Senator Inouye says votes there to pass Akaka bill
The Honolulu Advertiser reports today. I have written my observations and opinions in a prior blog post. All I have to add is I find it dismaying if predictable that all 44 Democratic Senators are supporting this stupid legislation. The Dems obviously have no common sense any more. Will President Bush have the sense to veto it?
Outside the Beltway trackback
By Dennis Camire
Gannett News Service
WASHINGTON — A bill recognizing Native Hawaiians could come up for a Senate vote as soon as the week of July 18-22, and Hawai'i's two senators said yesterday they believe there are enough votes for it to pass.
"It's supposed to come up," U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye said. "We'll have a majority."
In addition to Inouye, key senators are predicting they'll have the votes to pass the legislation, with six Republican senators joining 44 Democrats in support.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, the bill's chief sponsor and namesake, said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist referred to a commitment he made last year to schedule a vote before Aug. 7 and said the only time left was in July.
"They were debating whether we should have the first week or the second week," Akaka said.
"The leader (Frist) even asked me and I said sooner rather than later in the month."
Akaka's bill picked up additional Republican support yesterday with Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., saying he will vote for it on the floor.
McCain, who had raised questions about the bill in the past, said he will vote for the bill primarily because it has the support of so many Hawai'i officials, including Republican Gov. Linda Lingle.
"Here in Washington, it's hard for us to go against the view of the governor, the Legislature — Republican and Democrat — the senators and the congressmen," said McCain, chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.
The legislation, originally introduced in 2000, calls for the federal government to recognize Native Hawaiians in the same way that it recognizes American Indians and Native Alaskans.
The measure would create a framework for Native Hawaiian governance, which would be able to negotiate with the United States and Hawai'i over disposition of Native Hawaiian assets.
Richard Rowland, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, said he was surprised by McCain's support of the Akaka bill.
"It certainly sounds like he's like many others that need a little education on the bill and what it says," Rowland said. "It would seem to me that as a senator, he should be concerned about the constitutionality (of the bill). Is it constitutional and is it good for the United States?"
Rowland added: "I think maybe we better see about getting him better educated."
The institute, Rowland said, does not know if the bill has enough votes for passage this summer but is not counting supporters and opponents. While he and other institute members are bothered by many aspects of the bill, it is not lobbying to defeat it, he said.
"Our main thrust here is education," he said. "We want to make sure this gets full disclosure. We don't think the opposing side has been aired, hardly at all."
For instance, when Hawai'i became a state, he said, there was a vote among residents. "Here, they're talking about starting a complete, separate sovereign entity without a vote of the people, any of the people."
Rowland said the institute "would be pleased with a delay in the vote until there was more time for discussing."
With McCain, the bill has six Republican votes. The other five — Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Gordon H. Smith of Oregon, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota — are co-sponsors of the bill.
With the backing of all 44 Democratic senators and the one independent — Sen. Jim Jeffords of Vermont — the bill would have at least 51 votes when it gets to the floor.