Eagle Forum
Eagle Forum Capitol Alert
October 16, 2001

House of Representatives Votes Against English Language 
Fails to Overturn Clinton's Executive Order 13166

On Thursday, October 11, the House of Representatives rejected Rep. Ernest Istook's (R-OK) amendment to delay enforcement of Executive Order 13166, which declared that government-funded operations must be provided in languages other than English. In a vote of 156 to 262 (Roll Call Vote #380), 63 Republicans joined 198 Democrats and one Independent to kill an amendment that would have protected English as the language of the U.S.

Former President Clinton's Executive Order 13166 requires state and local government agencies and other recipients of federal funds, such as doctors who treat Medicare or Medicaid patients, to provide translation services on demand in any person's language of choice. Every recipient of federal funds must be prepared to pay for translation services, oral and written, in all 6,800 languages spoken around the world.

Friends and relatives are not permitted to help translate. Professionals must be hired, and the service must be provided for free for anyone who asks. Hospitals and universities are already facing harassment by federal agencies. The University of Utah medical center spent over $400,000 last year for translation services and publishes health brochures in 24 languages. Yet, it remains under investigation by the Department of Health and Human Services.

On April 24, the Supreme Court ruled in Alexander v. Sandoval that our civil rights laws do not require the government to use languages other than English. Clinton's Executive Order was based on the false argument that providing services only in English discriminates on the basis on "national origin." Despite the Supreme Court's rejection of that argument in the Sandoval case, the Bush administration has stated that the President has no plans to repeal this executive order.


  • If your Member voted for the Istook Language Amendment, send a thank-you note for his or her support.

  • If your Member voted against the Istook Amendment, call his office to ask why he voted against English as the language for government-funded activities.

  • Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121

    House Roll Call Vote 380 
    Members voting against the Istook Amendment:

    All Democrats, except for Ralph Hall, Harman, Ken Lucas, McIntyre, Shows, Adam Smith, Gene Taylor.

    Republicans: Ballenger, Barton, Bass, Boehlert, Boehner, Bonilla, Bono, Callahan, Calvert, Castle, Cox, Tom Davis, Diaz-Balart, Dreier, Ehlers, Foley, Gekas, Gilchrest, Gilman, Goss, Granger, Mark Green, Greenwood, Hobson, Houghton, Tim Johnson, Kelly, Kirk, Knollenberg, Kolbe, LaTourette, Jerry Lewis, McInnis, McKeon, Morella, Nussle, Ose, Oxley, John Peterson, Petri, Portman, Deborah Pryce, Quinn, Regula, Harold Rogers, Ros-Lehtinen, Paul Ryan, Saxton, Shaw, Sherwood, Simmons, Simpson, Chris Smith, Sweeney, Thomas, Thune, Tiahrt, Tiberi, Walsh, Wilson, Wolf, Don Young, Bill Young

    Independent: Sanders

    Members who did not vote: Blunt, Engel, Ferguson, Fossella, Gillmor, Hastert, Kingston, McHugh, Meeks, Dan Miller, Nadler, Towns, Velazquez.

    E-mail addresses may be found here.

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