminding us that Alexis de 
Tocqueville warned that the danger of democracy was that a majority 
could exercise tyranny over a minority. While I acknowledge that this 
is a serious concern, I would also remind my colleagues that before de 
Toqueville gave this warning he also stated that ``the tie of language 
is, perhaps the strongest and the most durable that can unite 
mankind.'' Promoting this tie of language is not an attack on 
minorities, nor is it an act of self-preservation but it is a ramp to 
expanded opportunity and freedom for all Americans.
  Finally, Mr. Speaker, it must be understood why this bill goes 
farther than just declaring English to be the official language of 
government. Yes, it does repeal the bilingual ballot requirement, yes 
it does require the Federal Government to conduct its written business 
in English and yes it does require the INS to hold its naturalization 
ceremonies in English. Do you know why? It is because America is 
composed of people who have for centuries pulled themselves up by their 
bootstraps with courage and a vision to pursue the opportunity that 
America has to offer. All of us at one time or another were immigrants. 
Our forefathers came here for the same reasons immigrants now come 
  America is the land of opportunity and if the Government does not 
remove the impediments to assuring that these immigrants receive the 
keys to opportunity here, then I am afraid they will remain in what the 
New York Times called a bilingual prison. Bilingual ballots, and INS 
ceremonies and Government documents in other languages continue to 
uphold the untruth that you can live in America, you can have access to 
opportunity and you can achieve the American dream without being able 
to speak English. The Government can no longer mislead the citizenry.
  Mr. Speaker, I will close with the observation that 23 States have 
established English as their official language, 80 countries only print 
government documents in one language, 323 different languages are 
currently spoken in the United States, a knowledge of English has been 
a requirement of U.S. citizenship since 1811, and the bill before us 
today is supported by the American Legion, the VFW, the Catholic War 
Veterans, the National Grange, the General Federation of Women's Clubs 
and many others.

[[Page H9732]]

  This is a document of opportunity, a vision of unity and a 
compassionate measure. It deserves America's strongest support.

                              {time}  1145

  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the distinguished 
gentlewoman from Florida [Ms. Ros-Lehtinen].
  Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, as a public servant and educator, and 
a mother, I think it would be a great disservice to our children to 
make English the official language of the land, not only because of the 
domestic and international ramifications that it would have, but more 
so for the future of our children. It is time that as Americans we 
understand what educators throughout the world already seem to know, 
that proficiency in many languages ultimately results in increased 
understanding of others, awareness of other cultures and traditions, 
and ultimately improvements in our Nation's prosperity and welfare. 
Today, as a nation, we stand together joined by English as our primary 
language, and we hold hands as a nation, where our acceptance of 
diversity has given us greatness.
  Chief Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren once said, ``We are now at 
the point where we must decide whether we are to honor the concept of a 
plural society which gains strength through diversity, or whether we 
are to have bitter fragmentation that will result in perpetual tension 
and strife.''
  As a Cuban-American who immigrated to this country in 1960, I was 
granted the honor of living here in the United States, a nation where 
differences, not similarities are the norm and, most of all, a nation 
where for over 200 years this plural society has been the standard and 
where speakers of different tongues and persons of diverse cultures, 
ethnic backgrounds and walks of life have come with one goal: To live, 
persevere, and succeed in the United States of America, the land of the 
free and the melting pot of the world.
  With the onset of the 104th Congress, there have been proposals made 
by various of my colleagues that seek to make English the official 
language of the United States of America and to eliminate bilingual 
written and oral assistance for language minority voters. Persons who 
have immigrated in the past, who do so in the present, and who will 
continue to do so in the future, already understand that in order for 
them to be able to do well in this great Nation of liberty and freedom, 
where equality is the law of the land, they must learn English and no 
law is needed to stress this. Moreover not only do over 97 percent of 
Americans speak English, but newcomers to our great Nation are learning 
English faster than ever, thereby making English as the official 
language a moot point.
  There are many benefits to having no official language in a country 
renowned for our diversity and home to communities where many different 
languages are heard. Among some of the benefits are those to public 
health and safety, a better and improved educational system for our 
children, the continuation of Government access to millions of 
taxpaying citizens and residents and the creation of a more cohesive 
American society.
  Some would say that we are indeed a diverse nation, that we must 
provide for a common heritage through the use of the English language. 
Our heritage, however, is not so much English itself, but instead that 
regardless of race, color, creed, and our language preference, we have 
been given the honor of all being Americans.
  The fact that we are all members of this great Nation and benefit 
from its Democratic ideals and liberties is a far more cohesive bond 
than any language could ever be.
  From a more global perspective, it is obvious to all that America 
today is undoubtedly one of the world's top economic powers. In an 
everyday more globally interdependent world, where an astonishing four 
out of five jobs are created through exports, it is necessary that 
knowledge of other languages be encouraged in order to facilitate our 
business with the rest of the world and not force others to deal with 
us strictly in English. Establishing English as our official language 
would serve to undermine our competitiveness on a global scale.
  As a Florida certified teacher and a former owner of a bilingual 
private school in south Florida, I know this bill will not facilitate 
the transition for children who have already come to the United States 
and do not have enough of a grasp of the language to understand 
challenging subject matters. ``English only'' legislation would only 
prove to be a disservice to these children instead of facilitating 
their learning abilities.

