The week starting Sunday July 17, 2005 was the most intense period of activity on the Akaka bill since the bill was first introduced in summer 2000. Everyone expected a highly incendiary debate would take place on the Senate floor to be followed by a roll-call vote, with everything wrapping up perhaps Wednesday. A large delegation of activists and lobbyists from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, etc., many wearing "Hawaiian-style" clothing, went to Washington to pack the Senate visitor galleries and to lobby in the Senate office building. But The Akaka bill met one roadblock after another in the Senate, including new holds placed on the bill by at least 6 different Republican Senators, and threats by Akaka and Inouye to file a cloture petition. Also, on Tuesday July 19, a hearing on the Akaka bill's (un)constitutionality was held by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Judiciary, subcommittee on the Constitution. Senator Kyl took the very unusual step of a Senator submitting his own testimony to that House subcommittee. By the end of the week the Akaka bill was completely bogged down in secret negotiations among attorneys for Akaka, Inouye, the Department of Justice, and Republican opponents to the bill.
On Monday July 25, the Akaka bill still had not been brought to the floor and was not scheduled for any floor time. Senator Akaka appeared live for a ten minute segment on National Public Radio, followed immediately by a ten minute segment with opponent H. William Burgess. From Monday through Thursday there was no mention of the Akaka bill on the floor of the Senate. Finally, at the end of the day (evening actually) on Friday July 29, the last day for the Senate to be in session until September 6, Majority Leader Senator Frist filed a cloture petition for S.147 and announced that a vote on that petition will be the first order of business at 5:30 PM on September 6, 2005 when the Senate returns from its summer recess. The usual requirement for a quorum call prior to a cloture vote on September 6 was waived by unanimous consent. The filing of the cloture petition including Senator Frist's signature fulfills Senator Frist's commitment from 2004 to bring the bill to the floor of the Senate not later than August 7 of 2005. It is unclear whether Senator Frist feels his commitment would also include voting in favor of cloture, although his commitment clearly does not include voting for the bill itself.
Here is an outline of some of the major events to be covered in detail below (more than 100 pages of detail just for the one week of July 17-23, followed by an additional 30 pages for the week from July 24-29 including text of the Congressional Record related to the cloture petition and schedule for September 6):
Sunday, July 17: The stage is set for Senate floor debate starting Monday. Some amendments are expected to accommodate Department of Justice objections and concerns of some Republican Senators.
Monday, July 18: Wall Street Journal opinion column by John Fund expresses conservative concerns over the Akaka bill's unconstitutionality and social consequences. Newspaper reports a public opinion survey that polled every household in Hawai'i showing that 2/3 oppose the Akaka bill.
Monday night and Tuesday, July 19: Republican roadblocks prevent floor debate. At least one Republican Senator placed a hold on the bill despite a commitment last year from the Republican leadership to bring the bill to the floor. Main concerns are gambling, racial separatism, the need for a vote by the people of Hawai'i, and unconstitutionality. Racial registy continues effort to enroll members (only about 5% signed up after 19 months of massive advertising and outreach). Honolulu newspaper editorialize in favor of the bill (again and again over the years!). Hearing held Tuesday in House Judiciary Committee, subcommittee on the Constitution regarding the unconstitutionality of the Akaka bill, is covered in Wednesday's material which includes newspaper coverage of the House subcommittee meeting plus links to Senator Kyl's testimony to this House subcommittee, and a link to a webpage containing testimony by Aloha For All president H. William Burgess, Constitutional law expert Bruce Fein, and Hawai'i Attorney General Mark Bennett and links to listen to playback of the entire two-hour hearing.
Wednesday, July 20: Honolulu Advertiser reports bill will have floor debate before August recess. Group of ethnic Hawaiians gathers petition signatures (already 1,000) and holds rally at 'Iolani Palace opposing Akaka bill. Newspapers report on Tuesday meeting of the House Judiciary Committee, subcommittee on the Constitution (see description just above here); Intensive meetings between senior aides to Senators Akaka and Inouye, with Department of Justice officials and various Republican Senators.
Wednesday night, July 20 through Friday, July 22: Newspapers report Senate debate doubtful this week! Inouye/Akaka getting frustrated. Hawai'i Senators begin talking tough, about cloture motion. More reports about ethnic Hawaiian rally at 'Iolani Palace opposing the Akaka bill, and also demanding hearings be held in Hawai'i. "Hope dims for Akaka bill." More reports about possible cloture motion. Hawai'i Senators say they think Republicans are using "rolling holds" whereby another Senator places a hold on the bill whenever a previous hold is removed under pressure; Hawai'i Senators accuse Republican leadership of reneging on the deal last year to bring the Akaka bill to the floor for a debate and vote before the August recess. On Friday evening Senator Akaka threw out the first pitch in a Washington Nationals' baseball game against the Houston Astros, at a game featuring pregame hula entertainment and Hawaiian-style tailgate parties; Senator Akaka's shirt featured the Hawaiian flag alone -- a symbol regarded in Hawai'i as an endorsement of secessionist sentiment.
Saturday, July 23, 2005: Opposition to the Akaka bill in the House of Representatives began to grow, as members of the Republican Study Committee began gathering signatures on a letter to Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader DeLay asking them to kill the bill.
Monday, July 25, 2005: A Honolulu TV station quotes Senator Akaka saying he "is confident something would happen Monday." But in fact there was no mention of the Akaka bill on the Senate floor throughout all of Monday; and the schedule for Tuesday, announced at the end of Monday's session, also made no mention of the Akaka bill. Meanwhile, on Monday the National Public Radio network broadcast an hour-long live program entitled "Hawaiian Sovereignty, Entitlements & the Akaka bill" including a 10-minute segment with Senator Akaka himself arguing in favor of his bill, followed by Honolulu attorney H. William Burgess, head of Aloha For All, opposing the bill. The "Hawaii Nation" media release about this radio broadcast is provided, and includes a link to the audio file from the radio station.
Tuesday, 26, 2005: A defense authorization bill remained the focus of floor action in the Senate early in the day. However, a cloture petition was filed by 65 Senators -- not on the Akaka bill -- but on a piece of gun liability legislation! The cloture petition forced a period of up to 30 hours of immediate debate on the gun liability bill, to be ended with an immediate vote on the gun bill. The Akaka bill was never mentioned. At the end of the Senate session for Tuesday, when the agenda was announced for Wednesday, there was also no mention of the Akaka bill. However, the Honolulu newspapers continued to report that Senator Akaka intends to file a cloture motion on the Akaka bill and to get floor action before the end of the week.
Wednesday, 27, 2005: Hawai'i newspapers reported that an agreement has been reached among the Republican leadership and the Hawai'i delegation to file a cloture petition late in the week, perhaps to be voted upon on Saturday if the Senate extends its session; but that actual substantive debate is deferred until the Senate returns from its summer break after Labor Day. Meanwhile, throughout Wednesday the Senate spent the entire session debating the gun liability bill, except for brief interruptions to pass some non-controversial bills by unanimous consent on voice vote.
Friday, July 29, 2005: Ken Conklin reporting based on watching the Senate live on C-SPAN. During the final few minutes the Senate was in session before the August recess, Senator Frist officially announced the filing of a cloture petition on the Akaka bill, followed by a cloture petition on H.R.8, a bill to permanently abolish the "death tax." By unanimous consent, it was agreed that those two cloture petitions would be the first two items of business, in that order, when the Senate resumes on Tuesday, September 6, at 5:30 PM Washington time. By unanimous consent, those cloture petitions will be voted on without the usual preliminary quorum call. Thus, 60 votes will be needed to invoke cloture and overcome the holds on the bill, regardless of how many Senators are present. Senator Frist also stated that if cloture passes, there will be a period of uninterrupted debate until debate is finished (or the 30 hour time limit expires) and a vote is taken. Senator Akaka gave a six-minute speech about the bill. The Senate adjourned until September 6.
Relevant newspaper articles from Friday through Sunday are provided.
The full text of the Congressional Record including the filing of the cloture petition and Senator Akaka's short speech, are posted at the bottom of this webpage.
West Hawaii Today (Kona) Sunday, July 17, 2005
Spotlight shines on Akaka Bill
SENATE DEBATE SET MONDAY BUT 'IT'S BEEN A LONG ROAD'
by Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group
WASHINGTON -- When Congress was debating making Hawaii a state in 1959, lawmakers made few references to the islands' first inhabitants who, over the years, had lost control of their homeland to Westerners.
Rather, statehood advocates pointed to a Hawaii as a melting pot of other ethnic groups -- Asians, Filipinos and Caucasians whom they said deserved long-awaited admittance into the union.
