Posted on November 15, 2007

House Anger Over English-Only Policies Boils Over

David Rogers, Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2007

Frustration among members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus broke into the open this morning in a rare twist: Democrats supporting a motion to adjourn the chamber their party controls.

California Rep. Joe Baca, a leader in the House caucus, set off the fireworks in protest of the Democratic leadership’s handling of a vote Thursday night related to English-only practices in the workplace. The adjournment motion failed narrowly, 204-184, with some of the protesters backing down. But the incident reflects real anger in the caucus given what many perceive as the current anti-immigrant political climate in Congress.


At issue Thursday night was a Republican nonbinding motion supportive of language that would bar Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from taking civil action against any organization which requires its employees to speak English at work. The Senate has adopted similar language as part of a budget bill funding the EEOC, and by a 218-186 margin, with 36 Democrats joining Republicans, the House voted to instruct its negotiators to accept the Senate amendment.

Baca complained that the leadership hadn’t adequately anticipated the motion. Fourteen Democrats were absent and others, who voted with the Republicans against the EEOC, were unaware of the motion’s import. “We need better intelligence,” he said.

“English-only is the only issue that unites all Hispanics,” said Rep. Jose Serrano (D., N.Y.).