                      Congressman McDade Acquitted

  (By unanimous consent, Mr. Shuster was allowed to speak out of order 
for 1 minute.)
  Mr. SHUSTER. Mr. Speaker, it is with a very happy tear in my eye that 
I announce the wire services are reporting that our colleague, the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. McDade] has been acquitted of all 
  Mr. MURTHA. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would yield, let me just 
add to what the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Shuster] said. Joe 
McDade has been under investigation for 6 years; under indictment for 2 
years; he has been hurt emotionally, physically, and they were 
challenging the rights of the House during all this period of time.
  Mr. Speaker, it really is a win for the House. The House sided with 
him in every appeal, and I think this is a strong message that goes out 
that the House of Representatives is a separate body. The jury 
understood that. We represent people.
  Mr. Speaker, Joe McDade is one of the finest individuals that I have 
ever served with, and I have served with him for 23 years on two 
separate committees, and day by day we sat together. And so I am just 
delighted to see this, and as the dean of the Pennsylvania delegation, 
I join with the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Shuster, in our 
commendation and congratulations to Joe McDade, who is such a wonderful 
individual, and to his family who suffered so much during this period 
of time.
  Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would 
yield, I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Shuster] and the 
gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. Murtha] for the words that they spoke 
today. The two of these gentlemen, as the deans of our delegations 
respectively, Republican and Democrat, have been there for Joe as 
friends over the past several very difficult years.
  Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise and say it is a tribute to this 
institution that so many Members of the House on a day-to-day basis 
asked about Joe McDade, asked about his health, about his well-being, 
about his family. And through a very difficult ordeal it was the 
Members of this institution, people like the gentleman from New York, 
Mr. Rangel, who I understand went up and testified as a character 
witness for Joe McDade, that is a real testimony to the character of 
this institution.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I applaud not just his verdict but the fact that all 
of us did not cut and run when Joe McDade had a charge levied against 
him. All of us who know Joe personally stood by his side through thick 
and thin, and all of us can share in that joy today, both Republicans 
and Democrats.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from New 
York [Mr. King].
  Mr. KING. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Georgia for 
yielding and before I begin my remarks, let me also join the House in 
congratulating the gentleman from Pennsylvania [Mr. McDade]. I am so 
delighted his long nightmare is over.
  Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of the rule and in support of the 
underlying bill. For the first 180 years of our Nation, immigrants came 
to our shores knowing that they had to learn the English language to 
become part of the American mainstream. They maintained their own 
cultures, their own traditions, their own religion, their own beliefs, 
their own parades, their own festivals, but they were bound together by 
the English language.
  Growing up in New York City in the 1940's and 1950's, I witnessed 
this firsthand. I saw the beautiful American mosaic of all the 
different cultures and belief, bound together with the glue of a common 
language. Unfortunately, in the past 45 years we have gotten away from 
that. We have bilingual education, bilingual voting, bilingual programs 
one on top of the other, which

[[Page H9733]]

results in dividing us as a Nation, dividing us by language.
  Mr. Speaker, if we are to come together as a nation, if we are going 
to build bridges and reassert and reestablish that beautiful American 
mosaic, it is essential that this bill be adopted.
  Mr. Speaker, I commend the gentleman from California [Mr. Cunningham] 
and the gentleman from Wisconsin [Mr. Roth] for the work they have done 
over the years. I urge all Members to vote for the bill and vote for 
the rule.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from California [Mr. Torres].
  (Mr. TORRES asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. TORRES. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the rule here 
today and its misguided effort to legislate the very obvious: That this 
Nation already speaks English.
  For anyone living in this country, engaging in commerce, seeking an 
education, or simply just traveling, English is the common language. On 
the WorldWide Web, English is the official de facto language. The 
majority of international commerce is conducted in English. Students 
from around the world vie for a U.S. education and a chance to learn 
English, and in places with high immigrant populations like my district 
in Los Angeles, the demand for learning English is so high that people 
must wait months and, yes, years to attend oversubscribed English 
  In an age of increased global competition, we should be nurturing our 
Nation's most valued treasures, the wealth of cultural knowledge and 
foreign language skills. And today, some of my colleagues would prevent 
us from capitalizing on the wealth this Nation has accumulated.
  Mr. Speaker, we cannot be afraid of language. Language is knowledge. 
Yes, my friends, we should encourage and I stress ``encourage,'' not 
legislate, that Americans learn and speak English. But a mandate of 
this sort that we are considering today could only be described as a 
veiled intolerance toward non-English-speaking Americans. It is 
unconstitutional. It is un-American.
  Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to take a look at the lawmakers 
outside of the beltway that have looked at the practical effects of 
this legislation. Both Governor Bush of Texas and Governor Whitman of 
New Jersey have spoken out against ``English only'' mandates. They 
realize that Americans are an asset and should not be shunned for their 
language deficiencies.
  We are a nation blessed with many differences, and I ask all of my 
colleagues to look up at the ceiling and read the inscription up there, 
``E pluribus unum,'' which means ``Out of many, one.'' We are one 
because our Constitution and its lasting democratic principles has done 
this for us.
  Our Nation should look to the world with pride for our Nation's 
differences and we should capitalize on that, and so I urge my 
colleagues to heed my call for tolerance and work toward the goal of 
enhancing English as the common language. We should not be mandating 
it. It is divisive. It is dividing us. It is not the glue that brings 
us together. The glue that holds America together is the democracy that 
we practice. It is the tolerance, it is the diversity that we enjoy.