Forty-six years later, the status of Native Hawaiians is expected to reach center stage on Capitol Hill when senators begin a debate Monday on legislation that would allow Hawaiians to seek formal recognition from the U.S. government.
"It's been a long road getting here," said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who crafted the bill.
The debate promises to be a lively one with advocates pleading that 400,000 Native Hawaiians be given the right to rule themselves as do American Indians and Native Alaskans.
Critics are ready to invoke the Constitution, which they argue strictly forbids Congress from creating a "race-based" government limiting membership to ethnic bloodlines.
A divisive issue
At home, Hawaiians themselves are divided.
On one side, some Hawaiians predict recognition would extinguish their campaign for outright independence from the United States -- a century-long battle begun in 1893 when U.S. Marines aided in overthrowing Queen Liliuokalani.
Others worry hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded Native Hawaiian programs could be abolished by the federal courts if Congress fails to act. Another group awaiting Hawaiian housing fear they will be knocked down the list under a broadly inclusive Hawaiian entity.
The House in September 2000 approved the measure by a voice vote, but Monday's debate will be the first in the Senate chamber. Votes are not expected until later in the week.
That a Senate debate is set to take place at all is considered a victory by sovereignty advocates. Hawaii's Democratic senators for five years have faced a silent but powerful opposition from Republicans to bring the bill to a vote.
A path cleared last October when Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, threatened to hold up park spending in Arizona -- the home state of Republican Sen. Jon Kyl, a leading critic of Hawaiian federal recognition. Kyl and Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., agreed to give the Hawaiian legislation floor time before Aug. 7.
What the bill would do
Akaka, a Native Hawaiian, first introduced a federal recognition bill in 2000 as a means to reconcile the U.S. government's part in overthrowing the Kingdom of Hawaii.
Hawaiians would be given the authority to organize into an independent governmental entity and seek federal recognition from the United States, similar to the status afforded to Native American tribes and Alaska Natives.
"There are only three indigenous populations before we were a country, and they are the Alaska Natives, the American Indian and the Native Hawaiians," said Gov. Linda Lingle, who has lobbied the Bush administration to support the effort. "It's simple fairness to give Hawaiians recognition."
The legislation, known commonly as the Akaka Bill, calls upon Congress to "reaffirm" Native Hawaiian sovereignty, wording carefully selected to show that the bill simply formalizes the relationship between the U.S. government and a people who lived collectively before Westerners arrived on the islands.
Under the bill, a Native Hawaiian is defined as someone who is a direct lineal descendant of the aboriginal or indigenous people who resided on the islands before Jan. 1, 1893. Descendants of Hawaiians eligible in 1921 for programs authorized by the Hawaiian Homes Commission Act also would be considered Native Hawaiians.
A nine-member commission composed of Native Hawaiians would certify members of the new nation. Upon election of a Native Hawaiian government, the Department of Interior would enter negotiations with the new entity for land, taxing authority and legal jurisdictions.
Hawaiian recognition prospects
The bill's fate remains up in the air. Kyl said last week he would not filibuster the bill, but he hinted others might. If the filibuster is deployed, recognition supporters must find 60 votes to win passage.
Hawaii senators say they have 51 senators committed to vote for the bill. Akaka said Thursday he believed another nine would join their side to reach 60, the number needed to break a filibuster.
Lingle and Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett plan to fly to Washington to meet Monday with roughly 10 Republican senators, some of whom remain undecided about the bill, Lingle said.
In addition to a possible filibuster, Senate leaders are expecting five amendments that could chip away at the authorities of a Hawaiian entity.
One Kyl amendment would mandate a statewide referendum before Hawaiians could be recognized by the state and federal government -- a vote that could show how divided Hawaii residents remain on the issue.
After consulting with Kyl last week, Akaka said the other amendments would address areas including: powers given to a Hawaiian entity, civil rights protections, jurisdiction of non-Hawaiians on Hawaiian lands, and Native Hawaiian land and trust claims.
Akaka said he had not seen the text of the measures.
"I believe we can reach some common ground on all of the issues identified," Akaka said. "Enacting legislation is a delicate process and we do expect obstacles. It's what makes the process so dynamic."
Many of the areas to be addressed by Kyl's amendments mirror concerns expressed last week by the Bush administration.
In a July 13 letter to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., U.S. Assistant Attorney General William Moschella expressed "serious policy concerns."
Moschella requested the bill be amended to limit monetary or property claims by Hawaiians. As written, Moschella said the bill "could invite a flood of litigation and could create the prospect of enormous unanticipated liability" for the government.
He recommended the legislation also be changed to preserve U.S. military activities; clarify whether the federal government, the state or the Hawaiian governing entity would have jurisdiction to enforce criminal laws on native lands; reiterate that the Hawaiian entity could not operate casinos; allow non-Native Hawaiians to sit on the commission that would give Native Hawaiians membership.
Lingle called the administration's proposals acceptable.
She touted the absence of an outright objection by the White House.
The U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 questioned whether Native Hawaiians could be legally recognized as a tribe, calling the issue "a matter of some dispute" and "of considerable moment and difficulty."
However, the justices stopped short of settling the point, limiting their ruling to a voting challenge of Native Hawaiian elections. In that case, the court decided all Hawaii residents -- not just those of native ancestry -- be allowed to vote for candidates running for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Citing that opinion, Moschella said there remains "a substantial, unresolved constitutional question whether Congress may treat the Native Hawaiians as it does Indian tribes."
At the heart of the issue is whether Native Hawaiians can be recognized under the Indian Commerce Clause, the provision in the Constitution that recognized Native Americans as sovereign nations.
During the 1959 statehood debate in the House, Rep. James Haley, D-Fla., questioned whether Congress would be creating "another situation similar to the situation we have created in regard to the American Indian."
"What is going to be the responsibility of the people of America and this Congress to those people?" Haley asked.
The response by committee chairman Wayne Aspinall, D-Colo., was blunt: "It is my opinion that we are not creating a similar condition to that which has brought about our Indian tribal communal ownership."
Critics assert a Hawaiian-only government would constitute a "race-based" entity and open the floodgates to other ethnic minorities looking to secede from the United States.
Further, they contend Hawaiians, unlike Indian tribes, were never an organized society and have failed to remain a self-sufficient community -- two standards that American Indian tribes must meet to qualify for tribal recognition.
"It would authorize the creation for the first time ever in our history of a race-based government entity with sovereign attributes within the U.S. and within the state of Hawaii," Kyl said. "It would set a very bad example for the direction of our country."
In forecasting his argument, Kyl said he would remind senators of America's national motto "E Pluribus Unum," which means "Out of many, one."
"We are a country of diverse people from well over 100 countries of this world," Kyl said. "Out of that mix, we've got a unique American character."
In a position statement sent this month to senators, Bennett argued Congress first recognized its responsibility to the Native Hawaiians in 1921 by setting aside ceded lands for them.
Almost 40 years later, Congress reaffirmed its commitment to Hawaiian Home Lands as a condition of statehood. And Congress has approved roughly 160 statutes pertaining to Native Hawaiians, advocates say.
"The Constitution gives Congress -- not the courts -- authority to acknowledge and extinguish claims based on aboriginal status," Bennett said. "Native Hawaiians lived in a self-governing community until Western conquest wrested that community and their sovereignty from them."
William Wilson, professor of Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, said both sides can argue the matter using legal doctrine.
Lawmakers can look back in history to find legal precedent for approving a Native Hawaiian governing entity, Wilson said. Previous Congresses have clumped Indian tribes together for convenience and recognized the Native Alaskans who are organized by villages.
Conversely, Wilson argues a Native Hawaiian government would equate to a race-based only entity, limiting its citizenship to ethnic bloodlines. "I think everybody is right," Wilson said. "The federal government has to make a decision."
"I'm sure it will be contested in court," he added.
Issue moves ahead
The Senate is poised to debate legislation allowing Native Hawaiians to seek federal recognition.
Hawaii senators plan to frame the issue as one of fairness to the Hawaiians, whose monarchy was overthrown by the U.S. government in 1893. They say Hawaiians should be given self-governing rights similar to American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Meanwhile, critics charge that the establishment of a Hawaiian entity would violate the Constitution by allowing a "race-based" government.
Senate to Vote on Hawaiian Self-Rule Bill
By RON STATON, Associated Press Writer Sun Jul 17
HONOLULU - After six years of trying, Sen. Daniel Akaka (news, bio, voting record) hopes to finally see a vote in the Senate this week on one of the hardest-fought measures of his congressional career — his bill to grant his fellow Native Hawaiians federal recognition.
