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104th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 2d Session                                                     104-723
_______________________________________________________________________


 
                ENGLISH LANGUAGE EMPOWERMENT ACT OF 1996

_______________________________________________________________________


 July 30, 1996.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

     Mr. Goodling, from the Committee on Economic and Educational 
                 Opportunities, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                             together with

                             MINORITY VIEWS

                        [To accompany H.R. 123]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, to 
whom was referred 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, having considered the same, 
reports favorably thereon with an amendment and recommends that 
the bill as amended do pass.
  The amendment is as follows:
  Strike out all after the enacting clause and insert in lieu 
thereof the following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``English Language Empowerment Act of 
1996''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

  The Congress finds and declares the following:
          (1) The United States is comprised of individuals and groups 
        from diverse ethnic, cultural, and linguistic backgrounds.
          (2) The United States has benefited and continues to benefit 
        from this rich diversity.
          (3) Throughout the history of the United States, the common 
        thread binding individuals of differing backgrounds has been a 
        common language.
          (4) In order to preserve unity in diversity, and to prevent 
        division along linguistic lines, the Federal Government should 
        maintain a language common to all people.
          (5) English has historically been the common language and the 
        language of opportunity in the United States.
          (6) The purpose of this Act is to help immigrants better 
        assimilate and take full advantage of economic and occupational 
        opportunities in the United States.
          (7) By learning the English language, immigrants will be 
        empowered with the language skills and literacy necessary to 
        become responsible citizens and productive workers in the 
        United States.
          (8) The use of a single common language in conducting 
        official business of the Federal Government will promote 
        efficiency and fairness to all people.
          (9) English should be recognized in law as the language of 
        official business of the Federal Government.
          (10) Any monetary savings derived from the enactment of this 
        Act should be used for the teaching of the English language to 
        non-English speaking immigrants.

SEC. 3. ENGLISH AS THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

  (a) In General.--Title 4, United States Code, is amended by adding at 
the end the following new chapter:

            ``CHAPTER 6--LANGUAGE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

``Sec.
``161. Declaration of official language of Federal Government
``162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language
``163. Official Federal Government activities in English
``164. Standing
``165. Reform of naturalization requirements
``166. Application
``167. Rule of construction
``168. Affirmation of constitutional protections
``169. Definitions

``Sec. 161. Declaration of official language of Federal Government

  ``The official language of the Federal Government is English.

``Sec. 162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language

  ``Representatives of the Federal Government shall have an affirmative 
obligation to preserve and enhance the role of English as the official 
language of the Federal Government. Such obligation shall include 
encouraging greater opportunities for individuals to learn the English 
language.

``Sec. 163. Official Federal Government activities in English

  ``(a) Conduct of Business.--Representatives of the Federal Government 
shall conduct its official business in English.
  ``(b) Denial of Services.--No person shall be denied services, 
assistance, or facilities, directly or indirectly provided by the 
Federal Government solely because the person communicates in English.
  ``(c) Entitlement.--Every person in the United States is entitled--
          ``(1) to communicate with representatives of the Federal 
        Government in English;
          ``(2) to receive information from or contribute information 
        to the Federal Government in English; and
          ``(3) to be informed of or be subject to official orders in 
        English.

``Sec. 164. Standing

  ``A person injured by a violation of this chapter may in a civil 
action (including an action under chapter 151 of title 28) obtain 
appropriate relief.

``Sec. 165. Reform of naturalization requirements

  ``(a) Fluency.--It has been the longstanding national belief that 
full citizenship in the United States requires fluency in English. 
English is the language of opportunity for all immigrants to take their 
rightful place in society in the United States.
  ``(b) Ceremonies.--All authorized officials shall conduct all 
naturalization ceremonies entirely in English.

``Sec. 166. Application

  ``Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the provisions of 
this chapter shall supersede any existing Federal law that contravenes 
such provisions (such as by requiring the use of a language other than 
English for official business of the Federal Government).

``Sec. 167. Rule of construction

  ``Nothing in this chapter shall be construed--
          ``(1) to prohibit a Member of Congress or an employee or 
        official of the Federal Government, while performing official 
        business, from communicating orally with another person in a 
        language other than English;
          ``(2) to discriminate against or restrict the rights of any 
        individual in the country; and
          ``(3) to discourage or prevent the use of languages other 
        than English in any nonofficial capacity.

``Sec. 168. Affirmation of constitutional protections

  ``Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to be inconsistent with 
the Constitution of the United States.

``Sec. 169. Definitions

  ``For purposes of this chapter:
          ``(1) Federal government.--The term `Federal Government' 
        means all branches of the national Government and all employees 
        and officials of the national Government while performing 
        official business.
          ``(2) Official business.--The term `official business' means 
        governmental actions, documents, or policies which are 
        enforceable with the full weight and authority of the Federal 
        Government, and includes publications, income tax forms, and 
        informational materials, but does not include--
                  ``(A) teaching of languages;
                  ``(B) actions, documents, or policies necessary for--
                          ``(i) national security issues; or
                          ``(ii) international relations, trade, or 
                        commerce;
                  ``(C) actions or documents that protect the public 
                health and safety;
                  ``(D) actions or documents that facilitate the 
                activities of the Census;
                  ``(E) actions, documents, or policies that are not 
                enforceable in the United States;
                  ``(F) actions that protect the rights of victims of 
                crimes or criminal defendants;
                  ``(G) actions in which the United States has 
                initiated a civil lawsuit; or
                  ``(H) documents that utilize terms of art or phrases 
                from languages other than English.
          ``(3) United states.--The term `United States' means the 
        several States and the District of Columbia.''.
  (b) Conforming Amendment.--The table of chapters for title 4, United 
States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new item:

``6. Language of the Federal Government.....................     161''.

SEC. 4. PREEMPTION.

  This Act (and the amendments made by this Act) shall not preempt any 
law of any State.

SEC. 5. EFFECTIVE DATE.

  The amendments made by section 3 shall take effect on the date that 
is 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act.

                       Explanation of Amendments

    The provisions of the substitute, as amended by those 
amendments agreed to during the bill's mark-up, are explained 
in this report.

                                Purpose

    The purpose of this Act is to amend Title IV, United States 
Code, to declare English as the official language of the 
Government of the United States.

                            Committee Action

    H.R. 123, ``The Language of Government Act of 1995,'' was 
introduced in the House of Representatives on January 4, 1995 
by Representative Bill Emerson (R-MO). This bill was referred 
to the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities on 
the same day. On January 24, 1995 it was referred to the 
Subcommittee on Early Childhood Youth and Families. The 
Committee was also referred three other bills regarding English 
as the official or common language: H.R. 345, Language of 
Government Act of 1995, introduced on January 4, 1995 by Rep. 
Owen Pickett; H.R. 739, Declaration of Official Language Act of 
1995, introduced on January 30, 1995 by Rep. Toby Roth; and 
H.R. 1005, the National Language Act of 1995, introduced on 
February 21, 1995 by Rep. Peter T. King.
    All of these bills were discussed at two Subcommittee 
hearings regarding ``English as a Common Language.'' The first 
occurred on October 18, 1995 and the following witnesses 
testified at the hearing; Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL); 
Representative Bill Emerson (R-MO); Representative Peter King 
(R-NY); Representative Toby Roth (R-WI); and Representative 
Jose Serrano (D-NY).
    The second hearing was held on November 1, 1995 and the 
following witnesses testified: the Honorable Everett Alvarez of 
Conwall Inc.; Mr. Edward Chen of the American Civil Liberties 
Union; Ms. Linda Chavez of the Center for Equal Opportunity; 
Ms. Maria Lopez-Otin a Cuban immigrant and Federal liaison at 
the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission; the Honorable Nimi 
McConigly, State Representative from Wyoming; Mr. Charles 
Gogolak, former professional football player and Hungarian 
immigrant; Dr. Geeta Dalal, an immigrant from India; Mr. Mauro 
Mujica of U.S. English.
    The Early Childhood Youth and Families Subcommittee was 
discharged from further consideration of the bill. On, July 23, 
1996, the Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities 
ordered H.R. 123 favorably reported, as amended, by a vote of 
19 to 17.