                              {time}  1200

  This kind of legislation is unnecessary and is divisive. I urge a 
``no'' vote on the rule.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida [Mr. Stearns].
  Mr. STEARNS. Mr. Speaker, I say to the gentleman from California, out 
of many, one. On this side we believe that one means language, too, 
which is English.
  I would like to quote for him and others the late Senator Hayakawa, 
who said, ``America is an open society, more open than any other in the 
world. People of every race, of every color, of every culture are 
welcomed here to create a new life for themselves and their families. 
And what do these people who enter into the American mainstream have in 
common? English, our shared common language.''
  For that reason, I rise in strong support of the rule. This Nation of 
course is a melting pot, finding its strength in our citizens' unique 
diversity. However, we all share a common unifying bond, our English 
language. Mastering a nation's original native language is critical to 
succeeding in a society because it provides one with the opportunity to 
excel. This is not to say that the study of foreign languages should be 
discouraged. Quite the contrary, being fluent in a second or third 
language opens, more often than not, doors to new opportunities and 
experiences. But if the English language is not the top priority, the 
doors in our own Nation will remain closed to some, and they will be 
left behind. When one discourages another from learning English, they 
ensure that the non-English-speaking individual is denied their chance 
at attaining the great American dream.
  In a time when college graduates still have difficulty finding 
employment, what is left for those individuals who cannot communicate 
proficiently in English? While we continue to cherish the very cultures 
and heritage of the people that comprise this Nation, we need to have 
one language that unites and defines us as Americans if we are to 
ensure our continued success.
  Mr. Speaker, we need to communicate in one official language and that 
is English. That is why I urge support of the rule.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentlewoman from 
California [Ms. Roybal-Allard].
  Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the 
rule and the bill. Historically Americans have struggled to build a 
democratic society in which all citizens have equal access and 
opportunity. To ensure that every citizen was informed, our forefathers 
printed Government documents in German, French, and other languages. In 
1975, the Nixon-Ford administration recognized the importance of an 
informed electorate and successfully led the fight for bilingual 
ballots to help eliminate discrimination in the electoral process.
  Given our country's great history, it is a disgrace that we have this 
divisive and unnecessary bill before us, divisive in that it denies 
American citizens who are not yet proficient in English the right to 
access Government information in their native language, unnecessary in 
that 95 percent of U.S. residents already speak English.
  The bill's premise is also flawed. The common thread binding 
Americans is not only a common language but the quest for democracy, 
freedom, and justice for all.
  This bill breaks all strands of that common thread by dividing 
American citizens and unraveling civil rights in the name of national 
  Let us uphold the tradition of respect for the fabric of diversity 
that makes this country great. Let us defeat the rule and this bill.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Louisiana [Mr. Livingston], chairman of the Committee on 
  (Mr. LIVINGSTON asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
his remarks.)
  Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 123, 
the English Language Empowerment Act of 1996.
  This bill declares English to be the official language of the 
Government of the United States. It will require the Federal Government 
to conduct its official business in English including all citizenship 
naturalization ceremonies. The American people, including new citizens, 
have long championed the notion of making English our official 
language. To date, 22 States--including my home State of Louisiana--
have already declared English their official language. It is time to 
make English the Nation's official language.
  The bill also amends the Voting Rights Act to end Federal mandates 
for bilingual ballots. This will put an end to the unfunded mandate of 
requiring States to print ballots in different languages. Since 1975, 
States with certain populations of language minorities are required to 
print ballots in the native language of the minority. Currently, 375 
voting districts in 21 States are now required by Federal law to 
provide voting ballots and election material in foreign languages--6 
languages alone were on the ballot in the last mayoral election in Los 
Angeles. While there are some who believe this is worthy and necessary, 
the measure is dividing our Nation along ethnic lines. In addition, it 
is also unduly burdening the States and opening the system to potential 

  The issue of voter fraud disturbs me greatly. I fear bilingual 
ballots only help those who resolve to steal elections. According to 
the 1990

[[Page H9734]]