"It will have a historical impact," said Akaka, D-Hawaii. "It affects Hawaii, the Pacific, the nation."
The measure is tentatively scheduled for debate Monday night and Tuesday, with a vote on Wednesday. Akaka and Hawaii's other Democratic senator, Daniel Inouye, say there are enough votes for approval.
It would grant Native Hawaiians the same rights of self-government enjoyed by American Indians and Native Alaskans, and would lead to U.S. recognition of a native governing entity.
The bill has the support of Hawaii's Democratic and Republican leaders of all races, including Gov. Linda Lingle and the state Legislature. Several thousand Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians signed an advertisement in support of the bill that appeared in last Sunday's Honolulu Advertiser.
Lingle says it also is supported by the majority of the people of Hawaii, but opponents dispute this, touting a recent automated and unscientific phone survey in which 67 percent of respondents said they opposed the bill. Both sides argue over whether the questions were loaded.
A group of mostly Native Hawaiians issued a declaration saying the bill "debases our sovereign heritage and our right to self-determination." It also said the bill "would attempt to label us with an identity as Native Americans that is not and will never be who we are as a people."
Kelikina Kekumano, who said she spends much of her time lobbying for Native Hawaiian rights, objects to the bill "because it makes us another Indian tribe."
The retired flight attendant is scheduled to testify Tuesday before a House Judiciary subcommittee considering an identical bill. The House last passed an earlier version of the bill in 2000, but it has never before made it to the Senate floor.
Also opposed to the bill is a group of mostly Caucasians who say it is race-based.
"It would destroy the basic reason I chose to make Hawaii my home 50 years ago — we don't have racial discrimination," said Honolulu attorney H. William Burgess, who has challenged the constitutionality of Hawaiians-only programs.
But supporters say the measure addresses the loss of the government, lands and even cultural identity that many Native Hawaiians feel as a result of the U.S.-backed 1893 overthrow of their monarchy.
Economic and social changes since then "have been devastating to the population and to the health and well-being of the Hawaiian people," according to a 1993 resolution in which Congress apologized to Hawaiians for the overthrow.
Studies have shown that Native Hawaiians, who make up roughly 17 percent of the islands' 1.2 million people, have the lowest health and social indicators among the state's varied ethnic groups.
"The United States has been a paternalistic nation, taking American Indians and Alaska natives under its wing," Akaka said. "Hawaiians also are indigenous people and are trying to gain parity with other indigenous people."
Approval of the bill will "help Hawaiians develop themselves and be productive and this will be beneficial to Hawaii and the nation," Akaka said.
The bill will need changes to meet
Department of Justice concerns that it might interfere with military operations or allow gambling operations such as those set up by Native Americans on the mainland.
Akaka said these concerns wouldn't delay the debate and vote.
Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal (on-line), Monday, July 18, 2005
JOHN FUND ON THE TRAIL
Congress considers setting up a race-based government for Native Hawaiians.
Some congressional staffers are calling it "the worst bill most voters have never heard of." Hyperbole aside, the Senate is preparing to take up legislation that would create an independent, race-based government for Native Hawaiians. If this bill becomes law an entrenched racial spoils system will hand benefits to as many as one-fifth of the state's population and could inspire mainland groups such as Hispanic separatists to seek similar spoils, should they ever gain enough political leverage.
This isn't how it was supposed to be in Hawaii. In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-2 to undo a previously established race-based system. Under that system non-Native Hawaiians were barred from voting for trustees overseeing the state's Office of Hawaiian Affairs. The ruling, which was joined by liberal Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer, found that a Hawaiian law requiring that the trustees be Native Hawaiians and elected only by other Native Hawaiians was obviously discriminatory. "There can be no such thing as either a creditor or a debtor race," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia. "In the eyes of government, we are just one race, it is American."
Rather than accept colorblind government, however, supporters of racial restrictions have tried for five years to negate the court's ruling by pushing a measure called the "Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act" or, for short, the "Akaka bill," after Hawaii's Sen. Daniel Akaka, a Democrat. The bill would skirt the Fifteenth Amendment's constitutional ban on race-based governments by requiring that Washington, D.C., recognize Native Hawaiians in the same manner it recognizes separate governments for American Indians and Alaska natives.
That comparison, however, quickly falls apart. It's true that the Founders (and the British before them) recognized Indian tribes to be separate, sovereign governments. They signed treaties with tribes and carved out territory for tribes to occupy--a system of separation that never led to equality. But in Hawaii, the history is demonstrably different. When the island chain became a state in 1959, there was a broad consensus in Congress that Native Hawaiians would not be treated as a separate racial group, and that they would not be transformed into an "Indian tribe." Indeed, Native Hawaiians have never asked to be recognized as an Indian tribe; they not only lack their own system of laws, but are widely geographically distributed throughout Hawaii and have a high rate of intermarriage with other groups.
Reversing this policy with what would amount to federal recognition of a "tribe" for Native Hawaiians today would create an independent state within a state that would lie outside the Constitution and laws of the United States as well as those of the state of Hawaii. The Akaka bill would also authorize the transfer of a portion of Hawaii's state-owned lands, natural resources and other assets to the new race-based government (at no cost to that new government, of course). Hawaiians would also be unable to fight back, as the state does not allow for referendums. And, just as on American Indian land, a shopkeeper who is part Hawaiian could claim exemption from state taxes and other laws, giving him an advantage over his next-door, non-Native Hawaiian competitor.
Not surprisingly, there is strong public skepticism in Hawaii about the establishment of what would amount to racial enclaves. "It's telling that there have been no public hearings organized by the state, the University of Hawaii, the state's congressional delegation or the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to determine if there actually is support for the Akaka Bill," says Malia Zimmerman, the editor of the news service HawaiiReporter.com. "There is a complete atmosphere of silence in the state government and mainstream media about this bill's weaknesses."
Even with debate smothered, a poll conducted by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii this month found that two out of three state residents oppose the Akaka bill, including 48% of Native Hawaiians. While some natives oppose the Akaka bill because they support complete independence, most native opponents see no need for a new layer of government ruling over them. Native Hawaiians have never experienced the kind of oppressive treatment American Indians have had to endure. The U.S. did overthrow Queen Lydia Liliuokalani in 1893, something Congress has since apologized for, but what followed in no way compares to the plight of many tribes in the continental United States, in part because Native-Hawaiians weren't pushed into reservations. Also, for the past 30 years, Native Hawaiians have been the beneficiary of many targeted housing, education and welfare benefits.
But guilt is a powerful political weapon, and Hawaii's major politicians have fallen completely into line as lobbyists for the Akaka bill. Among them is Republican Gov. Linda Lingle, who is said to have convinced herself that her party's ability to compete for Native Hawaiian votes is linked to support of the Akaka bill. She claims to have helped convince six Republican senators, including Norm Coleman of Minnesota and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to support the measure. If she is right, that means there will be a bare 51 vote majority for the Akaka bill when the full Senate votes on it next week. Since the House has previously passed similar versions of this bill, it is likely to approve this one as well. The Bush administration has remained neutral on the bill, although it suggested it be amended to better protect the interests of U.S. military bases and to limit casino gambling.
Some opponents of the Akaka bill argue that no great tragedy would result from its passage. They confidently predict that even if President Bush signed the measure into law its race-based provisions would again be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. But that is what many observers said would happen to the similarly dubious restrictions on political speech in the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill, which President Bush reluctantly signed. In a surprise, the Supreme Court then waved McCain-Feingold onto the statute books.
Creating a race-based government in Hawaii would create a dangerous precedent for groups in other states to also seek special status, whether they be African-Americans or Hispanics who believe that many of the Western states were illegitimately seized from Mexico and should be accorded a special status as an entity called Aztlan. The Akaka bill would carve out a path of racial balkanization that is fraught with constitutional peril and political mischief.
Hawaii Reporter, July 18, 2005 (Special from Hawaii Free Press)
Huge Poll Shows Strong Opposition to Akaka Bill
By Andrew Walden
An audacious polling effort, calling every single household in Hawaii, and gaining responses from 39,000 of the total 280,000 households, shows strong opposition to passage of the Akaka Bill S147/HR 309.
The poll was commissioned by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii. Polling was conducted by FEC Research between June 29 and July 10. When asked, “Do you want Congress to approve the Akaka Bill?” only 28.2 percent of registered voters answered “yes,” 56.8 percent said “no,” and 15.0 percent did not answer. Counting noes over only those who responded to the question, 66.8 percent oppose the passage of the Akaka Bill.
