WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, the House unanimously passed H.R. 995, the 21st Century Respect Act, legislation cosponsored by Rep. Royce which requires the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of the Interior to replace the term “Oriental” with “Asian American or Pacific Islander” from all regulations.“Nobody, let alone the federal government, should use a hurtful term like ‘Orientals’ when referencing Americans of Asian descent,” said Rep. Royce. Americans of all backgrounds deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Congress is responsible for updating our laws and regulations with the times. This should also be true for the terminology. I’m pleased to see my House colleagues unanimously support taking action to ensure that our laws and regulations will no longer refer to Asian Americans in such an offensive way.”
Rep. Royce has taken a lead role in removing offensive terminology from federal laws and regulations during the 114th and 115th sessions of Congress.
In May of 2016, former President Obama signed legislation first authored by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Royce to strike the term “Oriental” from preexisting federal law and replace it with “Asian American.” That legislation, H.R. 4238, also removes the terms “Negroes,” “Indians,” and “Eskimos” from federal law.
In December of 2015, Rep. Royce and Rep. Grace Meng successfully amended H.R. 8, the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015, to strike the term “Oriental” from Title 42 of the United States Code and replace it with “Asian American.” The amendment also removes the terms “Negroes,” “Indians,” and “Eskimos” from the same law.