Census, California has 4.4 million non-citizens, Florida has 949 
thousand non-citizens. Texas has over a million non-citizens, and New 
York has 1.5 million non-citizens. In 1982, a Chicago grand jury 
reported that ``* * * many aliens register to vote so they can obtain 
documents identifying them as U.S. citizens * * * These aliens used 
their voter's card to obtain myriad benefits, from Social Security to 
jobs with the Defense Department.'' Unfortunately, many of these same 
individuals also vote. With the ballots printed in their native 
languages, its easy for crooks to convince these individuals--many of 
whom are unaccustomed to U.S. election laws--that it is okay for them 
to vote.
  We are an English speaking Nation. Most citizens understand this and, 
in fact, support this reality. Since 1906, all U.S. citizens are 
required by law to be able to comprehend English. And, since 1950, all 
U.S. citizens must demonstrate an understanding of English, including 
an ability to read, write and speak words in ordinary English usage. 
However, there are currently 323 languages spoken in the United 
States--115 languages alone spoken in the New York City Schools. Forty 
million Americans will be nonEnglish language proficient by the year 
2000. To keep America one Nation, one people we must have one common 
  Opponents of making English our official language claim that certain 
ethnic groups do not understand English and therefore must be 
accommodated. Well, since the 1960's, the Federal Government has been 
spending millions of taxpayer dollars on programs that teach English to 
nonEnglish speaking individuals. In addition, the Federal Government 
mandates that States and local governments also spend taxpayer money to 
teach English to nonEnglish speaking individuals. In 1995 alone, the 
Federal Government spent over $200 million on such programs. And, when 
you include State and local mandated spending for such programs, the 
amount skyrockets to $8 billion.
  Well, Mr. Speaker, something is obviously not working. It is becoming 
more and more evident that teaching children in their native, foreign 
language hinders their ability to learn English. Printing ballots in 
foreign languages does the same. Let's not perpetuate an already bad 
problem by officially recognizing languages other than English.
  Mr. LIVINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in favor of the rule and in 
support of the bill and would point to some of the change in my 
pockets, which the saying is on some of our currency, e pluribus unum, 
out of many comes one.
  The fact of the matter is that America is built on many cultural 
societies who have come together in unity and in an attempt to build 
one great Nation. Whether it ultimately ended up as English speaking or 
Spanish speaking is a matter of history. We are an English speaking 
Nation. It does not mean that people of Spanish heritage cannot 
treasure their heritage or speak Spanish at home. Likewise, Haitians or 
Iranians or Iraqis or people of any culture in this great country of 
ours can respect their cultures at home and in their communities and 
can speak in bilingual fashion. But to say that we will become a Nation 
of many official languages is to run a risk that no longer will we be 
unified as a Nation.
  In fact, Canada in recent years has experienced exactly that problem. 
they started recognizing French as an official language, as part of one 
major segment of the country. Now we see that Canada is on the verge of 
breakup, of disruption, within a matter of 5 to 10 years may not be a 
single nation, may be a segment of several different nations.
  I would not want to see that happen to the United States. We went 
through one great Civil War. We do not need to go through any more. 
This country has fought, has spilled blood to provide for a single 
Nation. We will remain that way if we speak one official language. I 
urge adoption of the rule and passage of the bill.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewomen from 
Hawaii [Mrs. Mink].
  Mrs. MINK of Hawaii. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the 
rule and to the bill. There is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court a 
contest on a constitutional provision added by referendum to the State 
of Arizona Constitution which falls along similar lines. The lower 
Federal court in the State of Arizona, as well as the U.S. Ninth 
Circuit Court of Appeals in looking at the provision that had been put 
into the Constitution, both unanimously held that the provision which 
called for English only, requiring all public employees to communicate 
with constituents only in English constituted a violation of the first 
amendment and that it was a denial of free speech.
  It is on this basis that I rise in opposition to the rule and to the 
bill. This legislation, though it is called an enhancement policy, in 
essence translates a feeling in this country about the importance of 
English, into a prohibition against the Government and its employees in 
the exercise of their duties to communicate in other than in English.
  When we took office we took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
  This, I believe, Mr. Speaker, to be the fundamental obligation of 
this body. Through the Committee on Rules and through our deliberations 
in our committees, the Constitution should be our guide and we should 
not enact, support, legislate in any way that deprives fundamental 
liberties in this country. Sure, every parent wants their child to 
succeed, to be prosperous. And the only proven way in this country to 
do that is to be proficient in English. So, the obligation of this 
Congress and of this Nation is to encourage it.
  Yes, I think we all believe that English is the common language of 
this country and in order to succeed here in trade and commerce, in all 
of our professions, we ought to be proficient in English. But this bill 
goes for beyond that. It does not enhance our democracy. It restricts 
it. It confines the duties of this Government to only those people who 
speak English.
  In fact, there is a section in this bill that says every other law 
that has been passed by the Congress from the beginning of this Nation 
to the present time which may require communication in languages other 
than in English only is hereby repealed.
  This Nation has been for open Government, for equal access, to take 
everybody who is here legally in this country and to accord them equal 
protection of the laws. This legislation does not do this. I hope that 
the Congress will not pass a law which is so divisive. The goal of this 
country is to unite behind the principles of democracy and not to go 
contrary to the Constitution.


