Following similar legislation that was proposed in the House of Representatives last week, Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) introduced a measure on March 30 that would establish English as the official language of the United States and mandate that all government correspondence is printed in English.
The “English Language Unity Act,” which is co-sponsored by Sen. Kevin Cramer (R -N.D.), would also adjust guidelines for naturalization by establishing a universal English language-testing standard and requiring that all naturalization ceremonies be conducted in English.
In May 2022, as Vance’s office pointed out, a Rasmussen poll determined that 78 percent of American adults believe that English should be the country’s official language.
English is already the official language in 31 states and all U.S. territories.
“This commonsense legislation recognizes an inherent truth: English is the language of this country,” Vance said. “That is why the overwhelming majority of the American people support this proposal.”
“The English language has been a cornerstone of American culture for over 250 years,” Vance added. “It is far past time for Congress to codify its place into law, which is exactly what this bill does.”
On March 24, Rep. Bob Good (R-Va.) introduced the English Language Unity Act of 2023.
If passed and signed into law, the legislation would “declare English as the official language of the United States,” require all functions and proceedings of the U.S. government to be conducted in English, and incorporate “uniform testing of English language ability” as part of the naturalization process for legal immigrants.
Government officials would also be obligated to “preserve and enhance” the status of English as the official language, including promoting opportunities for individuals to learn it, according to the bill’s language.
“In the melting pot of the United States of America, our common English language promotes unity and fosters cultural integration,” Good said in a statement.
Over the years, efforts to establish English as the official national language have arisen and have been met with resistance from critics who believe the move is unnecessary and even discriminatory.
Some proposed legislation in recent years has pushed to increase the government’s role in ensuring access to multilingual services.
The Mental Health Workforce and Language Access Act, which was introduced by Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) in 2021, sought to provide federal grants to community health centers to recruit and hire mental health professionals fluent in languages other than English.
Good’s bill acknowledges the benefits of America’s “rich diversity,” but it also notes that the English language has been the “common thread binding individuals of differing backgrounds” throughout history.
“It is also in the best interests of our legal immigrants, as proficiency in English helps them assimilate into our culture, succeed in the workplace, and reach their greatest potential,” Good added.
In 2021, Cramer joined then-senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) in introducing the English Language Unity Act of 2021, a measure that was also designed to make English as the official language of the United States.
“An overwhelming majority of Americans support making English the official language of the United States,” Cramer said after the announcement in 2021. “Our bill recognizes this desire and provides clarity to those who wish to emigrate to our country.”
The bill was referred to a House Subcommittee on Immigration and Citizenship, but did not gain traction.