On July 15, after Grassroot released the complete results, Congressman Ed Case (D-HI) responded to news that the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution will debate the constitutionality of the Akaka Bill. In spite of the poll results, Case blamed opposition to the Akaka Bill on outside forces, telling The Honolulu Advertiser, “Either the external opposition prevailed upon that chair to at least hold the hearing, or the members of that committee on the majority side have some opposition to the bill. But thus far, there's no reason to conclude that." Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI), the Bill’s House sponsor, echoed Case and blamed “extremists” adding, “Given that most of Hawaii’s elected officials of various ideological stripes support it, those raising the question, it seems to me, are on the extreme margins -- rather obsessively I would think -- on this issue."
Grassroot’s poll results contain several surprises. The result from the 3,176 respondents identifying themselves as Native Hawaiians is that only 1,518 (48 percent) indicate support for Akaka, 1,375 (43 percent) indicate opposition and 283 (9 percent) did not respond to the automated polling question. These results are in stark contrast to a 2003 poll of 303 Native Hawaiians, which is often pointed to by Akaka supporters.
That 2003 poll, commissioned by the pro-Akaka, Office of Hawaiian Affairs (OHA), and conducted by Ward Research, asked the 303 Native Hawaiians a less specific question: “Do you think that Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct group, similar to the special recognition given to Native Americans and Alaska Natives?" According to OHA Trustees Chair, Haunani Apoliona, writing in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, April 3, 2005, 86 percent said “yes.” Apoliona says the OHA poll also showed, “Of the 301 non-Hawaiians polled, almost eight in 10 (78 percent) supported federal recognition, 16 percent opposed it, with 6 percent unsure.” Her “Another Perspective” editorial in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin came in response to a non-scientific March 2005 Honolulu Star Bulletin “Big Question” online survey, which asked, “Would you like to see the Akaka bill become law?" Seventy-five percent -- 1,301 voted "no" and only 436 voted "yes."
The Grassroot Institute’s President Dick Rowland immediately released to the media the full poll questions and raw polling results. In contrast, OHA has announced only parts of its polling result.
The full wording of the Grassroot poll question is, “The Akaka Bill question, now pending in Congress, would allow Native Hawaiians to create their own government not subject to all the same laws, regulations and taxes that apply to other citizens of Hawaii. Do you want Congress to approve the Akaka Bill?"
The full wording of the OHA poll question was, “The Akaka-Stevens bill proposes that Hawaiians be formally recognized as the indigenous people of Hawaii, giving them the same federal status as 560 Native American and Alaska Native tribes already recognized by the U.S. government. Do you think that Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct group, similar to the special recognition given to Native Americans and Alaska Natives?"
The Grassroot poll is the only one which directly asks, “Do you want Congress to approve the Akaka Bill?” The direct question OHA asks is more general: “Do you think that Hawaiians should be recognized by the U.S. as a distinct group, similar to the special recognition given to Native Americans and Alaska Natives?"
Other criticism of the Grassroot poll is focused on the poll question immediately preceding the Akaka question, “Do you support laws that provide preferences for people groups based on their race?” This, say poll critics, skews the results by associating Akaka with racial preferences in the mind of respondents.
But in spite of official denials that Akaka is a racial preference bill, the Grassroot poll results show that to many Akaka Bill supporters, racial preferences are a good thing. Of 2,933 Grassroot poll respondents who indicate they “support racial preferences” 1,748 indicated support for the Akaka Bill. At 60 percent, this is more than double the percentage of Akaka Bill support found in the general public. Of the 13,050 respondents who oppose “racial preferences”, support for the Akaka Bill is only 2,868 (22 percent) -- a lower level than in the population as a whole.
Akaka Bill support is also concentrated among those who favor tax increases. Of 3,954 who indicated support “for an Excise Tax increase of $450 per year,” 1617 (41 percent) also support the Akaka Bill -- almost half again more than the support in the population as a whole. Overall, 73.3 percent of registered voters oppose an Excise Tax increase.
Some 44.9 percent of Hawaii registered voters polled say they are less likely to support a pro-Akaka Bill candidate.
The poll comes in time to impact the Senate debate scheduled to begin Monday, July 18, 2005, on the Akaka Bill and the House Committee debate on the July 19th. The results bring into question the reasons for near-unanimous support for the Akaka Bill among Hawaii elected officials including Republican Gov. Lingle, Republican Lt. Governor Aiona and all of Hawaii’s four Democratic congressional representatives. Politicians are usually known to go where the votes are. Why are almost no Hawaii politicians staking out an anti-Akaka position? Why are Hawaii elected officials working so hard to push through an unpopular measure?
Andrew Walden is the publisher and editor of Hawaii Free Press, a Big Island-based newspaper. He can be reached via email at mailto:email@example.com
*** Spreadsheets showing the results of both the sample survey and the comprehensive survey, together with the actual questions asked; plus the results of surveys conducted in previous years regarding Hawaiian sovereignty; can be seen at:
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Monday, July 18, 2005, ** breaking news **
Republicans delay start of Senate debate on Akaka bill
The bill's namesake says Republicans will not adhere to terms agreed to last week
WASHINGTON >> A last-minute snag is expected to delay opening debate on the so-called Akaka Bill for native Hawaiian recognition.
"Am I surprised? Yes, slightly. Many things can happen," Sen. Daniel Akaka said today.
Senate debate on a proposal for the federal government to recognize native Hawaiians as a separate nation had been set to start this evening.
The Hawaii Democrat said it was delayed because the Republican majority refused to adhere to terms of the debate. "The Republicans have not agreed to the unanimous consent agreement that they had agreed to last week," Akaka said.
A principal opponent, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., had struck a deal with Akaka, but now, Akaka says, Kyl is having trouble getting other Republicans to go along.
"Kyl was going to work with his side to get agreement. He's pushing for it, but until that happens we won't know what the leaders are going to set up," Akaka said.
The unanimous consent agreement sets the terms for the debate, such as how long the bill will be debated and how many amendments will be permitted. If the bill is not debated or agreed to by the end of next week, it will have to wait until after the Senate's summer recess ending Sept. 5.
Akaka also said he is concerned about amendments suggested by the Bush administration, but that he can do little until specific language is offered. "Once we know the language of the amendments we can talk to the other side and try to come to some agreement instead of taking it to the floor" he said.
Gov. Linda Lingle, in town to lobby fellow Republicans to support the bill, said she has meetings scheduled with six to 10 GOP Senators.
"It is a little difficult to say because I don't understand this process here, nothing is ever set," Lingle said today. "So I can't comment on the likelihood they will take it up, but my overall feeling is optimistic because the White House has not taken a position against it."
The bill, SB 147, would start the process to recognize native Hawaiian sovereignty by forming a political entity to negotiate with the government. Opponents have escalated their calls for defeat, saying the measure would cause a "race-based" government that is for Hawaiians only.
"It would fashion a governing entity outside the Constitution and laws of the United States and the state of Hawaii, it would make native Hawaiian ancestry decisive in destiny," says Bruce Fein, a former U.S. Assistant Attorney General who has been working with Grassroots Hawaii, a Honolulu think tank, to oppose the legislation. "It would deny equal justice to non-native Hawaiians. And it would mock self-government by denying the citizens of Hawaii a plebiscite to determine whether the state should be fractured along racial lines."
Others, including Lingle and Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett, disagree.
"I think the vast majority of people, when they understand what the bill does, are in sympathy with it," said Bennett, who came to Washington yesterday to testify in support of the bill.
Hawaii state Sen. Colleen Hanabusa, chairwoman of the Judiciary and Hawaiian Affairs Committee, speculated that much of the bill's controversy stems from "fear of the unknown."
"Groups such as OHA have concentrated on educating the native Hawaiian population, so they have not been able to reach out to everyone else," Hanabusa said.
Hawaiian history is not that well known, even in Hawaii, said Hanabusa, who is urging a round of public hearings in Hawaii to explain the bill's impact.
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Senate delays Akaka bill debate
By Derrick DePledge
WASHINGTON — Hawai'i's top political leaders worked behind the scenes yesterday in a collective push to get a vote on a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill in the U.S. Senate.
Gov. Linda Lingle met with officials at the White House and started talking with Republican senators whose support is critical to the bill's passage. U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, and U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, pressed Republican leaders to bring the bill to the floor.
Debate was expected to begin yesterday but was delayed because Republicans had not agreed on potential amendments. Aides to Hawai'i lawmakers said debate could begin today.
Conservative Republicans have blocked the bill in the Senate since 2000, but Republican leaders have promised Akaka and Inouye a vote by August.
