INTRODUCTION OF NATIONAL SECURITY LANGUAGE ACT
(Extensions of Remarks - December 09, 2003)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Page E2493]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




             INTRODUCTION OF NATIONAL SECURITY LANGUAGE ACT

                                 ______
                                 

                           HON. RUSH D. HOLT

                             of new jersey

                    in the house of representatives

                        Monday, December 8, 2003

  Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, we can no longer keep our nation safe if we do 
not commit ourselves to learning the languages and cultures of critical 
areas around the world. The security of our troops overseas and the 
American people here at home demand that we act quickly to eliminate 
the severe shortage of critical need language professionals in this 
country. Inaction on this issue is not only irresponsible; it's 
dangerous.
  That's why I rise today to introduce legislation, the National 
Security Language Act, which would significantly expand our investment 
in foreign language education on the primary, secondary, and post-
secondary level.
  Al Qaeda operates in over 75 countries, where hundreds of languages 
and dialects are spoken. However, 99 percent of American high school, 
college and university programs concentrate on a dozen (mostly 
European) languages. In fact, more college students currently study 
Ancient Greek (20,858) than Arabic (10,596), Korean (5,211), Persian 
(1,117), and Pashto (14) put together. We need to do more to make sure 
that America has the language professionals necessary to defend our 
national security. This cannot be done overnight. We are already years 
overdue.
  As reported by the 911 Joint Inquiry in July, our intelligence 
community is at 30 percent readiness in languages critical to national 
security. Despite this alarming statistic, we do not appear to be 
taking aggressive action to address this problem. When I asked a panel 
of intelligence experts at a recent Intelligence hearing what the 
federal government is doing to increase the pool of critical need 
language professionals, they answered with silence. Two years after the 
events of September 11, we are still failing to address one the most 
fundamental security problems facing this nation.
  Changing our recruiting methods alone will not solve the problem. To 
meet new security needs, we need to create a new domestic pool of 
foreign language experts and we can only do that by investing in the 
classroom.
  The National Security Language Act would expand federal investment in 
education in foreign languages of critical need, such as Arabic, 
Persian, Korean, Pashto, and Chinese. Specifically, my bill would 
provide loan forgiveness of up to $10,000 for university students who 
major in a critical need foreign language and then take a job either in 
the federal workforce or as a language teacher. It would provide new 
grants to American universities to establish intensive in-country 
language study programs and to develop programs that encourage students 
to pursue advanced science and technology studies in a foreign 
language.
  My bill would also establish grants for foreign language partnerships 
between local school districts and foreign language departments at 
institutions of higher education. And it would authorize a national 
study to identify heritage communities here in the United States with 
native speakers of critical foreign languages and make them targets of 
a federal marketing campaign encouraging students to pursue degrees in 
those languages.
  Just as the National Defense Education Act of 1958 created a 
generation of scientists, engineers, and Russian linguists to confront 
the enemy of that time, the National Security Language Act will give us 
a generation of Americans able to confront the new threats we face 
today.

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