                                Summary

    H.R. 123, the ``English Empowerment Act of 1996,'' amends 
Title 4 of the United States Code by adding a new chapter 
entitled ``Language of the Federal Government.'' This 
legislation declares English as the official language of the 
Federal Government. H.R. 123 mandates that the government 
conduct its official business in English, with the following 
exceptions: the teaching of languages; international relations, 
trade or commerce; actions or documents that protect the public 
health and safety; actions or documents that are not 
enforceable in the United States; actions that protect the 
rights of victims of crimes or criminal defendants; actions in 
which the United States has initiated a civil law suit; 
documents that utilize terms of art or phrases from languages 
other than English; actions or documents that facilitate the 
activities of the Census. According to the legislation no one 
may be denied services because they communicate in English. 
This bill allows standing to sue for violations of this Act. 
H.R. 123 mandates that all naturalization services be conducted 
in English. There is a rule of construction that requires that 
this bill to be consistent with the Constitution of the United 
States and that allows federal employees to communicate orally 
in languages other than English.

              Explanation of the Bill and Committee Views

    We are a nation of immigrants. Our history has been shaped 
by the contributions of immigrants of different cultures, 
religions and languages from around the world. 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, ``The 
English Language Empowerment Act of 1996'', 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.
    Over the past few decades, Congressional action and 
inaction has resulted in a balkanized national language policy, 
devoid of any clear, uniform principles. For example, whether 
documents are published in a foreign language depends in large 
part upon the particular Federal statute involved. Some Federal 
statutes require materials to be provided in an individual's 
native language or mode of communication. In other statutes, 
Federal law provides for services in the language and cultural 
context most appropriate to the individuals. While such 
provisions may initially sound reasonable, they have 
consequences. As Linda Chavez, former director of the United 
States Commission on Civil Rights, and current President of the 
Center for Equal Opportunity stated in testimony before the 
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families:

          [T]he public policy that has been in place over the 
        last 25 years * * * has discouraged immigrants from 
        learning English, and has made it quite possible for 
        immigrants to function in all aspects of their civic 
        life in their original language.

    The Committee believes it is time for a change; it is time 
to take stock of the piecemeal policies that have evolved, and 
replace them with a more uniform policy across all of the 
Federal government.
    Right now, the Bureau of the Census informs us that over 
320 different languages are spoken in the United States. Given 
this fact, it is obvious that Federal taxpayers cannot possibly 
publish every Federal document of whatever kind in 320 
different languages. Furthermore, one might also make the case 
that the current situation of selectively choosing to sanction 
a particular foreign language (i.e. publishing a document in 
Spanish and not the 319 others) the Federal Government is 
implicitly favoring certain languages and peoples over others. 
It is better to have one common language.

                    General Accounting Office Report

    No one knows for sure exactly how many Federal publications 
are printed in languages other than English. In 1995, in 
response to a request for foreign language documents from 
Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), the late Representative Bill 
Emerson (R-MO), and Representative William Clinger (R-PA), the 
General Accounting Office (GAO) wrote:

          We found that no single, comprehensive data source 
        existed within the federal government that could 
        identify and quantify the total number of foreign 
        language publications and documents issued both 
        internally and externally by federal government 
        agencies and organizations.

    The GAO did find two data bases, and conducted a limited 
search. The results were 265 of 400,000 documents published in 
foreign languages. While that represents less than 1%, the GAO 
noted that not all federal foreign language publications and 
documents are included in the databases, and the 265 foreign 
language documents should not be considered to be a total 
number government-wide. Equally significant is that the lengths 
of the documents were not discussed, nor the costs of 
translating the documents. Nor was there any mention of who 
decides what documents are to be printed in foreign languages. 
The point is not to quibble over facts and figures but rather 
to focus on the bigger policy: is America going to advocate 
policies like the learning of English to empower people to 
realize the American dream? Or, do we continue the trend toward 
balkanization of languages, encouraging people to interact only 
with those of similar backgrounds, and not assimilate into the 
larger American society? For American taxpayers, key questions 
become ``Where does it stop?'' and ``How many different 
languages are taxpayers expected to fund?''

       H.R. 123, The ``English Language Empowerment Act of 1996''

    The Committee believes a new policy consisting of a common 
sense, common language approach is needed. H.R. 123, the 
``English Language Empowerment Act of 1996'' represents just 
such an approach. The bill establishes English as the official 
language of the Federal government and requires the government 
to conduct its official business in English. It is the language 
of government, and not the private sector. The Committee 
emphasizes that the bill has no effect upon the use of foreign 
languages in homes, neighborhood, churches, or private 
businesses. Affirming English as the official language of 
government ensures that all Americans can count on one language 
for government actions, policies and documents. That is good, 
common sense. And it reinforces other national policies, such 
as the requirement that one be able to read, write and speak 
English before becoming a United States citizen.
    Not only does the bill represent good common sense, it also 
empowers individuals to become successful members of American 
society. It is our English language which unites us--a nation 
of diverse immigrants--as one nation. It promotes assimilation, 
rather than isolation and separatism. In all 50 states and the 
District of Columbia, it is English and no other language which 
is consistently written, spoken, and read in a widespread 
manner. The same cannot be said about other languages.
    As earlier alluded to, the English language is a powerful 
tool. It empowers each new generation of immigrants to access 
the American dream. Over and over, studies show that people who 
learn English earn more for their families, are better able to 
move about and interact in society, and can more easily build a 
bright future for themselves and their children. In 1994, the 
Texas Office of Immigration and Refugee Affairs published a 
study of Southeast Asian refugees in Texas. The study showed 
individuals proficient in English earned more than 20 times the 
annual income of those who did not speak English. Furthermore, 
a 1995 study by the Latino Institute confirmed that the ability 
to speak English can make the difference between a low-wage job 
and high-wage managerial, professional, or technical job.
    In testimony before the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, 
Youth and Families, witnesses spoke first-hand about the 
significance of learning English, and the need for official 
English legislation. Ms. Maria Lopez-Otin, Federal liaison 
officer for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, who came to this 
country at age 11 and without either parent, said,

          I have been able, I believe, to participate in the 
        American dream * * * [my] ability to communicate in 
        English is the essential first step in this journey.
          * * * from the immigrant's standpoint knowledge of 
        English is critically important to success in American 
        society, and discussions about immigration, bilingual 
        education, or English as a second language, are but 
        distractions from the issue at hand, the merits of 
        English as the official language of the United States.
          And, on that point, on whatever level you consider, 
        education, employment, politics, a social grounding in 
        English is imperative. Now, does this mean rejection of 
        our roots, our heritage, our original language, of 
        course not. What it means is that as Americans we 
        cannot hope to reach our fullest potential unless we 
        speak the language, * * * and that language is English.

