A voice vote in the U.S. House of Representative on Tuesday approved a bill to remove antiquated racial labels in two federal regulations, according to media reports.
“Words definitely matter. They can cause great harm and division, particularly when they are embedded in federal statute,” New York Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, who authored the bill, stated on the House floor.
The measure seeks to replace the term “Negro” with “Black or African American” and “Oriental” with “Asian American or Pacific Islander,” as well as doing away with “Spanish surname” and “Eskimo” and change them to “Hispanic” and “Alaska Native.” This bill addresses affirmative action references in two specific federal regulations: Agriculture Department loan programs in rural areas and a Pennsylvania Avenue development plan in the District of Columbia from 1974.
This isn’t the first time that Congress has done some ethnic label house cleaning. Former President Barack Obama signed a bill in 2016 that eliminated the outdated racial identifiers, “Negro” and “Oriental” from two other sections of the U.S. code that dated back to the 1970s, regarding the Department of Energy and the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act. The legislation passed by a unanimous vote in the House of Representatives and the Senate earlier in the year before the president signed it. “The term ‘Oriental’ has no place in federal law and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.), who sponsored the bill, said last year. Some on social media are wondering if President Donald Trump, who opposes political correctness, is looking forward to his chance to sweep away the outdated racial labels by signing the bill.