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House Authorizes the BEST Act; the Senate is the Next Stop


WASHINGTON DC., September 24, 2021 -- Today, the full House of Representatives approved the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contained an amendment that would authorize the Bilingual Education Seal and Teaching (BEST) Act. The BEST Act would provide federal support to establish and implement Seal of Biliteracy programs, which encourages and recognizes high school students who achieve proficiency in both English and at least one other language, around the country. The BEST Act amendment was offered by Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), the author and lead sponsor of the BEST Act, and the House’s approval of her amendment came on the same day that Kentucky became the 45th state to establish a Seal of Biliteracy program.

The Senate is expected to begin work in earnest on its version of NDAA in the next few weeks. The final version of NDAA, approved by both House and the Senate, would need to include the BEST Act for its authorization to become law. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) is the lead sponsor of the BEST Act in the Senate.

JNCL-NCLIS President Amanda Seewald celebrated the House’s approval of the BEST Act authorization, saying, “Today’s House action is an incredible step toward a more equitable and positive focus on language learning in this country. The BEST Act will empower our schools with the means to provide opportunities for all students to be recognized for their multilingualism. This asset-based approach to multilingualism is the key to our ability to compete in a global economy and is vital to our national security. JNCL-NCLIS thanks Rep. Brownley for her leadership and we are grateful for the support of her fellow House members for voting in favor of this important legislation. We look forward to the Senate ratifying the House approved version of the NDAA.”



Established in 1972, the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) and the National Council for Languages and International Studies (NCLIS) unites a national network of leading organizations and businesses comprised of over 300,000 language professionals to advocate for equitable language learning opportunities. Our mission is to ensure that Americans have the opportunity to learn English and at least one other language.


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