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Legislative Update - November 2019

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

– Melody Beattie

WASHINGTON, DC – We at the Joint National Committee for Languages (JNCL) are wrapping up November 2019 feeling a profound sense of gratefulness and thanks for the partnership of our member organizations. For without the action and support of our partners, we would not have been able to realize all the new and exciting developments on Capitol Hill.

The America's Languages Caucus – Est. 2019

On November 12, the offices of Congressman David E. Price (D-NC-04) and Don Young (R-All Alaskans) announced the establishment of the Congressional Caucus on America’s Languages. This bicameral, bipartisan will set forth a national strategy to:

  • Raise awareness about the importance of world language learning and international education, particularly as it relates to our nation’s economic and national security;

  • Ensure adequate resources are directed towards the study of world language learning; and

  • Focus on improving access for students and educators who wish to participate in these fields of study, including world languages, Native American languages, and English for English learners.

The core of the Caucus’ mission comes from the five language policy recommendations outlined in the 2017 Congressionally-Commissioned Report on Language Learning: America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education for the 21st Century.

This inclusive and representative report makes clear that the United States needs significantly more bilingual and biliterate citizens to help ensure national security, promote economic and job growth, and develop the potential of every American student.

As of Monday, November 25th, the Caucus counts among its ranks the following members:

  • David E. Price, D-NC-04

  • Don Young , R-All Alaskans

  • Jimmy Panetta, D-CA-20

  • Gilbert R. Cisneros, Jr., D-CA-39

  • Ben Ray Luján, D-NM-03

  • Donald S. Beyer Jr., D-VA-08

  • Jim Cooper, D-TN-05

  • Peter DeFazio, D-OR-04

  • Ben McAdams, D-UT-04

Finally, the co-sponsors of the Caucus, Mr. Price and Mr. Young, have agreed to accept the proposal of JNCL-NCLIS to maintain the Caucus website,


The ACTFL Assembly of Advocates in Washington, DC

On Thursday, November 21, JNCL-NCLIS assisted in the ACTFL Assembly of Advocates, with some 240 language advocates visiting Capitol Hill to exercise their First Amendment Right to “petition the Government for redress of grievances,” that is, to ask their elected representatives to take action on behalf of their constituents and the common good.

When it was first made known to JNCL-NCLIS that ACTFL would be held in Washington, DC, JNCL-NCLIS suggested to ACTFL that an advocacy event would be appropriate. As ACTFL planned for the 2019 Convention, JNCL-NCLIS worked with ACTFL and its contractors to develop and refine the legislative requests.

JNCL-NCLIS participated on site with Dr. Rivers providing two interventions, one in the morning training session and a second in the afternoon wrap-up. Dr. Rivers, Mr. Calvin, and Ms. Rutkowski were dispatched to accompany several new state delegations to help guide their Congressional meetings.

The three requests for all delegates were:

  1. For the Member of Congress to join the America's Languages Caucus;

  2. To support appropriations for Title VI/Fulbright-Hays;

  3. To support the reauthorization of Title VI/Fulbright-Hays (HR 2562 and S 342)

In addition, JNCL-NCLIS developed a targeted list of House Representatives to request support for the reauthorization of the Esther Martinez Native American Language Programs Act (H.R.912). As of Monday, November 25, 2019, four additional co-sponsors for the Esther Martinez Act signed on, as well as two additional Caucus members bringing the total up to 194! JNCL-NCLIS will continue to work with ACTFL on following up from this event from the feedback advocates provided.

During the ACTFL Convention, participant feedback of the advocacy day was uniformly positive.


Honored by NCSSFL

Also during the 2019 ACTFL Convention, NCSSFL recognized JNCL with an award in appreciation of our advocacy efforts over the past year:


Appropriations Stalemate on Capitol Hill

As of Monday, November 25, 2019, the appropriations process remains in limbo, with a Continuing Resolution in place until December 20th. However, an accord has been reached between the two parties to allow funding to move forward, with some exceptions related to the funding of the border wall. If this is the case, several programs of importance to the Language Community will receive increases, including the DLNSEO programs, Cultural Exchanges in the Department of State, and the NEH. Final negotiations for the Department of Education are underway. We expect that policy alerts will be forthcoming from JNCL-NCLIS in early to mid-December on these matters.

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