Tom Graves leads revolt against Library of Congress effort to drop ‘illegal immigrant’

Rep. Tom Graves speaks in Dalton in 2011 (AJC file/Hyosub Shin)

Rep. Tom Graves speaks in Dalton in 2011 (AJC file/Hyosub Shin)

Back in 2014, U.S. Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, was named chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees congressional spending. In Washington parlance, which is built around the federal budget, Graves had become a “junior cardinal.”

It’s not a high-profile position. In fact, last week may have been the first time the job resulted in any ink – or pixels – spilled in Graves’ name. From the Associated Press:



Congress may not be able to reform the immigration system, fix the broken tax code or even pass a budget. But it’s telling the Library of Congress how to label immigrants living in the country illegally.

That’s how conservative Republicans are responding to a move by the library to drop the term “illegal alien” in favor of “noncitizens” or “unauthorized immigration” for cataloging and search purposes. The move came in response to a petition from the American Library Association to change immigration-related search terms to make them less judgmental.

The library’s move, announced in a three-page statement last month, was met with outrage from conservatives, who asked that a provision to block it be added to legislation that funds the legislative branch and its agencies, which include the Library of Congress.

“This needless policy change by the Library of Congress embodies so much of what taxpayers find enraging about Washington,” said Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., in a statement introducing similar legislation. “By trading common-sense language for sanitized political-speak, they are caving to the whims of left-wing special interests and attempting to mask the grave threat that illegal immigration poses to our economy, our national security, and our sovereignty.”

The library makes cataloging changes 3,000-4,000 times a year, says Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the top Democrat on the legislative funding panel. She says the move inserts a “poison pill” into a normally nonpartisan annual funding bill.

“The Library is in the business of language and nomenclature and should be free to make these decisions outside of the political spectrum,” said Wasserman Schultz. She likened it to dropping archaic words like “negro” and “oriental.”

From Roll Call, the newspaper:

Chairman Tom Graves, R-Georgia, said the subcommittee was merely requiring the library to use words consistent with U.S. Code, which includes the terminology to describe immigrants in the country without proper authorization.

Graves suggested that if lawmakers had an issue with the term, they should make attempts to change the code’s language. The amendment, he stressed, was “just asking the library to maintain that consistency.”

“I am pleased with the language we came up with,” Graves said.


For certain Insiders, and maybe a few readers, this is more disturbing than finding that unsolicited AARP membership card in the mailbox. From Pew Research Center:

Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to population estimates released this month by the U.S. Census Bureau. Millennials, whom we define as those ages 18-34 in 2015, now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). And Generation X (ages 35-50 in 2015) is projected to pass the Boomers in population by 2028.


Just call her Madam Vice President. Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, one of Bernie Sanders’ top surrogates, had a surprising answer when asked Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” who he’d pick as a running mate for the Vermont senator:

Said Jealous:

Ben Jealous and Stacey Abrams on MSNBC in 2014

Ben Jealous and Stacey Abrams on MSNBC in 2014

“We’ve got to unite our party. Stacey Abrams, the first woman to lead a party in Georgia’s House or Senate – she’s the minority leader of the Georgia assembly – she’ll be a rock star. Just mark my words, in two or four years…Right now she’s a rock star in Georgia, a state we need to take back and quite frankly, we don’t talk enough about the rising women rock stars in politics in our country. When you get that list, Stacey Abrams should absolutely be on that list.”

Now for the awkward part: Left unsaid is that Abrams is a hard-core Hillary Clinton supporter and one of her earliest backers in Georgia.


Over in the 11th District, one of U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk’s primary opponents has alleged the Cassville Republican is using his position on Capitol Hill to hit back against campaign attacks.

The campaign of Billy Davis, a businessman and one of four Republicans challenging Loudermilk next month, highlighted a recent letter the freshman lawmaker’s office sent to constituents about abortion-related legislative action. Seth Weathers, a spokesperson for Davis, said that the letter specifically responds to recent critiques made on the campaign trail — and Weathers said that’s not the first time it’s happened.

“Voters are learning that two-faced Barry voted to fund Planned Parenthood after promising he would oppose it. Now he is using taxpayer dollars to attempt to put a spin on his vote supporting Planned Parenthood,” said Weathers, referring to Loudermilk’s vote in support of a government spending bill in December that did not eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. (Loudermilk elaborated on why he supported the government spending bill here.)

A spokeswoman for Loudermilk’s congressional office stressed the letter is not campaign related. She said it is the most recent in a regular series in which Loudermilk highlights for constituents his work on various issues before the Congress, and that constituents opt-in to receive the mail.

“We’re just making sure that we’re keeping constituents in the loop on the work Representative Loudermilk is doing in Washington,” said Shawna Mercer, the congressman’s communications director.

On the topic of abortion, Mercer said the issue is of major interest, and that his office has received more than 1,400 emails and letters on the topic since last June.


U.S. Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta, has received kudos from the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations for co-sponsoring a congressional resolution that denounces hate crimes targeted at Muslims and highlights the positive contributions American Muslims have made to the country.

“We thank Congressman Scott for joining the effort to condemn anti-Muslim hate speech, which undermines our nation’s commitment to tolerance, diversity and pluralism,” said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of the Muslim civil liberties group’s Georgia chapter. Mitchell was part of a coalition that met with Scott’s staff last week as part of National Muslim Advocacy Day.

The resolution, which has the backing of 136 House Democrats, is also co-sponsored by fellow Georgia Democrats John Lewis of Atlanta and Hank Johnson of Lithonia. It has yet to see action in the chamber.

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