"The future of Hawai'i's people, and my grandchildren, are in this bill," Akaka said.
The bill would recognize Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people, similar to American Indians and Alaska Natives, and create a process for Hawaiians to form their own government.
State Attorney General Mark Bennett and staff for Hawai'i lawmakers are talking with the U.S. Department of Justice about changes to the bill that might be enough to get the administration's support. Among the stickiest issues, according to people familiar with the talks, is whether the bill should preclude or limit the statute of limitations on financial claims by Hawaiians against the U.S. government. The bill now contains a 20-year limit on claims, which the Justice Department believes is too long.
The potential changes likely would be added as the debate unfolds in the Senate.
But the fundamental objection by conservatives is that the bill would separate people based on race. U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and other opponents have questioned whether the bill is constitutional, a theme also being crystallized among Republicans in the U.S. House.
The House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution is holding a hearing on the bill today, which might reveal the extent of the opposition in the House.
"We'll have to explain that it's not race-based. It's based upon the Constitution. It's based upon history," Inouye said.
The jostling that delayed the bill yesterday was not unusual in the Senate, where rules and tradition give individual senators the power to put a hold on legislation. Senators also often try to attach unrelated items to bills moving toward a vote. Republicans apparently are considering several amendments, including an apology to American Indians.
Akaka, normally congenial, was so frustrated he considered holding up other legislation in retaliation. He said Republicans have made a commitment to bring the bill to the floor.
"We're still striving for that agreement," Akaka said.
As the Akaka bill gains more national exposure, powerful voices are getting involved.
In a coup for the bill's supporters, Viet Dinh, a former assistant attorney general at the Justice Department under President Bush, has written a paper arguing that Congress has both the moral and legal authority to enact the bill.
Dinh, an architect of the USA Patriot Act after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, wrote that the Constitution gives Congress the power to legislate regarding Indian tribes, and that power extends to Native Hawaiians.
"The answer to both questions is yes, especially given the moral and legal obligations the United States acquired for overthrowing the then-sovereign kingdom of Hawai'i in 1893," Dinh wrote.
The paper, prepared for the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs, will be given to House lawmakers at the subcommittee hearing today.
On the other side, Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, an influential conservative group, called the bill "seriously flawed" yesterday and urged his supporters to ask senators to oppose it.
"The notion that Congress should just create a Native Hawaiian 'tribe' in order to treat them 'the same' as American Indians and Alaska Natives is against our history," Perkins wrote in his Washington Update.
The coordinated effort by Lingle, the congressional delegation, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Mayor Mufi Hannemann has given Hawai'i a presence here this week, as both the Akaka bill and the future of Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard are in question.
Aides to Hawai'i lawmakers say Lingle's role could be pivotal on the Akaka bill, since Republicans control the White House and Congress. The governor hopes to meet with Republican senators today at their caucus, in addition to her talks with individual senators.
"I tell them that the Akaka bill is a simple matter of justice and fairness for the Native Hawaiian people, to allow them to begin a process that they can set up an entity to make certain that they have authority over their own lands and their own resources," Lingle said.
The Bush administration has not taken a stand on the bill and Lingle, in the past, has said that Hawai'i lawmakers had asked her to at least keep the administration neutral.
U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawai'i, said a signal from the White House would break Republican opposition. "A clear expression of support from the White House is the best of all worlds," he said.
CONGRESSIONAL SCHEDULE FOR THE AKAKA BILL
The Akaka bill is known formally as S 147, or the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005.
In the U.S. Senate: Debate may begin on the floor today, continuing intermittently.
In the U.S. House: The House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution will hold a hearing today at 2 p.m. EDT (8 a.m., Hawai'i time). The topic: "Can Congress Create a Race-Based Government? The Constitutionality of HR 309 and S 147, the 'Native Hawaiian Government Re-organization Act of 2005.' "
** This article reports a very significant new development -- a Republican Senator has placed a "hold" on the Akaka bill, thereby preventing it from coming to the floor. We can guess that this Senator was not a party to the deal made last year whereby the Republican leadership including Senator Kyl agreed to allow the bill to come to a vote by August 7 of 2005. **
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Tuesday, July 19, 2005
THE AKAKA BILL
11th-hour wrangling envelops Akaka Bill
A Republican senator delays debate as some proposed amendments threaten the bill
By Richard Borreca
WASHINGTON » The Senate's debate on the native Hawaiian sovereignty recognition bill is delayed, but some supporters are hoping to start the discussion tonight.
Hawaii's senior senator, Daniel Inouye, said yesterday another senator has put a "hold" on the bill, even though the Republican majority had agreed to move the bill by August.
Because of Senate rules, any senator can object to or hold a bill to stop it fr
om reaching the floor for debate.
Inouye said that he and the bill's principal sponsor, Sen. Daniel Akaka, had reached agreement with the GOP majority to move the bill for a floor vote.
To do that, the Senate GOP drew a plan for the bill, but now Inouye says there has been a last-minute hitch.
"They drew it up; they drafted it and said, 'What do you think?'"
"I said, 'If this is what you have, I buy it,'" Inouye explained.
That agreement, according to Inouye, calls for Republican Arizona Sen. John Kyl, who had been an opponent of the measure and previously placed his own hold on the Akaka Bill, to be the manager.
Kyl would submit five amendments, and there would be two days of voting with a final vote in the Senate on the third day.
"However, you cannot commit every member. There are some who say, 'Man, I wasn't around then.' There is one person with a hold on it. He wants an amendment on it," Inouye said.
Inouye declined to name the other senator, but he said he hoped that the Democrats would be able to persuade the GOP to move the bill this week.
"If we can clear this up this week, I don't care when we start. We can start Thursday, if you want, and come back Friday and Monday. It's OK with me. If they want to do it just at night, fine," Inouye said.
Once an agreement has been reached, Inouye said, "I'm convinced we've got the votes."
Still to be decided, however, are the five amendments, some of which Inouye said would make the Hawaiian recognition bill meaningless.
"It is almost like saying you will have a Hawaiian entity with absolutely nothing," Inouye said, adding that he thought the Senate would not agree to all five proposed amendments.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department listed its own concerns about the bill, saying gambling should be strictly prohibited by any native Hawaiian government, the time for native Hawaiians to bring claims against the state or federal government should be limited and the military should still be able to use native Hawaiian land.
Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle said she plans to spend much of today personally lobbying fellow Republicans.
"My No. 1 priority is to meet with people who will be voting on the Akaka Bill," Lingle said.
To that end, she hopes to be able to make a private pitch to the Senate's Republican caucus today.
Robert Klein, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs attorney and a former Hawaii Supreme Court justice, said he had not heard about a hold.
"I thought they had an agreement that the bill would come up before Aug. 7, and I thought we were past the time for people to put holds on it," Klein said.
Lingle's office did not return calls when asked to comment on the hold, and a spokeswoman for Akaka said they expected the bill to be debated tonight.
Earlier in the day, Lingle conceded that the fast-moving, behind-the-scenes action of Senate politics was at times baffling.
"This is quite a place. As I told state House Speaker (Calvin) Say before I left, 'I can barely figure you guys out. I certainly can't figure them out up here," Lingle said.
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Akaka bill's foes want Hawai'i voters to decide
Some opponents of the Akaka bill are calling for a statewide referendum or poll to gauge Hawai'i residents' reaction to the measure before Congress acts on it.
But supporters say Hawai'i voters may get a chance to express their views when the bill is implemented.
The issue of whether there should be a referendum has been raised by opponents, including Richard Rowland, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i, which has focused on tax increases and other conservative causes in the past.
Rowland yesterday likened the poll to the vote taken by Hawai'i residents approving statehood in 1959.
"We think democracy has stood on its head," he said about Gov. Linda Lingle and others going to Washington, D.C., to support the bill when it has not been put up to a vote by Hawai'i residents.
"We need to ask the people of Hawai'i what they think," he said.
But supporters say a referendum would postpone the vote by the Senate on a measure that's been pending before Congress for years.
The bill would provide Native Hawaiians the same recognition granted to American Indians and Alaska Natives, but does not automatically set up any referendum for Hawai'i voters on whether the measure itself is valid.
But U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, said he believes that Hawai'i voters may get a chance to weigh in on the legislation, if it turns out state constitutional amendments are needed when the bill becomes law. The amendments may be necessary as part of setting up a government entity that would allow Native Hawaiians to be treated the same as other Native American groups, his spokeswoman, Donalyn Dela Cruz, said yesterday.
The example Akaka has cited in the past is that a state constitutional amendment would be required if the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands were to become part of the governing body.