    H.R. 123 is popular across the nation, as witness Mauro 
Mujica, Chairman of the Board of U.S. English and immigrant 
from Chile recently testified,

          Eighty-six percent of Americans and eighty-one 
        percent of immigrants want to make English the official 
        language of this country. The vast majority of citizens 
        in this country are fed up with the present day 
        situation which has fostered linguistic welfare. * * *

    Many other individuals and organizations support official 
English. This legislation enjoys the strong support of the 
American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, U.S. English, 
English First, the National Grange, and many others.
    The Committee wishes to note that some have 
mischaracterized the bill as an ``English only'' bill. It's not 
so. It is an ``official language of government'' bill. 
``English only'' legislation is commonly understood to be 
broader and more encompassing, such as the official language of 
an entire nation, public and private sector--not just of 
government. H.R. 123 is a more modest approach. This bill 
simply designates English as the official language for actions, 
documents and policies of the Federal government.
    Further, the ``English only'' terminology implies English 
at all times and no others. Such is not the case with this 
bill. Rather, H.R. 123 provides for several exceptions to the 
government conducting its official business in English. Those 
include: (1) teaching of languages; (2) national security 
issues or international relations, trade, or commerce; (3) 
public health and safety; (4) actions, documents, or policies 
that are not enforceable in the United States; (5) actions that 
protect the rights of victims of crimes or criminal defendants; 
(6) actions in which the United States has initiated a civil 
lawsuit; (7) documents that utilize terms of art or phrases 
from languages other than English; and (8) actions or documents 
that facilitate the activities of the Bureau of the Census in 
compiling any census of population. The bill also does not 
prohibit Members of Congress or employees or officials of the 
Federal government from communicating orally with other persons 
in a foreign language. In sum, the most accurate description is 
``official language of government,'' not ``English Only.''

                          Bilingual Education

    During the course of the consideration of H.R. 123 
questions have arisen about the impact of the bill upon the 
Bilingual Education Act. The Committee notes that H.R. 123 does 
not repeal the Bilingual Education Act, nor is the bill in any 
way intended to affect such Act.
    Other questions have arisen concerning the impact of the 
bill upon immersion programs where, for example, math and 
science are taught in Native Hawaiian. Assuming that Federal 
officials or employees would be involved in the teaching of 
such courses, the Committee believes section 168(2)(A) which 
allows for the ``teaching of languages,'' addresses such 
situations. Immersion programs generally involve the teaching 
of languages through immersion in the language for the teaching 
of all subjects. The teaching of a non-language course, such as 
math, in the immersion context, inherently involves the 
teaching of the language as well as the math. Accordingly, it 
is the Committee's intent that such situations fall within the 
exception to the English requirement.

                             Legal Analysis

    Opponents of the English Language Empowerment Act, 
including the Department of Justice, have suggested that 
declaring English the official language of government would be 
unconstitutional. H.R. 123 meets all federal court tests for 
constitutionality.
    At the outset, the Committee notes that on many occasions 
federal and state courts have held there is no right to the 
publication of Federal documents in foreign languages. See e.g. 
DaLomba v. Director of the Division of Employment Security, 369 
Mass. 92, 334 N.E. 2d 687 (1975) (Court held that 62-year-old 
Portuguese immigrant's procedural due process rights were not 
violated where unemployment compensation hearing notice was 
printed only in English, and she could neither read nor write 
English); Soberal-Perez v. Heckler, 717 F.2d 36 (1983) 
(Plaintiffs sued the Secretary of Health and Human Services 
claiming the Secretary's failure to provide forms and services 
in Spanish violated Hispanics' rights under the Equal 
Protection Clause of the US Constitution and under Title VI of 
the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Court held that English-only 
forms did not violate Spanish-speaking plaintiffs rights under 
either the Equal Protection Clause or under Title VI of the 
Civil Rights Act. Secretary's action in deciding that forms 
should be printed and oral instructions given in English 
language bore a rational relationship to a legitimate 
governmental purpose); Carmona v. Sheffield, 475 F.2d 738 (9th 
Circuit 1973) (no right to employment notices in Spanish); 
Toure v. United States, 24 F.3d 444 (2nd Circuit 1994) (no 
right to notice of administrative seizure in French); Fronter 
v. Sindell, 522 F.2d 1215 (6th Circuit 1975) (English only 
civil service exams do not violate equal protection rights. 
Language by itself does not identify members of a suspect 
class, and therefore does not trigger strict scrutiny); Vialez 
v. New York City Housing Authority, 783 F.2d 109 (S.D.N.Y. 
1991) (Housing authority's failure to provide documents in 
Spanish does not violate Title VI of the Civil Rights Act or 
the Fair Housing Act since ``it reflects, at most, a preference 
for English over all other languages'' rather than racial or 
ethnic discrimination); Garcia v. Spun Steak Co., 998 F.2d 1480 
(9th Circuit 1993), cert. denied 62 U.S. L.W. 3843 (S.Ct. 6-20-
94) (employer's English-only workplace rules do not violate 
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act).
    In the fall of this year, the United States Supreme Court 
will consider a case in which Arizona's Official English 
constitutional amendment was declared unconstitutional by a 
lower court. The case, now know as Arizonans for Official 
English v. Arizona, Supreme Court No. 95-974, was brought by 
Maria-Kelly Yniguez, an Arizona state employee who evaluated 
medical malpractice claims for the state of Arizona. Yniguez 
claimed Arizona state constitutional provisions which required 
English and no other language to be used by state and local 
government officials, was a violation of her First Amendment 
rights. A 6-5 majority of judges on the Ninth Circuit Court of 
Appeals held that the state constitutional language was overly-
broad and a violation of the First Amendment.
    The Arizona provisions struck down by the court are much 
different from H.R. 123. The Ninth Circuit said that its 
decision only applied to the Arizona law, ``by far the most 
restrictively-worded official-English law to date,'' and ``our 
opinion in this case should not be construed as expressing any 
view regarding'' the constitutionality of other, differently-
worded official-English laws. It is incorrect to say that the 
Yniguez decision suggests that H.R. 123 is constitutionally 
vulnerable.
    Aside from this one case, no court has ever struck down an 
official English statute. All have been upheld. For example, as 
referenced earlier, the United States Court of Appeals for the 
Second Circuit found no constitutional objection to government 
notices in English:
    ``We need only glance at the role of English in our 
national affairs to conclude that the Secretary's actions are 
not irrational. Congress conducts its affairs in English, the 
executive and judicial branches of government do likewise. In 
addition those who wish to become naturalized United States 
citizens must learn to read English. 8 U.S.C. 1423 (Supp. 1978) 
. . . Given these factors, it is not irrational for the 
Secretary to choose English as the one language in which to 
conduct her official affairs.'' Soberal-Perez v. Heckler, 717 
F. 2d 36, 42-43 (2d Cir. 1983), affirmed in Toure v. United 
States, 24 F. 3d 444, 446 (2d Cir. 1994) (per curiam).
    State courts agree. ``This is not an officially 
multilingual country, and notification of official matters in 
the sole official language of both this nation and this 
Commonwealth is patently reasonable.'' Commonwealth v. Olivio, 
369 Mass. 62, 337 N.E.2d 904,911 (1975); Castro v. California, 
2 Cal 3d 223, 242; 466 P. 2d 244 (1970).

                   States With Official English Laws

    Many states have led the way in enacting official English 
laws. President Clinton, in fact, while Governor of Arkansas, 
signed legislation declaring English the official language of 
Arkansas. Yet, the Administration now opposes this bill, a bill 
which arguably does not go as far as the Arkansas law. The 
Arkansas law established English as the official language of 
the state. H.R. 123, on the other hand, is more limited. It 
establishes English as the official language only of the 
government of the United States, not of the entire United 
States. In addition to Arkansas, 22 other states have official 
English laws which govern state and local matters. They are 
Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, 
Hawaii (English and Hawaiian), Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, 
Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North 
Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, 
Tennessee, Virginia, and Wyoming.

