House again passes bill to delete 'Oriental'

Updated: 2016-03-02 09:28

By AI HEPING in New York(

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The US House of Representatives has again passed legislation sponsored by Representative Grace Meng that would remove the term "Oriental" along with other dated references to minorities from federal documents.

Meng's bill would strike all references to the offensive and outdated term in Title 42 of the US Code and replace the word with "Asian Americans". It also removes the terms "Negroes", "Indians" and "Eskimos" and replaces them with "African Americans", "Native Americans". and "Alaska Natives". The provision is part of an energy bill being debated by the Senate.

It was the second time that the House approved the legislation to remove the terms from federal law. The House first passed the measure in December as an attachment to the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act. That bill stalled in Congress and US President Barack Obama threatened to veto it due to unrelated provisions in the legislation. The House then voted on Meng's freestanding bill Monday night.

The bipartisan measure passed with 76 cosponsors, including every member of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC).

"The word 'Oriental' is an insulting and antiquated term and it's way past time for the United States government to stop using it," said Meng, a New York Democrat. "I thank my colleagues in the House for recognizing that, and hope the momentum to get rid of it continues to build. I now urge the Senate to pass this legislation as well. The federal government should not refer to any ethnicity in an insensitive and derogatory manner. This word must go!"

In 2009, Meng – when she was a member of the New York State Legislature – spearheaded legislation into law that eliminated the use of "Oriental' in all official New York State documents.