A state constitutional amendment would require the approval of state lawmakers to place the measure on the ballot. The amendment would be ratified only if it receives approval by more than 50 percent of all votes cast by Hawai'i residents.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Lingle and Case insist Akaka Bill allows no gambling
By Sally Apgar
The Akaka Bill has raised concerns about whether native Hawaiians will be able to host gambling if they gain federal recognition and subsequently form a self-governing body.
That government would still be subject to control by Congress under its "plenary powers."
U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, said yesterday, "Absolutely nothing authorizes gambling in the state of Hawaii."
Gov. Linda Lingle, who is in Washington, D.C., this week for debate on the Akaka Bill and the possible closure of the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, said: "We amended the bill already. The version before the Senate outlaws gambling. This does not allow legalized gambling in our state -- something I have opposed all my life in public office."
Lingle said, "We wouldn't object to any strong language as it relates to gambling."
Case noted that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not allow gaming activity by an American tribe if the state does not allow gaming. Currently, Hawaii, Utah and Tennessee are the only states without some form of gaming.
Additionally, Case said that even if the state of Hawaii had gaming, the federal gaming act currently only applies to Indian lands.
"And there are no Indian lands in Hawaii," said Case. "Ceded lands are not Indian lands. Under IGRA, Indian lands are owned and operated by federally recognized Indian tribes."
Under the current wording of the Akaka Bill, called the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act of 2005, "nothing shall be construed to authorize the native Hawaiian governing entity to conduct gaming activities under the authority of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act."
Last week, the Department of Justice took issue with several aspects of the Akaka Bill, including gambling. The issues were raised in a letter from Assistant Attorney General William Moschella to U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
The letter said "the legislation should clearly provide that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act will not apply to the native Hawaiian governing entity, and that the governing entity will not have gaming rights."
Case said, "This is a red-herring issue thrown out to cause concern where there is none. This argument has three nails in its coffin, and if one more is needed, I'm happy to hammer it home."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Sign-up drives parallel Akaka Bill
By Sally Apgar
Without hesitation, Cousin Kala Koanui said he registered his name with Kau Inoa, a group seeking to enroll native Hawaiians to vote for or against any new form of self-government.
"I'm for anything that will put Hawaiians on the map," said Koanui, 49, as he sat on his bicycle outside Shima's Market in Waimanalo on Saturday morning. "I signed because I want a vote (in deciding a new form of self-government). I believe to get a nation, we must sign up. And we have to get together under one model (of government) instead of all different kinds."
Koanui is one of the 21,000 native Hawaiians who, since June 31, have joined the rolls of Kau Inoa ("place your name"), which started taking names on Jan. 17, 2004, on the 111th anniversary of the 1893 overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii. Forms must be completed and returned with documentation showing Hawaiian ancestry (Web site: www. oha.org/cat.asp?catid=79).
Kau Inoa proponents say they are a homegrown group of native Hawaiians trying to identify and sign up other native Hawaiians in Hawaii and on the mainland who choose to participate in future decisions regarding self-governance. They stress they are not part of the enrollment of Hawaiians called for in the Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act of 2005, commonly known as the Akaka Bill after its chief sponsor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka.
The Akaka Bill, due for debate on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week, sets up a process for the U.S. government to recognize and relate to a native Hawaiian self-governing entity that is to be formed by the vote of native Hawaiians but will be subject to the "plenary," or absolute, powers of Congress.
Some native Hawaiian groups say the likely process will be for those on the registration roll to vote for delegates to a convention that will draw up models of a new government that will then be voted on by those on the registration roll.
Kau Inoa wants to be the one to create the native Hawaiian roll, rather than the nine-member commission designated under the Akaka Bill.
"Kau Inoa's process takes the register away from the federal government and gives control to Hawaiians. That's the beauty of Kau Inoa's registration. It's Hawaiians taking it away from the federal government," said Charlie Rose, a longtime Hawaiian activist who has been involved in the Kau Inoa registration campaign.
"We want everyone in the kitchen. We need everyone to help cook and put the stew together," said Rose. "We want everyone to sign up and participate."
Rose said he supports the Akaka Bill overall but objects to the bill's designation of a commission to oversee the preparation of what the bill calls "a roll of the adult members of the native Hawaiian community who elect to participate in the reorganization of the native Hawaiian governing entity."
Rose said, "Once the Akaka Bill passes, the secretary of the interior will appoint some political group to conduct the registration. As a Hawaiian, I don't want the U.S. government telling us who is native Hawaiian and how to form our government."
Rose and other Kau Inoa supporters said they hope to sign up enough native Hawaiians for Congress to find their process credible and use it rather than the one defined in the Akaka Bill.
The Akaka Bill's current definition of native Hawaiian is narrower than that of Kau Inoa. It defines native Hawaiian as anyone over 18 years old who is either "a direct lineal descendent of native Hawaiians who lived in Hawaii on Jan. 1, 1893," the year of the overthrow, or someone who was eligible or is a direct lineal descendent of someone who qualified for Hawaiian homelands in 1921.
Clyde Namu'o, administrator for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which hosts the Kau Inoa registration on its Web site, said: "The criteria under Kau Inoa is different from the Akaka Bill. Under Kau Inoa you can sign up as long as you are able to verify you're Hawaiian. It's also not limited to adults over the age of 18."
Kau Inoa grew out of a call in July 2003 from five Hawaiian community leaders -- Winona Rubin of Alu Like Inc.; Nainoa Thompson of Kamehameha Schools; Pualani Kanahele, a kumu hula and professor of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawaii at Hilo; Dr. Emmett Aluli, an activist and Molokai physician; and Kaleo Patterson, a pastor and activist -- who held meetings about how to register native Hawaiians to vote for a new government. The group, which now calls itself the Native Hawaiian Coalition, designed the enrollment form and continues to meet to work out a process for creating the new government.
According to the most recent census, 400,000 people nationwide identify themselves as native Hawaiian. It is unclear how many of those people would qualify for either registration.
Critics of the registration drive say that 21,000 names in 19 months of mass mailings and a few months of television ads is a poor turnout, indicating there is little support among native Hawaiians for self-government.
OHA's Namu'o defended the effort, saying Kau Inoa is signing up people at a rate faster than the state signs up new voters.
Namu'o said: "It's challenging. We're not just signing up people here, but across the country. We only started TV ads in Hawaii over the last few months. Before that it was mostly word of mouth."
OHA is advocating enrollment and has financed some of the campaign's mass mailings and advertising. OHA has conducted six mass mailings directed to 75,000 people. Printing costs for those mailings amounted to $40,000, and postage was another $12,000. Other groups, such as Alu Like, have also done mass mailings at their own expense.
Namu'o and others acknowledge that some native Hawaiians are slow to sign up because there is confusion over the intent of the registration, and some are suspicious because OHA is pushing for the sign-up.
Namu'o said some are wary because they think the registration is part of the Akaka Bill and that signing up is supporting it.
Namu'o said: "Some people are suspicious because OHA is a state agency, so there's fear that if they sign up and OHA retains all that private information, the state will get it. No, it won't. But to ensure that, Hawaii Maoli was set up as an extra level of protection."
Hawaii Maoli, a nonprofit organization whose parent is the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, was formed to retain the forms, information and a computer database. Under its nonprofit status, Hawaii Maoli cannot lobby for the Akaka Bill, but its parent can. Hawaii Maoli is intended to hand over the enrollment information to the new governing entity.
Rose, acting director of Hawaii Maoli, said the group receives the application forms, provides verification assistance and "maintains the (computer) database in a safe and secure environment."
The next step will be for Hawaii Maoli to put registrants' names -- without private information such as address or birth date -- on a Web site.
"Hawaiians are always suspicious," said Toni Lee, president of the Association of Hawaiian Civic Clubs, which is lobbying for the Akaka Bill. "How many times do we have to sign up for things?"
Lee said: "My generation is like the silent majority, asking, Should I or shouldn't I sign up? People should sign up. When it comes time to decide anything, if your name is not on the registry, you will not be given a ballot, and you will not have any say."
Lee added, "Signing up is not making a decision. It is just making yourself available to make a decision later."
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, July 19, 2005, EDITORIAL
Political recognition for Hawaiians is crucial
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, better known as the Akaka bill, is a flawed but nonetheless important instrument focused on a vital issue for Hawaiians and, indeed, for all of Hawai'i.
Effectively, it seeks to shift federal awareness of Hawaiians from that of a racial or ethnic group to that of a political entity.
Political recognition of Hawaiians is believed to be a shield against lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of race-based programs.