                   Nations With One Official Language

    Not only have states sought to address language issues, but 
nations as well. Over 79 nations from around the world have one 
official language according to the ``1996 Information Please 
Almanac and Resolving Language Conflicts: A Study of the 
World's Constitutions.''
    In addition, the Congressional Research Service recently 
contacted the embassies of France, Germany, Japan, and Austria 
and found that government documents in those countries are only 
printed in one language. For the United Kingdom, both English 
and Welsh are used, with Welsh serving as a second language 
only for those discussions in Parliament that have to do with 
issues of Wales. Similarly, both Italian and English are used 
in Italy. However, the use of English is only limited to those 
rare instances of publishing legal matters that pertain to the 
European Union. Judging by these examples from the world of 
nations, it is certainly not unreasonable for the United States 
to have one official language of government as H.R. 123 would 
do.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

    Section 1 contains the short title of the bill, the 
``English Language Empowerment Act of 1996.''
    Section 2 contains the findings.
    Section 3(a) amends Title 4 of the United States Code by 
adding at the end a new Chapter 6, as follows:
          ``Section 161 declares English as the official 
        language of the Federal Government.''
          ``Section 162 states that Representatives of the 
        Federal Government are obligated to preserve and 
        enhance the role of English as the official language of 
        the Federal Government.''
          ``Section 163(a) requires Representatives of the 
        Federal Government to conduct its official business in 
        English.''
          ``Section 163(b) states that no person shall be 
        denied Federal services or assistance, directly or 
        indirectly, solely because the person communicates in 
        English.''
          ``Section 163(c) states that every person in the 
        United States is entitled to communicate with 
        representatives of the Federal Government in English, 
        to receive or give information to the Federal 
        government in English, and to be informed of or be 
        subject to official orders in English.''
          ``Section 164 states that a person injured by a 
        violation of this chapter may seek appropriate relief 
        in a civil action.''
          ``Section 165(a) states that it is long-standing 
        national belief that full citizenship in the United 
        States requires fluency in English.''
          ``Section 165(b) requires that all citizenship 
        naturalization ceremonies be conducted entirely in 
        English.''
          ``Section 166 states that the provisions of this 
        chapter supersede any existing Federal law that 
        contravenes such provisions.''
          ``Section 167 sets forth three rules of 
        construction.''
          ``Section 168 states that nothing in the Act is to be 
        construed to be inconsistent with the Constitution of 
        the United States.''
          ``Section 169 includes definitions. `Official 
        business' is defined as governmental actions, policies 
        and documents, such as Federal income tax forms and 
        other informational materials. The definition of 
        official business does not extend to the following: the 
        teaching of languages; actions or documents that 
        facilitate the activities of the Census; actions, 
        policies or documents necessary for national security, 
        international relations, trade or commerce; actions or 
        documents that protect public health and safety; 
        actions that protect the rights of victims of crimes or 
        criminal defendants; actions in which the United States 
        has initiated a civil lawsuit; or documents that use 
        terms or art or phrases from other languages.''
          ``Section 169(b) contains a conforming amendment.''
    Section 4 states that this Act shall not preempt State law.
    Section 5 sets forth the effective date as 180 days after 
the date of enactment.

  Statement of Oversight Findings and Recommendations of the Committee

    In compliance with clause 2(l)(3)(A) of rule XI of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives and clause 2(b)(1) of 
rule X of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee's oversight findings and recommendations are 
reflected in the body of this report.

                     Inflationary Impact Statement

    In compliance with clause 2(l)(4) of rule XI of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee estimates that 
the enactment into law of H.R. 123 will have no significant 
inflationary impact on prices and costs in the operation of the 
national economy. It is the judgment of the Committee that the 
inflationary impact of this legislation as a component of the 
federal budget is negligible.

                    Government Reform and Oversight

    With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(D) of 
rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives, the 
Committee has received no report of oversight findings and 
recommendations from the Committee on Government Reform and 
Oversight on the subject of H.R. 123

                           Committee Estimate

    Clause 7 of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of 
Representatives requires an estimate and a comparison by the 
Committee of the costs which would be incurred in carrying out 
H.R. 123. However, clause 7(d) of that rule provides that this 
requirement does not apply when the Committee has included in 
its report a timely submitted cost estimate of the bill 
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
under section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974.

                Application of Law to Legislative Branch

    Section 102(b)(3) of Public Law 104-1 requires a 
description of the application of this bill to the legislative 
branch. This bill applies to the Federal Government and as such 
applies to the Legislative Branch.

                       Unfunded Mandate Statement

    Section 423 of the Congressional Budget and Impoundment 
Control Act requires a statement of whether the provisions of 
the reported bill include unfunded mandates. The Committee 
received a letter regarding unfunded mandates from the Director 
of the Congressional Budget Office. See infra.

                             Correspondence

    The Committee received the following letters regarding this 
legislation:
                                       The American Legion,
                                     Washington, DC, July 15, 1996.
Hon. William Goodling,
Chairman, House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The American Legion solidly supports 
H.R. 123, ``The Language of Government Act of 1995.''
    During The American Legion's 76th National Convention in 
Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1994, delegates passed two 
Resolutions calling for the establishment of English as the 
official language of this country. (Copies of each Resolution 
are attached for your reference.) This organization has been on 
record since 1983 as supporting English language legislation.
    Billingual education programs should serve as short-term 
steps for immigrants to achieve proficiency in the English 
language and should not, as these programs are now, be used to 
encourage separatism. Proficiency in the English language is 
not only the key to economic opportunity in the United States 
but also the pathway for joining the mainstream culture of this 
country.
    The American Legion supports this legislative initiative--
please inform this office if we can be of assistance.
            Sincerely,
                                           Steve Robertson,
                         Director, National Legislative Commission.
    Enclosure.

Resolution No. 47 (NE), 55 (NJ) and 222 (DC) using the language of 47.
Subject: The English language be declared the official United States 
    language.
Committee: Americanism.

    Whereas, The United States has over the many years been a 
haven and in most cases a new home for people of many ethnic 
backgrounds; and
    Whereas, These people, although keeping their ethnic 
background alive, were urged to take advantage of the 
educational system that taught them the English language and 
American history; and
    Whereas, Many of preferred visitors and new citizens, 
although clinging to their ethnic backgrounds did with pride 
take advantage of learning the language of the United States; 
and
    Whereas, Bilingual programs funded by the Department of 
Education are designed to teach students with the primary 
instruction in the student's home language, while English is 
subjected to a secondary status; and
    Whereas, These programs tend to encourage separatism, 
rather than a unification of purpose; and
    Whereas, There exists alternative bilingual education 
program which provide a more efficient transition to 
proficiency in the English language; now, therefore, be it
    Resolved, By the American Legion in National Convention 
assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 6, 7, 8, 1994, 
That The American Legion encourage legislation which would 
establish English as the official national language; and, be it 
further
    Resolved, That the American Legion encourage Congress to 
pass a constitutional amendment to designate English as the 
official language of Government in the United States; and, be 
it further
    Resolved, That the American Legion urge Congress to 
encourage and fund alternative bilingual education programs to 
serve as was intended, as a short intermediate step to achieve 
proficiency in the English language.
                                ------                                

Resolution No.: 371.
Subject: The English language be declared as the official U.S. 
    language.
Committee: Americanism.