  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that amendment No. 1 
printed in the report on the rule may be offered in the following 
modified form:

       At the beginning of the amendment, insert:
       Page 1, line 4, insert before ``English'' the words ``Bill 

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the 
gentleman from Georgia?
  There was no objection.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
Florida [Mr. Weldon].
  (Mr. WELDON of Florida asked and was given permission to revise and 
extend his remarks.)
  Mr. WELDON of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 123. 
Our country has a historic tradition of receiving immigrants from all 
around the world. H.R. 123 builds on that tradition and binds us 
together through the use of English as a common language.
  Over the past 20 years the Federal Government has increased the 
number of languages in which it publishes documents and conducts 
official duties.
  This has led to a de facto multilanguage policy which is very 
expensive for the taxpayer.
  H.R. 123 declares English to be the official language of the United 
States Government and serves to unit us even more as a Nation.
  All of us would agree that knowing English is a key to success in the 
United States.
  A 1994 study of Southeast Asian refugees in Texas showed that those 
who knew English earned more than 20 times the annual income of those 
who did not speak English.
  Knowing English will open a broad range of opportunities that would 
otherwise be unattainable.
  This bill fosters and encourages everyone to learn English.
  Encouraging immigrants to learn English is the compassionate thing to 
do and this bill does that.
  Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest reasons why I am rising in support of 
this bill is because it is what my mother would want me to do. She 
passed away in 1991, but she was born to Italian

[[Page H9735]]

American immigrants and spoke Italian as her first language.
  She always taught me that this move towards multilingualism in the 
United States was bad and divisive. On my way over here I was speaking 
to another Member who told me his high school now conducts official 
proceedings in two different languages. I think that is wrong. I think 
the language that binds us together is English, and my mother was 
right. I encourage everyone to support the rule and to support the 
  Mr. Speaker. As a cosponsor of H.R. 123, The English Language 
Empowerment Act, I rise in strong support of this bill. We are proud of 
our Nation's ability to assimilate people from around the world into 
one cohesive society. The purpose of H.R. 123 is to build upon our 
Nation's historic tradition as a melting pot of diverse cultures from 
around the world, and to bind us together through the use of English as 
a common language. This bill establishes a much needed uniform 
Government language policy, promotes assimilation, saves taxpayers 
money, and empowers immigrants to realize the American Dream for 
  This bill is needed because currently the Federal Government does not 
have a uniform national language policy on publishing documents or 
conducting its business. Whether documents are published in a foreign 
language depends in large part upon which particular Federal statute is 
involved. In addition, over the past 20 years the Federal Government 
has increased the official duties it performs in other languages 
resulting in a very costly de facto multi-language policy. This bill 
corrects this piecemeal approach by establishing English as the 
official language of the United States Government and requires the 
Government to conduct all its official business in English.
  H.R. 123 will not only establish a uniform national language policy 
for the Government, but it will promote assimilation of immigrants, 
rather than isolation and separation. The current policy fails to 
encourage recent immigrants to learn English. The failure to encourage 
immigrants to earn English may be the easy thing to do, but it is not 
the compassionate thing to do. The compassionate thing to do is to 
encourage immigrants to learn English. A firm grasp of the English 
language is a key to succeeding in America.
  Learning English not only helps immigrants assimilate, it is the key 
to having the opportunity to realize the American Dream. Studies show 
that people who learn English earn more for their families, and confirm 
that the ability to speak English can make the difference between a 
low-wage job and a high-wage managerial, professional, or technical 
job. In 1994, the Texas Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs 
publicized a study of Southeast Asian refugees in Texas. The study 
showed that individuals proficient in English earned more than 20 times 
the annual income of those who did not speak English. H.R. 123 empowers 
each new generation of immigrants the opportunity to realize the 
American dream.
  Nothing in this bill would in any way limit the ability to 
individuals to speak their native tongue. This bill simply limits 
official Government business to the English language.
  Not only does this bill benefit the immigrant, it also benefits the 
taxpayer. There are hundreds of languages spoken in the United States. 
According to the GAO, The Federal Government already prints many 
documents in foreign languages including Spanish, Portuguese, French, 
Chinese, German, Italian, Russian, and others. For American taxpayers 
the question is where does the printing of these documents in foreign 
languages stop? This bill ensures that all Americans can count on one 
language for Government action, polices, documents and proceedings.
  In conclusion, I support H.R. 123 because it helps recent immigrants 
by opening up to them a land of opportunity. It will stop the trend 
towards the separation and isolation. It will encourage assimilation. 
In supporting this bill I stand with 86 percent of Americans and 81 
percent of immigrants who want to make English the official language of 
the United States.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished 
gentleman from Texas [Mr. de la Garza].
  Mr. de la GARZA. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the rule and to 
the legislation for a multiplicity of reasons.
  One is that I saw a friend of mine recently, and this bill is making 
us the laughing stock of the world. He said, you Americans are going to 
speak English? I said, We do. But you are going to make it the official 
language? It is. This just puts it a line on a piece of paper.
  My district begins with Hispanics, what we call Anglos, Czech, 
Slovak, German, Polish, little Hungarian. That is the makeup of my 
district in south Texas.
  All of them speak English. All of us speak English in one form or 
another. But this is mean spirited, I do not care how we camouflage it. 
It is aiming at someone. It is aiming at a group in California or some 
other place. We do not want this. We do not want any more immigrants. 
We are going to shut it out.
  What are we going to do to the Statue of Liberty? I guess erase what 
it says on there.
  This is a problem that we have. This is mean spirited. It is 
camouflage. It is trying to stop people from doing something.
  English is the language of this country. That is what we speak. That 
is what we do. Everyone does that. My congressional district, we are 
teaching the kids. But do you want to stop something? Why do the big 
companies spend millions of dollars in Spanish on the billboards? To 
sell their product, to sell their product.