These programs range from various health, education and economic development programs to the Hawaiian Homes program, itself a federal creation. It is not beyond argument that even Kamehameha Schools and the other ali'i trusts might be under attack if not for some legal protection as envisioned by the Akaka bill.
MANY FEARS, QUESTIONS
Still, there are many fears and questions surrounding the measure that need to be dealt with first, in Congress, and then later if the measure becomes law, in negotiations among a Hawaiian political entity, the state and the federal government.
Perhaps the primary issue is the matter of ceded lands, those 1.8 million acres of former crown and government lands that were ceded to the control of the U.S. government upon annexation and then back to Hawai'i upon statehood.
Those lands never belonged to Hawaiians, per se, as a racial group or as a political entity. They belonged to the royal family, Hawaiian to be sure, and to a multiethnic government.
It should be pointed out that some of these lands have already been set aside for Hawaiians through the Hawaiian Homes program. And some revenue from commercialized ceded lands is diverted today to the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
Still, it is critical that the question of ownership, disposition and use of these lands be settled with finality. The fact that there is a legal cloud over the use of these lands — many of which lie underneath important government functions such as harbors, airports, hospitals and public housing — creates great economic uncertainty in the state.
It is entirely possible that a portion of the revenue generated by these lands will continue to be set aside to support and enhance Hawaiian programs.
But the Akaka bill cannot be used as a mechanism to begin anew a debate over who "owns" ceded lands. They belong to the state of Hawai'i and all its citizens, including Hawaiians.
A second layer of ambiguity in the Akaka bill is the question of what general state laws, ranging from criminal laws to taxation, should apply to this new entity.
ALL LAWS CONTINUE
Our position, and we suspect the position of most Hawaiians, is that all laws should continue to apply. Over the years, polls have suggested that most Hawaiians would like to see a greater level of self-determination and recognition of the wrongs they have suffered since the overthrow of the monarchy more than a century ago.
At the same time, those same polls suggest most Hawaiians wish to continue to enjoy the benefits, and assume the obligations, of full citizenship in both the state of Hawai'i and the United States.
Recognizing Hawaiians as a political entity with the self-determining power to help themselves is in no way contradictory with those larger obligations of citizenship.
A third issue, and one easily resolved, is the issue of gambling. Many fear that the emergence of a Hawaiian "nation" would inevitably lead to gambling in the Islands.
This need not be so. Simply reword the Akaka bill to state specifically that the Hawaiian nation is forbidden to offer, develop or seek gambling unless and until the state in general decides to do so.
Uncertainty over these and other issues should not be a death blow for this important piece of legislation. Indeed, it is designed to be somewhat ambiguous since the details are to be worked out by the parties involved.
And it is critical to recognize that nothing happens unless it wins approval from both the state Legislature and the Congress. We are all involved.
Some say a referendum on these matters should take place before the Akaka bill becomes law. That would be pointless because no one would have a clear idea of what the referendum was on, or what it would mean.
Some form of informal referendum later, after negotiations have been completed, might make sense, but one could argue that an indirect referendum already exists through our elected representatives who will have to deal with these matters.
Any constitutional changes would require a direct vote by all eligible citizens, so that would be a referendum.
NO ADDED CONFUSION
Finally, killing this measure on the basis of ambiguity would only compound confusion and lead to greater disillusionment and even hostility. The Akaka bill at least sketches out the arena in which Hawaiians can meet with state and federal officials to discuss these issues.
As those talks move forward, there should be an "exit strategy" for federal entitlements built into the process. Hawaiians deserve to be fully accountable for the success or failure of the programs.
As a practical matter, the seeds of a robust Hawaiian "nation" exist today: Consider OHA (with its elected board and millions of dollars in assets), the ali'i trusts (particularly Kamehameha Schools with its vast endowment and huge tracts of lands), the Hawaiian Home Lands programs and many other programs and institutions.
Add to that a vibrant culture, re-energized native language and even a physical "spiritual" home in the island of Kaho'olawe, and one can see the outlines of a powerful Hawaiian nation already in place.
Those who argue that Hawaiians should simply sublimate their sense of nationhood are ignoring that the Akaka bill is merely the latest step in a movement that began in earnest three decades ago. It's time to accord them their due recognition as one of America's native peoples, lest many continue to harbor a sense that they are second-class citizens in their own homeland.
On these grounds, the Akaka bill, or something like it, deserves to become law. By recognizing Hawaiians as a political entity, not unlike American Indian tribes and Native Alaskans, there emerges a good shot of preserving and indeed enhancing the many programs aimed at helping Hawaiians and strengthening our Island society.
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Tuesday, July 19, 2005
Akaka bill hits roadblock
senators disagree on how to debate
by Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group
WASHINGTON -- A bill paving the way for Native Hawaiians to win federal recognition ran into a roadblock Monday, preventing the Senate from beginning debate on the landmark measure.
The hold-up came when several Republicans refused to sign-on to an agreement that would have provided for a quick and limited debate on the Hawaiian bill.
"We're still trying to work this out," said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, the bill sponsor. "There is a possibility we might do it (today)."
Senate Republicans have scheduled votes throughout this afternoon on State Department spending and a Burma trade resolution, so debate on the Hawaiian recognition bill may not occur until late in the day, if then.
The timetable still leaves open the chance the Senate could vote on the measure Wednesday or Thursday, a Democratic leadership aide said. But longer delays could complicate efforts to resolve the legislation by the end of the month, when Congress is scheduled to depart for a month-long summer recess.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who is spearheading negotiations among Republicans, said he is working to convince senators to bring the bill to a vote.
Although Kyl opposes the bill, he is keeping to an agreement he and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., struck last October with Hawaii's senators to bring the legislation to the Senate floor by August 7.
"There seem to be a few members who have certain questions," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.
He declined to elaborate, calling the conversations "personal."
Both sides are seeking to bring the recognition bill to the floor for a quick debate by limiting amendments only to those relevant to the bill. Such an arrangement requires an agreement by all senators not to offer unapproved or extraneous amendments.
Akaka complained Monday that some senators were stalling the Hawaiian bill by pursuing their own amendments.
"The amendments are not really about our bill," Akaka said. "They are trying to tack on riders."
Neither the senators nor their proposed amendments were able to be confirmed on Monday.
Gov. Linda Lingle, who is Washington to lobby on behalf of the measure, said Monday she hoped to speak before the Senate Republican caucus at its weekly luncheon today in an effort to sway some votes.
She also had scheduled meetings with at least six senators, some of whom have concerns about the measure, she said.
"I am a Republican governor in a Democratic state," Lingle said. "I stand for this and I think it's important for our state."
Akaka said he will address Democrats who also will gather for lunch.
The Senate's 44 Democrats and one independent support bringing the bill to the floor free of unrelated amendments, Akaka said.
Lawmakers said time was running short.
Congress is pushing to adjourn for the summer by July 29, leaving just two weeks for the Senate leadership to get the bill to the floor before the August deadline.
Any Senate delay could jeopardize House action on the measure before the recess.
"There are some procedures under which we are actively considering moving the bill through the House as soon as we can," said Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii. "We are running out of time."
While all eyes have been on the Senate these past few weeks, House lawmakers plan to study the measure themselves.
Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett was scheduled to testify before a House Judiciary subcommittee today along with two witnesses who oppose the measure.
"From all indications, it is the opposition continuing to try to argue the Constitutionality of the bill," Case said of the hastily scheduled hearing.
Honolulu advocate H. William Burgess and constitutional scholar Bruce Fein are slated to testify against Hawaiian recognition. Both plan to argue that the measure would create a "race-based" entity within the United States, a violation of equal rights under the Constitution.
Lingle spent time Monday at the White House to discuss Bush administration concerns over the bill. The Justice Department has questioned whether Congress has the authority to recognize an estimated 400,000 Hawaiians as they do American Indians.
"They are not saying it's unconstitutional," Lingle said. "They are looking forward to working with us. That's was a pretty good position compared to six months ago."
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Akaka bill likely to be heard before August recess
By Derrick DePledge
WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist indicated yesterday that a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill would soon come up for debate, giving some renewed optimism to Hawai'i senators who have tried to calm Republican opposition and bring the bill to a vote this week.
Frist, R-Tenn., in comments on the Senate floor just before the chamber adjourned for the evening, listed the bill as among the issues senators would consider before its August recess.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, used the floor session last night to speak with Republicans whose objections have stalled the bill this week. At least two Republican senators have apparently used their discretion under Senate powers to hold the bill until their concerns are satisfied, while others have suggested unrelated amendments, including, at one point, an apology for American Indians.