    Whereas, In the United States the English language is 
undergoing gradual displacement in this era of high 
immigration; and
    Whereas, While many immigrants want to learn English 
because it is the key to economic opportunity in the United 
States, some immigrant groups appear to minimize the English 
language concept, providing little encouragement to learn 
English and thereby discouraging newcomers from joining the 
mainstream culture in America; and
    Whereas, Bilingual education programs funded by the U.S. 
Department of Education, in large, are designed to provide 
long-term instruction in a student's native language, while 
English is subjected to a secondary status; and
    Whereas, The aforementioned programs and practices tend to 
encourage separatism rather than unification of purpose; and
    Whereas, The cost to all Americans would be unaccountable 
to have all legal papers, ballots, court proceedings, and laws 
printed in foreign languages, and dialects; and
    Whereas, English has been recognized as the official 
language by eighteen states that have enacted legislation or 
amended their constitutions to designate it as such; now, 
therefore, be it
    Resolved, By The American Legion in National Convention 
assembled in Minneapolis, Minnesota, September 6, 7, 8, 1994, 
That The American Legion strongly urges that by an Act of 
Congress, and acts by State legislatures, the English language 
be declared the official language for Government in the United 
States; and be if further
    Resolved, That The American Legion should work to develop 
in all Americans an appreciation for the role English plays in 
holding our society together and making this Nation strong; 
and, be it finally
    Resolved, That The American Legion urges Congress, through 
legislative action, to increase support for and fund 
alternative bilingual education programs that will serve as 
short-term steps for immigrants to achieve proficiency in the 
English language.
                                ------                                

                           Veterans of Foreign Wars
                                      of the United States,
                                     Washington, DC, July 16, 1996.
Hon. William F. Goodling,
Chairman, Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
United States (VFW) has a long-standing interest in having the 
English language designated as the official language of the 
Government of the United States. Please note the attached copy 
of VFW Resolution No. 103 that directly supports bill HR 123. 
This bill, introduced by Mr. Emerson and 37 other initial 
cosponsors on January 4, 1995, reflects strong bipartisan 
congressional support for such action. Therefore, I ask on 
behalf of the 2.1 million members of the VFW that you hold a 
hearing on this bill as soon as possible and report it out 
favorably to the full committee for house action before the 
summer recess.
    A big part of ongoing VFW efforts involves programs to 
provide effective patriotic education programs, to include 
citizenship responsibilities for schools and youth groups. We 
do this by recognizing that while America is comprised of 
peoples of all races, nationalities, and languages, we must all 
use the English language as a common means of communication. 
Our overall goal is to teach our youth that the English 
language and a respect for our flag are common threads that 
will allow us to remain the most prosperous and enterprising 
nation in which to live as we enter the next century.
    Thank you for all efforts to take favorable action on the 
``Language of Government Act of 1995.'' If the VFW can be of 
further support to you or your committee please let us know.
            Sincerely,
                                             Paul A. Spera,
                                                Commander in Chief.
    Enclosure: as stated.

  Resolution No. 103--Mandate English as the Official Language of the 
                             United States

    Whereas, the people of the United States have brought to 
this nation the cultural heritage of many nations; and
    Whereas, the United States has been greatly enriched by 
such cultural diversity; and
    Whereas, the people of the United States, despite their 
many differences, have lived together harmoniously and 
productively as citizens of one nation; and
    Whereas, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States 
is an association of men and women who as soldiers, sailors, 
marines, airmen and nurses served this nation in wars, 
campaigns and expeditions on foreign soil or in hostile waters 
and air; and
    Whereas, Section 713 of the National By-Laws of the 
Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States provides that all 
VFW Posts shall conduct their meetings in no other language 
than the English language; and
    Whereas, the English language has always been our strongest 
common bond and has contributed substantially to our social 
cohesiveness; and
    Whereas, English is our language by custom only and enjoys 
no special legal protection; and
    Whereas, other languages have been promoted as alternatives 
and have gained a measure of government acceptance through 
bilingual education and bilingual voting ballots; and
    Whereas, the erosion of English and the increased official 
usage of other languages is a divisive force within our nation; 
now, therefore
    Be it resolved, by the Veterans of Foreign Wars of the 
United States, that we reaffirm mandates of previous 
conventions to seek legislation mandating English as the 
official language of the United States; and
    Be it further resolved, that we seek legislation to: (1) 
limit bilingual education to short term transitional programs 
only; (2) effect a speedy return to voting ballots in English 
only; (3) make more opportunities available to immigrants for 
learning English and maintaining the English languages a 
condition for naturalization; and (4) enact legal protections 
for the English language, at state and national levels through 
the designation of English as our official language.
    The intent of this resolution is:
          (1) To urge the Congress to enact legislation 
        mandating English as the official language of the 
        United States.
          (2) To urge Congress to enact legislation limiting 
        bilingual education to short term transitional programs 
        only, return voting ballots to English only, make 
        available more opportunities to immigrants to learn 
        English and to maintain the English language as a 
        condition for naturalization.
    Approved by the 96th National Convention of the Veterans of 
Foreign Wars of the United States.
                                ------                                

                       Catholic War Veterans of the
                            United States of America, Inc.,
                                     Alexandria, VA, July 23, 1996.
Hon. Bill Goodling,
Chairman, House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, House 
        of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Congressman Goodling: The Catholic War Veterans of the 
United States of America are hereby requesting your support for 
passage of HR 123--making English the OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF 
GOVERNMENT. We have been informed that the bill will be voted 
on tomorrow--July 24, 1996. Thanking you, I remain
            Sincerely,
                                             John H. Walsh,
                                                National Commander.
                                ------                                

                             National Grange of the
                             Order of Patrons of Husbandry,
                                     Washington, DC, July 23, 1996.
Hon. William F. Goodling,
Chairman, Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee, Washington, 
        DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: On behalf of the 300,000 members of the 
National Grange, I want to reaffirm our support to make English 
the official language of the United States. We strongly support 
passage of H.R. 123, ``The Language of Government Act.''
    The National Grange thanks you for your dedication to 
seeking passage of the bill.
    Thank you for considering the National Grange's position on 
this important issue.
            Sincerely,
                                      Kermit W. Richardson,
                                           Master, National Grange.
                                ------                                

                                             English First,
                                    Springfield, VA, July 23, 1996.
Hon. William Goodling,
Chairman, Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, U.S. 
        House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Chairman Goodling: English First is pleased to endorse 
Congressman Cunningham's Committee Substitute version of H.R. 
123, the Language of Government Act.
    A nation as diverse as ours requires a common language to 
preserve its national unity. The Committee Substitute version 
of H.R. 123 has been carefully crafted to protect individual 
rights and liberties while ensuring that the government of the 
United States functions in English.
    The Committee Substitute reflects a consensus of the views 
of key leaders on this issue, such as former Senate Majority 
Leader Bob Dole, Congressman Toby Roth (Chairman of the 
Congressional English Language Task Force), Congressman Peter 
King, Congressman John Porter and the late Bill Emerson.
    The need for a national language policy is all too apparent 
when we contemplate how national linguistic divisions soon lead 
to other divisions. Our neighbor to the north, Canada, is a 
cautionary lesson in the dangers of official multilingualism.
    The Committee Substitute version of H.R. 123 is an 
important first step toward repairing our national unity and 
preserving America as a nation of immigrants.
            Sincerely,
                                           Jim Boulet, Jr.,
                                                Executive Director.
                                ------                                