                              {time}  1215

  Mr. Speaker, saying that the Government of the United States has to 
function solely in English is ridiculous, it is absurd.
  Now let me tell my colleagues something. President Reagan stood in 
front of the wall in Berlin and says, ``Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this 
wall.'' Had bailing wire and bricks and mortar; it was torn down.
  We are going to rebuild the Berlin Wall around the United States of 
America. Not going to be bricks and mortar; it is going to be something 
called ``English only.'' We are going to build a wall around us, and my 
colleagues will live to regret the day.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to our colleague, the 
gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Traficant].
  (Mr. TRAFICANT asked and was given permission to revise and extend 
his remarks.)
  Mr. TRAFICANT. Mr. Speaker, America is a nation of immigrants. Some 
came with knapsacks on their shoulders, some came in chains and leg 
  But one thing America is not. America is not a nation of separation. 
All our citizens are Americans. The common denominator is our language. 
Our language is English. The glue that binds generation after 
generation is both our Constitution and our English language.
  Supporting programs that teach English, in my opinion, is not enough. 
Congress must insure that America does not become a nation of separate 
communities, separate tongues.
  So, Mr. Speaker, I say it is time to stop the politics of fear, 
politics of hate, politics of division. It is one America, one people, 
one community, one Nation under God I might add, and to best achieve 
those goals, ideals, and rights I believe is one official language.
  If someone else can make a better case for another language, I will 
  Mr. Speaker, I support this rule, and I support this bill and urge 
the Congress to do so as well for the sake of unity.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to my colleague, the 
gentleman from California [Mr. McKeon].
  Mr. McKEON. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of H.R. 123, the 
English Language Empowerment Act. H.R. 123 provides encouragement for 
immigrants to learn English.
  Today, when many immigrants reach our shores, they settle in 
neighborhoods largely inhabited by people who speak their native 
language. This is understandable, as it is much easier and more 
comfortable to associate with people of the same culture speaking a 
familiar language. However, to gain the full benefits of coming to this 
great land, it is imperative to learn the English language. Learning 
English is necessary in order for immigrants to build a better future 
for themselves and their families.
  Many of the bill's opponents claim that H.R. 123 will isolate our 
recent immigrants from the rest of society. When in fact, it 
accomplishes the exact opposite--it brings us together as a nation 
united under one common language.
  Again, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 123.
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to our colleague, the 
gentlewoman from California [Mrs. Seastrand].

[[Page H9736]]

