[Editor’s note: The following was issued by JACL Public Affairs VP Seia Watanabe and JACL Education & Communications Coordinator Matthew Weisbly and was lightly edited only to adhere to AP Style.]
On Dec. 20, the House and Senate appropriations committees announced the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023, an omnibus bill that will provide annual funding for the federal government and the passage of a variety of bills including the Norman Y. Mineta Japanese American Confinement Education (JACE) Act and the World War II Japanese American History Network Act. It also includes $4.1655 million for the Japanese American Confinement Sites program for the federal fiscal year 2023.
In light of this success, the JACL would like to take this opportunity to thank the primary sponsors of both bills. The introduction of the Norman Y. Mineta JACE Act was led by primary sponsors Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif., 6th District) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who also sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee. The Japanese American WWII History Network Act was led by Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-Calif., 8th District) and Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo).
Barrasso and his staff were especially instrumental with the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee to include these two bills in the omnibus.
The inclusion of both bills with primary sponsorship from both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress is a tribute to the bipartisan support our community has engendered from Congress and exemplified in the friendship between the late Secretary Mineta and former Sen. Simpson. In addition to Sen. Barrasso’s work, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and committee member Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) have been instrumental in shepherding the bills through the committee and the Senate.
The significance and impact of both bills and the process in which it took to arrive at this point cannot be overstated. We, at the JACL, are humbly grateful for the outpouring of support and activism of our community members, especially members of the Japanese American Confinement Sites Consortium, who worked with their representatives to move these bills through Congress and to achieve inclusion in the final omnibus bill.
We urge swift passage of the omnibus package in the House and Senate which will serve to continue the preservation and protection of U.S. confinement sites and expand the opportunities to educate the public through the WWII History Network and additional grant programs for education.