                                        U.S. English, Inc.,
                                     Washington, DC, July 23, 1996.
Hon. William Goodling,
Chairman, House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Chairman Goodling: On behalf of the 800,000 members of 
U.S. ENGLISH, the nation's largest, non-partisan, non-profit, 
citizens' action group dedicated to preserving the unifying 
role of the English language in the United States, I would like 
to declare to the House Committee on Economic and Educational 
Opportunities our organization's ardent support for H.R. 123, 
The Language of Government Act.
    Through language policy has historically not been a matter 
of great public concern in the United States, the last twenty 
to twenty-five years have witnessed a growing interest in this 
topic. From the mid-19th century until recently, a strong sense 
existed in the United States that non-English speaking people 
should--and would--ultimately learn English and that even those 
language enclaves which did establish themselves would adopt 
English as a primary language within a few generations. As a 
result, little official concern for, or attention to, the 
designation of an official language policy seemed necessary.
    However, in the last quarter-century, the notion of America 
as a melting pot has been challenged. A body of government 
policies and practices has evolved piecemeal, based on the goal 
of protecting ethnic and cultural diversity, with little 
attention paid to the question of what the optimal overall 
language policy for the United States ought to be.
    The very implementation of these policies, which have been 
costly both financially and socially, has brought an immediacy 
to the need for an official language policy. Further, there is 
a growing perception in America or linguistic instability, 
compounded by the close-to-home Canadian example of bilingual 
conflict. We feel that by promoting a common language, the 
government will encourage unity, political stability, and 
government efficiency.
    The intent of our organization is to enact a government 
language policy that will empower immigrants to gain 
proficiency in English to allow them to fully take advantage of 
the economic opportunities that are only available in this 
country. H.R. 123 is a proactive measure intended to avert the 
proliferation of costly multi-language government policies and 
practices. To give an indication of the problems currently 
facing the government as a result of having no official 
language policy, consider the following question: If Spanish-
speaking persons can demand general bilingual programs, or can 
demand Spanish versions of Social Security forms, would that 
not entitle members of smaller language groups, such as Greeks 
or French, have a similar right to forms or services in their 
respective languages?
    The time has come to put an end to the syphoning of crucial 
budget dollars for the wasteful practice of multi-lingual 
government, and to put the focus back where it belongs: 
teaching citizens English.
            Sincerely,
                                           Mauro E. Mujica,
                                         Chairman of the Board/CEO.
                                ------                                

                  Hungarian Reformed Federation of America,
                                     Washington, DC, July 24, 1996.
Hon. Bill Goodling,
Chairman, House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Sir: The Hungarian Reformed Federation of America, a 
fraternal life insurance society organized in Trenton, New 
Jersey, in 1896, is in full support of the goals and 
initiatives of the official English language policies with 
specific regard to H.R. 123, the Official Language of 
Government Act, sponsored by the late Bill Emerson of Missouri.
            Cordially,
                                              George Dozsa,
                                                         President.
                                ------                                

                       General Federation of Women's Clubs,
                                     Washington, DC, July 24, 1996.
Hon. Bill Goodling,
Chairman, House Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, 
        Washington, DC.
    Dear Chairman Goodling: On behalf of the General Federation 
of Women's Clubs (GFWC), I would like to express appreciation 
to you for holding today's hearing on the Official Language 
Government Act (H.R. 123). As a long-time supporter of 
legislation to make English the official language of the United 
States, GFWC wholeheartedly supports your committee's 
consideration and Congress' adoption of H.R. 123.
    Throughout history, the United States of America has been 
enriched by the cultural contributions of immigrants from many 
diverse traditions. Also, it has been blessed with one common 
language (English) which has united a diverse nation and 
fostered harmony among its people. In recognition of all that 
has made this country great, GFWC urges federal action to 
protect our nation's language.
    For more than 100 years, GFWC members have met the most 
pressing needs of the country's communities through volunteer 
service. With its broad-based network of community activists, 
GFWC has marshalled resources successfully to tackle the issues 
that affect the lives of women, children and families.
    Thank you again for your and the committee's attention to 
this matter.
            Sincerely yours,
                                         Faye Z. Dissinger,
                                           International President.

     Budget Authority and Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    With respect to the requirement of clause 2(l)(3)(B) of 
rule XI of the House of Representatives and section 308(a) of 
the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 and with respect to 
requirements of clause 2(l)(3)(C) of rule XI of the House of 
Representatives and section 403 of the Congressional Budget Act 
of 1974, the Committee has received the following cost estimate 
for H.R. 123 from the Director of the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                     Washington, DC, July 30, 1996.
Hon. William F. Goodling,
Chairman, Committee on Economic and Educational Opportunities, House of 
        Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
reviewed H.R. 123, the English Language Empowerment Act of 
1996, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Economic 
and Educational Opportunities on July 24, 1996. Because H.R. 
123 could affect direct spending, pay-as-you-go procedures 
would apply. However, CBO estimates that enacting this 
legislation would not significantly affect the federal budget.
    Bill purpose.--H.R. 123 would declare English as the 
official language of the federal government and require that 
representatives of the federal government conduct official 
business--including issuing forms, publications, and 
informational materials--in English. The bill would allow 
representatives of the federal government to communicate orally 
in a language other than English while performing official 
business. The bill would exclude from the English-only 
requirement the teaching of languages, the activities of the 
U.S. Census Bureau, and governmental actions necessary for 
national security, international trade or relations, public 
health and safety, and the protection of the rights of victims 
of crimes or criminal defendants. The bill's provisions would 
not apply to the territories of the United States.
    Federal budgetary impact.--CBO expects that H.R. 123 would 
decrease some costs while increasing others. On the one hand, 
requiring that agencies print forms, publications, and 
informational material in English only could reduce certain 
costs. Agencies would probably print the same amount of forms, 
but would not have to incur the cost of translating English 
documents. On the other hand, other costs could increase if the 
requirement of English-only forms results in agencies 
substituting more expensive oral translation services for 
information in writing. The net change in costs would depend on 
how agencies interpret the bill's exemptions, particularly for 
activities that are in the interest of public health and 
safety. According to a review by the General Accounting Office 
only about 0.06 percent of federal documents are in a language 
other than English. Thus, CBO expects that the bill would have 
little effect on the federal government. Further, if agencies 
interpret the bill's exemption for public health and safety to 
include programs such as Food Stamps and Medicaid, the effect 
would be even smaller.
    H.R. 123 would provide standing to sue the federal 
government if an individual were denied services, assistance, 
or facilities solely because the individual communicates in 
English. CBO estimates that any increase in direct spending 
that might arise from such potential lawsuits would not be 
significant.
    Impact on State, local, and tribal governments.--H.R. 123 
contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Public Law 104-4). 
Because the federal government would no longer provide many 
bilingual forms if this bill is enacted, states who administer 
federal programs (Food Stamps and Medicaid, for example) could 
incur additional costs if they choose to provide translation 
services to individual in need of such assistance.
    Impact on the private sector.--H.R. 123 would impose a new 
private-sector mandate, as defined in Public Law 104-4, by 
requiring that all official business of the federal government 
be conducted in English. That provision would effectively 
require the private sector, which includes non-English-speaking 
individuals, to conduct all official transactions with the 
federal government in English.
    To the extent that official business between the federal 
government and the private sector is now conducted in languages 
other than English, H.R. 123 would impose new costs on the 
private sector. Official federal government business, however, 
is conducted overwhelmingly in English. Consequently, the new 
mandate should not impose a substantial burden on the private 
sector as a whole. Nevertheless, some non-English-speaking 
individuals could face significant hurdles to completing 
official business with the federal government--particularly 
with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Social Security 
Administration (SSA)--and would be required to obtain an 
interpreter. I most cases, translation services would be 
provided free of charge or at minimal cost by volunteer 
organizations, or bilingual federal workers or the English-
literate family members of non-English-speaking persons would 
act as interpreters. Thus, CBO estimates that the direct cost 
of complying with the new private-sector mandate contained in 
the bill would be below the $100 million threshold.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contacts are John R. 
Righter (for federal costs), Marc Nicole (for the state and 
local impact), and Matthew Eyles (for the private-sector 
impact).
            Sincerely,
                                         June E. O'Neill, Director.


         Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported

    In compliance with clause 3 of rule XIII of the Rules of 
the House of Representatives, changes in existing law made by 
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (new matter is 
printed in italic and existing law in which no change is 
proposed is shown in roman):

                      TITLE 4, UNITED STATES CODE

Chap.                                                               Sec.
      The Flag.........................................................1
     * * * * * * *
      Language of the Federal Government.............................161
          * * * * * * *

             CHAPTER 6--LANGUAGE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

Sec.
161. Declaration of official language of Federal Government
162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language
163. Official Federal Government activities in English
164. Standing
165. Reform of naturalization requirements
166. Application
167. Rule of construction
168. Affirmation of constitutional protections
169. Definitions

Sec. 161. Declaration of official language of Federal Government

  The official language of the Federal Government is English.

