For primera vez en la historia del Congreso norteamericano, uno de sus comites ha publicado el informe de una audiencia oficial en dos idiomas - ingeles y espanol.
If you can read that, you're way ahead of the big news of the morning: For the first time, a congressional committee has published a bilingual edition of an official hearing.
The 215-page hearing record, in Spanish and English was released yesterday by the House Select Commitee on Aging, which heralded the occasion with a bilingual press release.
They eyebrows of a cynic - make that a "dudoso," in Spanish - might flicker a bit over the details, but it still ranks right up there as a congressional first.
The one-day hearing was held last March in Miami. The chairman of the committee, Rep. Claude Pepper (D-Fla.), is from Miami. About 40 percent of his constituents speak Spanish. He is running for reelection against a native of Cuba.
That aside, Pepper said his committee decided on the bilingual publication to assure the widest possible circulation and understanding of the record among Spanish-speaking people.
"It demonstrates the concern of our committee about the special interests, problems and needs of minorities in this country," Pepper said.
Si, Si, Sr. Director.
At the hearing, Pepper said, as he has said frequently, that being old in America is often a strike against a person; being old and unable to speak English is two strikes.
The purpose of the Miami hearing was to gather information about special problems faced by the Spanish-speaking elderly.
According to Josef Reimer, a committee assistant, about half of the testimony was presented in English, half in Spanish. A translator gave a running account during the hearing.
Remier said the complete translation of the proceedings into Spanish was done by linguists at the Library of Congress. They and officials of the Government Printing Office certified that the publication was a "first."
"It wasn't done to make the hearing record twice as fat," Reimer said. "Chairman Pepper wanted people to understand what had been said that day.It doesn't do any good to print these things and let them gather dust on shelves."
Pepper, by the way, delivered part of his opening statement in Spanish. The other committee member present that day, Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D.-Ohio), spoke in English, but noted that she had grown up with Cubans, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. Not bad, not bad.