Congress passes bill to remove 'Eskimo' and 'Aleut' from two laws

President Barack Obama joins a Yup'ik dance at the Dillingham Middle School in Dillingham, Alaska, on September 2, 2015. Yup'ik and similar terms are preferred by Alaska Natives over "Eskimo." Photo by Pete Souza / White House

A bill to remove the terms "Eskimo" and "Aleut" from two federal laws has been sent to President Barack Obama for his signature.

H.R.4238 applies to two laws -- both originally enacted in the 1970s -- that use the terms, which are considered outdated. The Department of Energy Organization Act will use the general description "Alaska Native" and the Local Public Works Capital Development and Investment Act will use "Alaska Natives" if the bill becomes law.

Both laws also use outdated and offensive terms for African Americans and Asian Americans. They will be changed if Obama signs the measure.

“The word ‘Oriental’ is a derogatory and antiquated term and the passage of this legislation will soon force the United States government to finally stop using it,” Rep. Grace Meng (D-New York), the sponsor of the bill, said in a press release.

The House passed the bill in February by a vote of 376 to 0. It cleared the Senate on Monday by unanimous consent.

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