  Mrs. SEASTRAND. Mr. Speaker, I rise in very strong support of this 
  Few Members here today on both sides of this debate would argue the 
fact that the United States is a country of immigrants, each of whom, 
through both their differences and similarities, have contributed a 
great deal to the fabric of our society. As the granddaughter of Polish 
immigrants, I can attest to this fact.
  But the debate we are having today is not about our differences, it 
is about our similarities. I am proud of my heritage--as are the many 
ethnic groups that make up the enormous cultural diversity of this 
Nation. My grandparents and parents spoke Polish at home when I was 
growing up and I do not believe anyone here today will argue against 
the practice of communicating in a language other than English. But 
they understood that mastering the English language was the key to 
opportunity, success, and prosperity in the United States.
  It simply makes sense to make English the official language of the 
United States, and vast amounts of Americans agree. In 1986, 73 percent 
of California voters overwhelmingly supported an amendment to the 
Constitution to establish English as the official language of 
California. So because of that, I would ask that we strongly support 
this legislation.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the distinguished 
gentleman from Arizona [Mr. Pastor].
  (Mr. PASTOR asked and was given permission to revise and extend his 
  Mr. PASTOR. Mr. Speaker, all morning we have been told that the 
reason we are having this bill is because people are divided and 
English being official would bring us together.
  But this bill only does one thing. It prohibits a Federal public 
official from corresponding in a written form to his or her 
constituents. That is all it does.
  And, Mr. Speaker, the basic problem with this bill is that it is 
unconstitutional. The Ninth Circuit of the United States has found that 
such a bill is unconstitutional for two reasons: In many cases 
sometimes a public official has to correspond in a language other than 
English because it is essential for communication; and to have an 
effective government, Mr. Speaker, sometimes we have to communicate in 
a language other than English.
  This is all that the bill does. It is unconstitutional and I would 
ask Members to vote ``no.''
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from 
California [Mr. Cunningham].
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, that is not all this bill does. Only 
one-tenth of 1 percent of all Federal documents go out under current 
law. But law is more than just law, it is symbology.
  How many of my colleagues watched Kerri Strug in the Olympics win a 
gold medal? When seeing that American flag come down, I bet many of my 
colleagues had tears in their eyes. That was powerful. That was power. 
That empowered not only Kerri Strug and the gold winners, but the 
American people.
  How many of my colleagues have ever witnessed or participated in a 
swearing-in ceremony? I have, many of them; and I want to tell my 
colleagues when they stand up and they hold up their hand, that is 
powerful and it is strong and it empowers those immigrants and the rest 
of the American citizens. That is important. It is not just law, it is 
empowerment of our children.
  Mr. Speaker, I look at over and over, there are 320 languages, over a 
thousand dialects, and the reason for the bill, this is the Bill 
Emerson bill, that there is an increasing number of American citizens 
that do not understand, write, or communicate orally with the English 
language, and we are saying that in the thirties and the forties and 
the fifties there was a different attitude, that when one came they 
learned English, and over a period of time that number is reduced, and 
we want to empower our children.
  We are not building a wall, we are tearing down a wall, because if I 
was mean-spirited, I would say: Stay where you are. Don't learn the 
English language. Stay wherever you want in your little communities and 
not have a portion of the American dream.
  But no, Mr. Speaker, we are not doing that.
  Governor Clinton in Arkansas signed a bill just like this one. Eighty 
nations in the world have signed their own language is a common 
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1\1/2\ minutes to my colleague, the 
gentleman from Georgia [Mr. Kingston].
  Mr. KINGSTON. Mr. Speaker, can my colleagues see the absurdity of 
this Congress and this Nation having a debate such as this:
  (Here, Member spoke in French.)
  That is French in my own attempt. In Italian we could say:
  (Here, Member spoke in Italian.)
  And I will try it in Japanese, Mr. Speaker:
  (Here, Member spoke in Japanese.)
  The interpretation is one language is important for our country.
  Now we can sit here and say and tell our children that it is not 
important to have one, but it is absolutely absurd. Nations need a 
common language.
  My uncle was a Hungarian immigrant. He spoke eight different 
languages. He was run out of Hungary by Nazi Germany. But he did not 
come to America to say, ``You need to start speaking Hungarian.'' He 
said, ``I'm going to start speaking English.'' He kept his Hungarian. 
And my cousin Clare, who was born in Spain, knew some Hungarian, today 
she knows Spanish. My sister Jean knows Italian. I minored in French. 
My colleagues would not believe it by the way my pronunciation was just 
  But the point is we have to have a common language in our country. 
This is not mean-spirited, this is not malicious. It is absurd for 
people who cannot come up with an intellectual argument to come back to 
that same old line: mean-spiritedness. This is common sense. So, Mr. 
Speaker, as we would say in Japan:
  (Here, Member spoke in Japanese.)
  In French:
  (Here, Member spoke in French.)
  In Italian:
  (Here, Member spoke in Italian.)
  Down home we say, ``We'll see you all later.''
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield such time as she may consume to 
the gentlewoman from Texas [Ms. Jackson-Lee].
  (Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas asked and was given permission to revise 
and extend her remarks).
  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I oppose the rule because it 
makes Americans not Americans. It is a bad rule and a bad bill.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I yield the balance of our time to the 
gentleman from Texas, Mr. Gene Green.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Nethercutt). The gentleman from Texas is 
recognized for 2\3/4\ minutes.
  Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to the 
bill and the rule. I consider the bill a dangerous bill, and unlike my 
colleague from Georgia, English is our common language. I admit, in 
Texas we speak a little different English from maybe in Georgia and New 
England, but we still speak English, and some Members in the House on 
both sides say that we do not.
  The reason for the opposition to this bill is that my colleagues talk 
about the bill, saying it is a common language. That is not what the 
bill says. If my colleagues brought a bill to the floor today that said 
English is a common language, they would not have any opposition to it 
because we would all agree with that.
  What this bill does, though, is separate it, prohibit the use of 
other languages, and even this rule that we have today is limiting our 
freedom to debate on this bill. A lot of amendments Members submitted 
to try and make this bill better and not so onerous were not allowed in 
the Committee on Rules because of the modified closed rules we are 
having, and once again we have a rule that we do not get to debate the 
full bill itself.
  English is our official language. My opposition said 99 percent of 
the documents that are printed are printed in English. This is a 
solution in search of a problem, Mr. Speaker. Our language classes for 
English in my district and everywhere in the country are overflowing. 
There is a waiting list now. They cannot advertise English language 
classes in Houston because they cannot fill them, and yet these are the 
same folks that cut education funding

[[Page H9737]]

for adult education. So do not come up and shed crocodile tears about 
how people ought to learn English when they cut adult education to 
people who want to learn English.
  This bill should be amended to recognize that English is our common 
language because that is what their debate is about, but it is not. 
This rule divides us and this bill divides us as Americans, because we 
share more than our language. We share our love of freedom and our 
willingness to fight for that freedom, no matter what our language is. 
And I thought that was aptly mentioned earlier by my colleague from 
Puerto Rico.