Sec. 162. Preserving and enhancing the role of the official language

  Representatives of the Federal Government shall have an 
affirmative obligation to preserve and enhance the role of 
English as the official language of the Federal Government. 
Such obligation shall include encouraging greater opportunities 
for individuals to learn the English language.

Sec. 163. Official Federal Government activities in English

  (a) Conduct of Business.--Representatives of the Federal 
Government shall conduct its official business in English.
  (b) Denial of Services.--No person shall be denied services, 
assistance, or facilities, directly or indirectly provided by 
the Federal Government solely because the person communicates 
in English.
  (c) Entitlement.--Every person in the United States is 
entitled--
          (1) to communicate with representatives of the 
        Federal Government in English;
          (2) to receive information from or contribute 
        information to the Federal Government in English; and
          (3) to be informed of or be subject to official 
        orders in English.

Sec. 164. Standing

  A person injured by a violation of this chapter may in a 
civil action (including an action under chapter 151 of title 
28) obtain appropriate relief.

Sec. 165. Reform of naturalization requirements

  (a) Fluency.--It has been the longstanding national belief 
that full citizenship in the United States requires fluency in 
English. English is the language of opportunity for all 
immigrants to take their rightful place in society in the 
United States.
  (b) Ceremonies.--All authorized officials shall conduct all 
naturalization ceremonies entirely in English.

Sec. 166. Application

  Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, the provisions 
of this chapter shall supersede any existing Federal law that 
contravenes such provisions (such as by requiring the use of a 
language other than English for official business of the 
Federal Government).

Sec. 167. Rule of construction

  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed--
          (1) to prohibit a Member of Congress or an employee 
        or official of the Federal Government, while performing 
        official business, from communicating orally with 
        another person in a language other than English;
          (2) to discriminate against or restrict the rights of 
        any individual in the country; and
          (3) to discourage or prevent the use of languages 
        other than English in any nonofficial capacity.

Sec. 168. Affirmation of constitutional protections

  Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to be inconsistent 
with the Constitution of the United States.

Sec. 169. Definitions

  For purposes of this chapter:
          (1) Federal government.--The term ``Federal 
        Government'' means all branches of the national 
        Government and all employees and officials of the 
        national Government while performing official business.
          (2) Official business.--The term ``official 
        business'' means governmental actions, documents, or 
        policies which are enforceable with the full weight and 
        authority of the Federal Government, and includes 
        publications, income tax forms, and informational 
        materials, but does not include--
                  (A) teaching of languages;
                  (B) actions, documents, or policies necessary 
                for--
                          (i) national security issues; or
                          (ii) international relations, trade, 
                        or commerce;
                  (C) actions or documents that protect the 
                public health and safety;
                  (D) actions or documents that facilitate the 
                activities of the Census;
                  (E) actions, documents, or policies that are 
                not enforceable in the United States;
                  (F) actions that protect the rights of 
                victims of crimes or criminal defendants;
                  (G) actions in which the United States has 
                initiated a civil lawsuit; or
                  (H) documents that utilize terms of art or 
                phrases from languages other than English.
          (3) United states.--The term ``United States'' means 
        the several States and the District of Columbia.
                             MINORITY VIEWS

    [T]he protection of the Constitution extends to all, to 
those who speak other languages as well as to 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--a 
desirable end cannot be promoted by prohibited means.\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\ Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                    hasty consideration of h.r. 123

    No hearing addressing this specific bill were ever held 
before a subcommittee or Full Committee; nor was the 
legislation marked-up and fully debated at the subcommittee 
level. Now, the bill has been hastily scheduled for Floor 
consideration. Given the enormity of constitutional and 
practical problems with this bill, the Republican Majority 
should be embarrassed by its rushed and careless consideration 
of this measure.

      h.r. 123 is utterly unnecessary, non-sensical, and dangerous

    We agree that learning English should be a priority for all 
persons residing in the United States. In fact, there is 
extremely high demand for English language classes. Unlike most 
Members of the Republican Majority, we Democrats are committed 
to the expansion of Federal support for ``English as the Second 
Language'' and for Bilingual Education programs.
    As a practical matter, the American people recognize 
English as the primary and common language of the United 
States. According to the 1990 Census, 97% of the people in the 
United States speak English at least well. And, according to 
the General Accounting Office, more than 99.9 percent of all 
Federal documents and publications published during the 1990-
1995 period were in English.
    Languages other than English are very rarely used in 
official government business. When invoked, they further often 
critical and indispensable government interests.
    Our Republican colleagues characterize H.R. 123 as ``common 
sense'' legislation. What is sensible about a bill that 
mandates such exclusive use of English but utterly fails to 
address the practical need for adequate English-language 
preparation?
    H.R. 123 is not a mere declaration of ``English as the 
official language of the United States.'' It is hopelessly 
vague and ambiguous legislation. It is unnecessary legislation; 
a legislative solution in search of a problem. It is 
unconstitutional legislation, on many grounds. And it is mean-
spirited, morally wrong, and dangerously divisive.
    Hearings held last Fall before the Committee on Early 
Childhood, Youth and Families on this issue were inconclusive, 
with both Democrats and Republicans raising concerns about the 
need and the justification for the ``English-Only'' or 
``English First'' proposals. WHY IS THIS BILL MOVING NOW? With 
such limited time remaining on the legislative calendar of the 
104th Congress, the Republican Majority has chosen to engage in 
the politics of division and marginalization of our language 
minority residents. Instead of truly empowering people in the 
use of English by ensuring that adequate funds are made 
available for English-as-a-second language classes, the 
Republican Majority has directed its attention to ``protecting 
the English language'' as though it were under some bizarre 
attack by other languages.

             impact of h.r. 123 on language minority groups

    H.R. 123 defies our heritage of tolerance and respect for 
linguistic diversity. Throughout its history, the United States 
has been enriched by its linguistically diverse population. At 
the time of our nation's Independence, English was spoken along 
with German, Dutch, French, native American, and other 
languages.
    The restrictions imposed by H.R. 123 are antithetical to 
its purported objectives. Immigrants themselves recognize that 
in order to better their own lot, and that of their families, 
learning English is imperative. New arrivals to our shores 
flood the far too few ``English as a Second Language'' classes 
held across the country. In Washington, D.C., 5,000 immigrants 
were turned away from English classes in the 1994 school year. 
In New York City, schools have had to resort to a lottery to 
determine enrollment. In Los Angeles, more than 40,000 
applicants remain on waiting lists for English classes.
    Ironically, official English laws and proposals do nothing 
to increase resources needed to provide English instruction. By 
restricting the Federal Government's ability to communicate 
with, and provide services to, non-English speaking Americans 
(many of whom are children and the elderly) H.R. 123 would 
inhibit and deny fair and equal access to such basic and 
fundamental services as voting assistance, education, social 
security, and police protection.
    We are extremely concerned about the effects of the 
legislation on Americans who speak over 150 non-English 
languages that are native to our country and more than 100 
other languages that span the globe.
    The 1990 U.S. Census found that 31.8 million persons age 5 
years and older spoke a language other than English (14% of the 
total population). Further, that census reported that 6.7 
million persons age 5 years and older indicated that they spoke 
English ``not well'' or ``not at all'' (3% of the total 
population).

   h.r. 123 will create a sweeping, ill-defined federal mandate and 
                    promote government inefficiency

    H.R. 123 would engender a monstrous Federal mandate in a 
new area of Federal regulation. The legislation's mandate that 
the Federal government ``preserve and enhance the role of 
English as the official language of the Federal Government'' 
clearly is overbroad and vague.
    H.R. 123 would hamper the basic functions of Government and 
compromise its effectiveness. As our colleague Delegate Romero-
Barcelo (D-PR) noted, during consideration of his amendment to 
exempt the bill in cases where government efficiency would be 
furthered, the Department of Justice has warned that:

          [P]assage of H.R. 123 would decrease administrative 
        efficiency and exclude Americans who are not fully 
        proficient in English from education, employment, 
        voting, and equal participation in our society. In 
        these fiscally difficult times, government efficiency 
        and economy would better be promoted by allowing 
        government agencies to continue their limited use of 
        other languages to execute their duties effectively.

