The Washington Times - March 14, 2013, 04:49PM

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday proposed adding an American Latino Museum to the National Mall, saying it’s time to recognize the growing public role and power of the Hispanic population in the U.S.

The bill would designate the Smithsonian’s Arts and Industries Building as the site of the new museum.

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The museum would have to be built through private funds.

“Through the years, our numbers have grown as well as our significance to the story of America,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat who is chief sponsor of the legislation. “A Museum of the American Latino would officially acknowledge our great history in the United States, and educate visitors about how the success of this country could not have been accomplished without the achievements of Hispanic Americans.”

He was joined in sponsoring the bill by Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, Rep. Xavier Becerra, California Democrat, and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Florida Republican.

“This will be an enduring monument as much to the people who have found opportunity and refuge in America as it is a tribute to our exceptional country that has always welcomed people and helped them realize their dreams like no other place in human history,” Mr. Rubio said.

A National Museum of African American History and Culture is already being built on the National Mall and the National Museum of the American Indian has been added to the Mall within the past decade as well.