                              {time}  1230

  This bill divides our country, because we are united in more ways 
than language. Again, I will share with my colleague from California, 
he says ``Nothing typifies this more than the Olympic spirit,'' the 
unity we see, not just from around the world, but from the United 
States team in Georgia.
  We are going into the 20th century, and here this is a bill that I 
can imagine would have been debated last century. We are going into the 
20th century, to try to make sure we can compete in the world and 
compete everywhere, and yet we are going to punish someone in my office 
who writes a letter back to someone in German?
  I know there is an amendment to correct the bill, but it came out of 
committee, to punish Members of Congress for contacting, in response to 
people who write our office, whether it be in Spanish, Czech, German, 
or Vietnamese. They are going to clean it up, but this bill should have 
been worked on even more, because it is a bad bill and it is a bad 
  Mr. LINDER. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
  Mr. Speaker, in closing let me just say this is a modest attempt to 
do what the people of this country have wanted for some time in 
overwhelming numbers, to establish English as the first and official 
language of this country.
  For over 200 years, the glue that held the fabric of this society 
together was a common language. Thirty years ago, we began to change 
that. We began to deal with people in different languages. That 
isolated them. This bill is going to bring them back together. The 
isolation that was created by putting people in pockets of communities 
that spoke a different language kept them apart and out of the American 
dream. This is a modest effort to change that. I urge support for the 
  Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time, and I move the 
previous question on the resolution.
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent to proceed in 
order under the rule to accommodate the gentleman.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Nethercutt). Could the gentleman clarify 
his request?
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, this is for the purpose of unanimous 
consent, to change the language on one of the amendments, like we did 
with Mr. Emerson.
  Mr. BECERRA. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I am not 
sure which amendment the gentleman is talking about.
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, it is their side's amendment. I am 
trying to accommodate the gentleman, not us.
  Mr. BECERRA. Again, Mr. Speaker, if we could find out what the change 
would be before we decide.
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. It is right there before the gentleman.
  Mr. BECERRA. Mr. Speaker, under my reservation of objection, if I may 
ask the gentleman a question, if the gentleman is just providing some 
definition to ``Native American,'' is that the purpose of the 
gentleman's amendment?
  Mr. LINDER. Reserving the right to object, Mr. Speaker, I think it is 
appropriate that we see what is precisely being tried before we decide 
whether or not to object.
  Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, I withdraw my unanimous-consent request.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from California [Mr. 
Cunningham] withdraws his unanimous-consent request.
  Without objection, the previous question is ordered on the 
  There was no objection.
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the resolution.
  The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that 
the ayes appeared to have it.
  Mr. BEILENSON. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a 
quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not 
  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quorum is not present.
  The Sergeant at Arms will notify absent Members.
  The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 236, 
nays 178, not voting 19, as follows:

                             [Roll No. 388]


     Baker (CA)
     Baker (LA)
     Barrett (NE)
     Bryant (TN)
     Collins (GA)
     Fields (TX)
     Franks (CT)
     Franks (NJ)
     Greene (UT)
     Hastings (WA)
     Johnson (CT)
     Johnson, Sam
     Lewis (CA)
     Lewis (KY)
     Miller (FL)
     Payne (VA)
     Peterson (MN)
     Smith (MI)
     Smith (NJ)
     Smith (TX)
     Smith (WA)
     Taylor (MS)
     Taylor (NC)
     Watts (OK)
     Weldon (FL)
     Weldon (PA)
     Young (AK)


     Barrett (WI)
     Brown (CA)
     Brown (FL)
     Brown (OH)
     Bryant (TX)
     Collins (IL)
     Collins (MI)
     de la Garza
     Fields (LA)
     Frank (MA)
     Green (TX)
     Hall (OH)
     Hall (TX)
     Hastings (FL)
     Jackson (IL)
     Jackson-Lee (TX)
     Johnson (SD)
     Johnson, E. B.
     Kennedy (MA)
     Kennedy (RI)
     Lewis (GA)
     Miller (CA)

[[Page H9738]]

     Payne (NJ)
     Watt (NC)

                             NOT VOTING--19

     Peterson (FL)
     Young (FL)

                              {time}  1252

  Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas changed her vote from ``yea'' to ``nay.''
  So the resolution was agreed to.
  The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
  A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.