    We are confounded that the Republican Majority touts a bill 
that will obstruct such basic government functions as tax 
collection, disaster preparation, water and resource 
conservation, and execution of civil and criminal laws and 
regulations. What logical public policy could this bill 
possibly support?

                  h.r. 123 is constitutionally suspect

    This Fall, the United States Supreme Court will hear the 
case of Yniguez v. Arizonans for Official English. In 1988, the 
citizens of Arizona narrowly passed a ballot referendum 
amending the Arizona constitution to declare English the 
official language of the State. The referendum mandated that 
all government business, with few exceptions, be conducted only 
in English.
    The plaintiff, Marie Kelley Yniguez, a bilingual Latina 
employee of the Arizona Department of Administration, filed 
suit to enjoin the State's implementation of the pertinent 
article of Arizona's constitution on the grounds that the 
provision violated, among other things, the First and 
Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. A Federal 
district court found the pertinent article facially overbroad 
under the First Amendment. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit Court 
of appeals, sitting en banc, affirmed the lower court's 
decision.
    The Republican Majority claims that ``Arizona provisions 
struck down by the court are much different from H.R. 123.'' To 
the contrary, we find the Arizona law legally indistinguishable 
from H.R. 123 as reported by the Committee. The Majority's 
effort to rest the constitutionality of H.R. 123 on a scattered 
collection of Federal and State court rulings is unpersuasive. 
The legal crux of the cases relied on by the Majority addresses 
the question of whether non-English speakers have an 
affirmative right to compel government to provide information 
in a language they understand. One of the major constitutional 
questions raised by H.R. 123 is whether the Federal Government 
may restrict the official speech of Federal officials.
    These are two quite different legal issues. In light of the 
upcoming decision by the United States Supreme Court in the 
Yniquez litigation, the actions of this committee with regard 
to this legislation are premature.

 effect of h.r. 123 is unclear concerning bilingual education programs

    We remain concerned about the impact of H.R. 123 on the 
Bilingual Education Act. Although the Majority states in its 
views that its intent is to except bilingual education from the 
bill, we remain wary that the text of the legislation does not 
provide sufficient legislative shelter. Providing such 
protection is a simple drafting matter. Resort to ambiguous 
Committee report language is, at best, confusing.

              h.r. 123 would generate frivolous litigation

    Throughout the 104th Congress, the Republican Majority has 
endeavored to ``reform'' product liability and tort law for the 
ostensible purpose of eliminating frivolous lawsuits.
    Therefore, we are mystified by sections of H.R. 123 that 
create an ``entitlement'' to English-only communication and 
that grant a private cause of action for persons claiming 
injury by non-English government communication. These 
provisions are among this ``maddening'' bill's most outrageous 
aspects. Why in the world would the Republican Majority want to 
clog Federal courts with such meddlesome litigation? And why 
should Congress chill the activities of government officials 
that further efficient and effective governance?

     h.r. 123 undermines law enforcement and ignores new means of 
                             communication

    Simply put, this legislation is weak on crime. The 
operations of such Federal agencies as the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation (FBI) and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) would 
be impaired by the implementation of H.R. 123. Much of the work 
done by the FBI to combat multi-national organized crime and 
much of the activity of the DEA to win the war against drugs is 
carried out in non-English languages at a time where neither a 
victim or a defendant is identifiable. The exemption providing 
that non-English languages may be used for reasons of ``public 
safety'' or to ``protect the rights of victims of crimes or 
criminal defendants'' is virtually useless.
    In addition, the legislation makes no exception for such 
means of communication as electronic mail and broadcast media, 
and raises questions of censorship in an era of high speed 
computers, cyberspace, and the global economy. The Federal 
Government regulates telecommunications and grants, sells, and 
regulates broadcast licenses. The Federal Government operates 
Internet servers. H.R. 123 seems to have been drafted in a 
technological and historical vacuum.

          H.R. 123 Jeopardizes Relations with Native Americans

    The United States has long recognized that Indian tribes 
possess attributes of sovereignty. Congress has enacted 
numerous statuses that affirm this principle. By repealing 
these statutes, H.R. 123 would impede severely Federal 
Government relations with Native Americans.
    Protecting and perpetuating Indian languages is essential 
to the preservation of Indian culture. We are concerned that 
implementing an English-only policy on Indian reservations will 
hinder the survival of the Navajo and other native languages. 
Today, all Indian languages are threatened. Of the 155 Indian 
languages still spoken in the United States, only 20 are now 
spoken by Indian children. The Navajo Nation is among the 20 
nations whose children still speak their native language. The 
Navajo Nation, and all other Indian nations, have experienced 
firsthand the effects of government-sanctioned English-only 
policies. Past policies to ``assimilate'' Indian children 
condoned physical and spiritual punishment of children who 
spoke their native language. Many Navajos can still recall 
being beaten and punished for speaking their language. Many 
Navajo parents fear that their children will be punished in 
similar ways should a move toward reenacting such policies 
occur.

                         Effect on Puerto Rico

    We are greatly concerned about the impact of this bill on 
American citizens of Puerto Rico. Nearly 4 million people 
reside in Puerto Rico, many of whom do not speak English as a 
first language or are not completely proficient in English. 
This bill would impose a barrier between the people of Puerto 
Rico and the Federal government, if agencies which serve Puerto 
Ricans are prohibited from conducting business in Spanish. 
Although English is already the language in which the Federal 
courts and Federal agencies operate in Puerto Rico, verbal and 
written communication in Spanish has facilitated the 
administration of Federal laws and policies in Puerto Rico and 
enables citizens to be fully informed of their rights and 
responsibilities. It is entirely unclear whether the bill 
allows Federal government entitles in Puerto Rico to conduct 
business in Spanish.

              English Plus--A Balanced, Unifying Approach

    At Full Committee, we Democrats unanimously embraced an 
amendment offered by Representative Xavier Becerra (D-CA) that 
views the diversity of our Nation, its people, its language, 
its culture, as something to celebrate, not something to fear 
and resist. The Becerra amendment recognized that, throughout 
our Nation's history, multilingualism has better protected us 
in war, furthered our ability to communicate among ourselves 
and with the rest of the world, and enhanced our 
competitiveness in the global marketplace. In the end, the 
Becerra amendment simply and eloquently stated that our 
national policies should continue to promote such benefits of 
multilingualism.
    We Democrats share a commitment to English language 
learning and also to multilingualism. Our government should 
facilitate both objectives.
    We urge the full House to reject H.R. 123.

                                   William L. Clay.
                                   Dale E. Kildee.
                                   Matthew G. Martinez.
                                   Tom Sawyer.
                                   Patsy T. Mink.
                                   Jack Reed.
                                   Xavier Becerra.
                                   Gene Green.
                                   Carlos Romero-Barcelo.
                                   Earl Blumenauer.
                                   George Miller.
                                   Pat Williams.
                                   Major R. Owens.
                                   Donald M. Payne.
                                   Robert E. Andrews.
                                   Bobby Scott.
                                   Lynn C. Woolsey.
                                   Chaka Fattah.