[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 145 (Friday, October 7, 1994)]
[Page S]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]

[Congressional Record: October 7, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]


  Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, last evening I mentioned an editorial in 
yesterday's Washington Post--which a growing number of people call the 
The Washington Compost. The editorial writers of The Post, who never 
allow accuracy or fairness to interfere with an ad hominem attack on 
someone with whom they disagree, published a mean-spirited opinion 
piece favoring proposed legislation that is tantamount to having 
Congress write an open-ended check requiring the American taxpayers to 
pay for a new Smithsonian museum at a time when the Federal Government 
has already run up a debt of more than $4.6 trillion.
  The editorial, entitled ``Another Congressional Casualty?'' was akin 
to being flogged with a wet noodle. In short, the editorial was 
remarkable in that it was difficult to find any accuracy in it.
  For example, Mr. President, the editorial stated that Senator Robert 
C. Byrd's amendment to the proposed museum legislation makes clear the 
new museum can't ask for public money for at least 5 years. In fact, 
the opposite is true. Had the editors bothered to look at the bill, 
they would have found that in section 9, the Byrd amendment reads as 

       There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be 
     necessary only for costs directly relating to the operation 
     and maintenance of the Museum.

  The Washington Post editorial writer conveniently neglected to 
mention that thus far, the Smithsonian has refused to provide Congress 
with any budget estimates for its first 5 years of operation, or any 
assessment of the burden on the taxpayers in connection with the 
proposed museum's programs and activities, which will include traveling 
road shows, media promotions, and training programs. Nor has the 
Smithsonian been willing to advise Congress as to an estimate for the 
number of employees the museum will hire, their salaries, or how much 
of these salaries the taxpayer will have to foot.
  For the record, I have, on numerous occasions asked the Smithsonian 
for the projected budget of this proposed museum including costs for 
its establishment, and its operation, maintenance and activities. The 
first Smithsonian response stated that the $475,000 already 
appropriated will be used to establish the museum, and that over the 
next 5 years, no additional taxpayer funds will be needed for the 
establishment of the museum. But the Smithsonian official refused to 
say how much in taxpayer funds will be needed for the other costs of 
the museum, that is, for its operation, maintenance and programs, 
including the traveling exhibits, the media promotions and the training 
programs for African Americans, all of which will amount to the bulk of 
the cost of the museum.
  So, I wrote back, thanking the Smithsonian for telling me how much it 
will cost to establish the museum, which of course was not the question 
I had asked. But now please tell me, I wrote, ``how much in Federal 
funds do you project that the museum will spend, for each of the next 5 
fiscal years, for all other aspects of the museum, that is, its 
maintenance, operation, programs and other costs, other than the costs 
for establishing the museum?''
  The Smithsonian responded that it will develop a strategy for private 
funding to support the establishment of the museum, a question I had 
not asked. I asked about the cost of all other aspects of the museum, 
that is, maintenance, operation, programs and other costs.
  So, you see what is going on, Mr. President, ask the Smithsonian one 
question, and you get a nonanswer, an answer to an entirely different 
question. The Washington Post editorial writer accepted the nonanswer 
as if it was the gospel.
  Then the editorial claimed I raised dark hints that the Nation of 
Islam will want a museum of their own if we create an African-American 
Museum. A contrived falsehood.
  What I asked the Smithsonian, in my letter of June 8, was: (1) What 
criteria were used in approving a museum specifically dedicated to 
African-Americans? and (2) Will the Smithsonian support creation of 
separate museums for all ethnic, racial and religious minorities 
meeting this criteria?
  Mr. President, those are reasonable questions, and we'd better get 
answers to them now--not later. Once Congress establishes a museum 
dedicated solely  to African-Americans every other minority will give 
thought to asking the taxpayers to pony up for a special museum for 
them. In fact, a Smithsonian report of May of this year, titled, 
``Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Latinos'' has 
already recommended a new museum dedicated to Americans of Hispanic 

  Once Congress gives the go ahead for African-Americans, how can 
Congress then say no to Hispanics, and the next group, and the next 
group after that? Of course Congress can't, and Congress won't. So 
where will it stop? No one knows. I doubt it will ever stop as long as 
Congress has the power to reach into the pockets of the American 
taxpayer and siege larger and larger amounts of tax dollars.
  Mr. President, I did, in my questions to the Smithsonian, inquire as 
to how the Smithsonian would deal with requests by the Nation of Islam 
which may desire to participate in the museum's programs and 
activities, a valid question inasmuch as the taxpayer is already 
subsidizing the Nation of Islam through the Department of Housing and 
Urban Development.
  I also asked how the Smithsonian would deal with requests to honor 
any of the leaders of the Nation of Islam. Another good question, to 
which I did not receive a straight answer, inasmuch, as I doubt many 
Americans want their tax dollars being spent to honor Louis Farrakhan 
and his ilk.
  It is by no means far-fetched to anticipate requests to honor in the 
museum's exhibits, people like Farrakhan, remember, it is the 
Smithsonian which attempted to use the 50th anniversary of the dropping 
of the atomic bomb as an excuse for putting together an exhibit 
demonizing America.
  The Post editors also lament what they claim is the possible loss of 
important collections, if the Congress fails to soak the taxpayer for 
this proposed museum. The editors declined to mention that these 
collections can be acquired by the Smithsonian for display in existing 
museums and exhibits dedicated to African-Americans.
  You see, Mr. President, there is the question of whether this 
proposed museum duplicates activities already being undertaken by the 
Smithsonian. The answer is that it does. First, there is the Anacostia 
Neighborhood Museum--which the Smithsonian advertises as a Smithsonian 
Museum of African American History and Culture. Yet the multi-million 
dollar museum to be created by the pending amendment is also portrayed 
by the Smithsonian to be a Museum of African American History and 
  If there is already one museum, financed by the taxpayers, dedicated 
to African American History and Culture, why is another one needed?
  Then, there is the African Art Museum on the Mall. And the National 
Museum of American History, which has two separate exhibits dedicated 
to African-Americans. And the National Museum of American Art, which 
this month opens an entire wing of one floor of its building dedicated 
to an African-American art exhibit entitled, ``Free Within Ourselves.'' 
And the National Portrait Gallery which features one exhibit on 
African-American journalists of the World War II era, and another 
exhibit entitled ``The Harlem Renaissance.'' The list goes on and on.
  Mr. President, the bottom line is that with a $4.6 trillion Federal 
debt the Washington Post could not, on the facts, justify a new 
Smithsonian museum when, (1) nobody knows how much it will cost, and 
(2) we don't know the number of employees, what their pay will be or 
who will pay them, (3) it duplicates other museums already funded 
within the Smithsonian, (4) the Smithsonian can't afford upkeep on 
museums and collections it already has and, (5) the museum will 
undertake numerous extraneous activities such as training programs, 
seminars and travel of which no cost estimates have been provided.
  So, Mr. President, the Washington Post did the next best thing--it 
handed out another one of its mean-spirited ad hominems. The trouble 
is, it was still a wet noodle.
  Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that The Washington Post 
editorial, ``Another Congressional Casualty?'', be printed in the 
Record at the conclusion of my remarks.
  There being no objection, the editorial was ordered to be printed in 
the Record, as follows:

                [From the Washington Post, Oct. 6, 1994]

                    Another Congressional Casualty?

       Back in 1990 when Congress first took up the idea of 
     establishing a Smithsonian museum of African American 
     ``history and heritage,'' the museum's projected opening date 
     was 1996. That still seemed feasible earlier this year: The 
     House overwhelmingly passed a bill authorizing the museum, 
     which would let it begin seeking contributions and gathering 
     artifacts, and the Senate seemed poised to do likewise. Only 
     one senator has been heard to express any opposition to the 
     bill as it now exists. But that senator is Jesse Helms, and 
     given the welter of other filibusters that need breaking in 
     the Senate's last days, supporters now say the African 
     American museum is a long shot at best.
       Lots of worthy legislation is expiring this month, of 
     course. But there are a few extra reasons for shame if the 
     Senate lets Mr. Helms kill this one. The first is that the 
     senator's stated concerns, reiterated in lists of questions 
     to the Smithsonian--mainly about possible cost and possible 
     undue ``influence'' by unsavory groups--have been 
     exhaustively and repeatedly answered. An amendment by Sen. 
     Robert Byrd makes clear the new museum can't ask for public 
     money for at least five years. (The designated building 
     already exists, and most funds are to be raised privately.) 
     The senator's dark hints that ``other groups,'' including the 
     Nation of Islam, will ``want one too'' if this museum is 
     created ignore the entire existing governance structure of 
     the Smithsonian, not to mention a decade's worth of 
     discussion as to what kinds of additions the Mall should make 
     to its portrayal of history.
       More important is that another year's delay would do 
     serious damage to the quality of what the museum ultimately 
     could show. The delay threatens irretrievable loss of some 
     important collections that Smithsonian prospectors have 
     already identified--including actual 19th-century photographs 
     taken on slave ships--but that, once identified, have come to 
     the attention of private collectors. It was a Republican 
     criticism in Congress that put a curb on the Smithsonian's 
     ability to solicit such contributions, after complaints that 
     the museum was backing congressional overseers into a corner 
     by coming to them seeking funds for already-promised 
     acquisitions. Museum officials then agreed that no such major 
     acquisitions could be made without congressional 
     authorization for the museum in which they would be put. That 
     makes good sense--except when Congress dallies year after 
     year for no other reason than procedural snarls and one 
     senator's mean-spirited obstruction.