Holds are often anonymous, but one Republican, U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., confirmed through a spokesman yesterday that he was holding the bill to take a closer look at any possible impact on gambling. Meanwhile, tribal leaders from Oklahoma who support the bill had contacted the office of U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., in the belief that he might be holding it over its potential impact on federal money for Indian tribes. Coburn's staff could not be reached for comment.
The Akaka bill would recognize Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people and set up a process for Hawaiians to establish their own government. Akaka does not believe the issues raised by Republicans over the past few days are insurmountable and said a floor debate may be imminent. "I've been telling (Frist), 'Let's not talk about next week.' I want it this week," Akaka said.
In separate negotiations yesterday, state Attorney General Mark Bennett and aides to Akaka, U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, and U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., met with U.S. Department of Justice and White House officials to discuss the administration's concerns.
The Justice Department, in a letter to McCain last week, asked senators for more explicit language ensuring a Native Hawaiian government would not interfere with U.S. military facilities or have any gambling rights. The bill clearly does not authorize Native Hawaiians to conduct gaming under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, but some believe Hawaiians could later claim an inherent right to do so. The department also wanted lawmakers to clarify how criminal laws would be enforced on Native Hawaiian land.
The most difficult issue, which is still being negotiated, is the Justice Department's request that the bill either preclude any financial claims by Hawaiians against the U.S. government or reduce the statute of limitations to less than the 20 years now in the bill.
Donalyn Dela Cruz, a spokeswoman for Akaka, said people involved in those negotiations believed they were making progress and could have consensus on new language in time for a floor debate.
Gov. Linda Lingle met with Republican senators yesterday at their caucus and said U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who has been the main Republican opponent to the Akaka bill, repeated a commitment to bring the bill to the floor before August.
The governor did not address the caucus but was able to speak with senators individually over lunch, which was also attended by Vice President Dick Cheney. She later talked with Kyl and Ensign.
"To his credit, Sen. Kyl is living up to his commitment to the Hawai'i senators to get this on the floor for a debate and a vote," Lingle said.
If Republican leaders do reach an agreement, Akaka and Kyl will probably each propose several amendments to the bill. Akaka will likely add some of the Justice Department's recommendations, while Kyl's amendments would likely involve his concerns about the bill's racial implications.
One amendment could prohibit a Native Hawaiian government from exercising government powers if citizenship is determined by race. Another might require that federal civil rights laws would continue to protect citizens of the new government.
Kyl has also said that the final form of a new government should go before all Hawai'i residents in a referendum. Akaka has said that voters would likely have to approve a constitutional amendment if the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands are folded into a new government, but the senator does not envision a referendum.
In a sign that his opposition has not softened, Kyl sent a letter to U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, that criticized Lingle's and Bennett's defense of the bill. Chabot held a hearing yesterday on the bill before the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution.
Kyl wrote that Lingle and Bennett, who are both Republicans, have not adequately addressed the core problems of the bill. "Indeed, they have offered no amendments or even any acknowledgement that the legislation is anything other than perfect as-is," he wrote.
"Congress has an obligation to all Americans, including but not limited to the residents of Hawai'i, to demand more scrutiny of (the bill’s) provisions, to insist on amendments that correct or mitigate its deficiencies, and — barring a complete overhaul of the unconstitutional and otherwise objectionable provisions — to defeat the legislation outright and refuse to permit it to become law."
[Editorial note by Ken Conklin: Senator Kyl's 14-page document which he sent to the House Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution as his testimony opposing the Akaka bill can be downloaded from:
A webpage about the House Judiciary subcommittee hearing is available at:
Akaka said last night that he is also keeping his options open if it looks as if the delays might persist, including possibly placing holds on other bills as leverage.
"That's part of a kind of hardball move. I’m going to talk to our leader to see what options we have on the hardball side," he said.
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Opposition group has declaration to reject bill
Members of the Hui Pu, a loose-knit group of Native Hawaiian organizations opposed to the Akaka bill, plan to hold a press conference this morning at 'Iolani Palace to announce that it now has the signatures of more than 1,000 people on a declaration that condemns and rejects the legislation.
Andre Perez, Hui Pu coordinator, said the group wants to top the estimated 2,000 names in a two-page Office of Hawaiian Affairs newspaper advertisement that ran last week, and send it to members of Congress. "The goal is to show a lot more in opposition than what OHA has in support," Perez said.
Most of those in the Hui Pu favor a separate Hawaiian nation, although they differ in what form that would take.
The Hui Pu includes a number of well-known independent nation advocates, among them Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele of the Independent and Sovereign Nation State of Hawai'i (Nation of Hawai'i), Henry Noa of the Reinstated Hawaiian Kingdom, and Mililani Trask, former kia'aina of Ka Lahui o Hawai'i.
"The Akaka bill fails to address our history and legacy as a sovereign and independent people," Perez said.
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, July 20, 2005
KEY FIGURES FOR
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka: The nation's first part-Hawaiian U.S. senator, he is the namesake and emotional core of the bill. Akaka said while some want him to add more details regarding the reorganization process, he has refused. "The federal policy of self-governance and self-determination is based on the concept that native peoples are best able to manage their resources for themselves."
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye: Hawai'i's senior senator and one of the highest-ranking Democrats in the Senate is lobbying hard for the bill. Moving it out of the Senate would be as much Inouye's legacy as Akaka's. Inouye's maneuvering was crucial in securing a promise by majority Republicans to hold a vote on the bill by Aug. 7.
Gov. Linda Lingle: The Republican governor's support for the bill pits her against many of those in her party, both locally and in Washington. An essay she co-authored with state Attorney General Mark Bennett said: "The Akaka bill will not change the patriotism or valor of Native Hawaiians or Hawai'i's other residents. It will not set up a foreign nation in Hawai'i. It will, however, put Hawai'i on an equal footing with its 49 sister states, and it will end the second-class status of Hawai'i's indigenous people — Native Hawaiians."
Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees: Apoliona said congressional approval this year would culminate a five-year effort to fight the potential ramifications posed by the Rice v. Cayetano case, which said that it was unconstitutional to bar non-Hawaiians from OHA elections. "This bill provides justice and fairness to Native Hawaiians, but not at the expense of others and certainly not to the detriment of Hawai'i, our beloved homeland."
Jade Danner, information and government affairs manager for the Council on Native Hawaiian Advancement: The nonprofit organization warns that at least $70 million annually in federal grants for Native Hawaiian programs are in peril without the measure. "The bill neither denies the wounding history, nor attempts to turn back time. Unlike its opponents' positions, it takes nothing from others."
Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, former director of Hawaiian studies at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa: Unlike many who support an independent Hawaiian nation, she said she supports the bill because she believes it offers the first step toward a peaceful resolution to the conflict Native Hawaiians have with the United States. "Precluding us from gaining any land while having a government and federal recognition is unacceptable to all Hawaiians."
KEY FIGURES AGAINST
U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz.: He is a key obstacle to the bill on Capitol Hill, and prior to this year was credited with blocking it from coming to a vote on the Senate floor. Kyl’s main objection is his belief that the bill is unconstitutional. “By subjecting Native Hawaiians to a government that is not bound by the Constitution, the Akaka bill effectively would take away these constitutional rights from persons who currently enjoy their protection.”
U.S. Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio: The chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution could prove to be the main source of opposition in the House. Chabot has tended to favor a strict reading of the Constitution and is critical of what he believes are activist judges who interpret broader rights into the law. Chabot convened a meeting of his subcommittee yesterday and heard from three anti-Akaka experts and one pro-Akaka attorney.
Jon Osorio, director of Hawaiian studies at UH: Like others in the sovereignty movement, Osorio believes it is incorrect for Native Hawaiians to be negotiating with the entity that wronged them. "The sovereignty movement has never been particularly cooperative with the federal government and the state of Hawai'i, nor should it be," Osorio said in a recent editorial. "The Americans can no more legislate a solution for our national aspirations than Britain could for Americans in the 18th century."
H. William Burgess, Aloha for All: The lead attorney in the case that challenged federal entitlements for Hawaiians only, Burgess believes the bill could give a new governing entity up to 40 percent of the state's natural assets. Further, Burgess says on his Web site, "It is reasonable to anticipate that the new Hawaiians-only government and its territory will have at least all of the sovereignty, jurisdiction, governing powers and authority of American Indian tribes and reservations."
Andre Perez, coordinator of the Hui Pu: Most of those in the loose-knit group of Native Hawaiian organizations opposed to the bill also favor an independent nation and believe the bill would hinder that movement. Perez, spokesman for the group, said Native Hawaiians have not been able to express their opinions in a formal setting since 2000. "The Akaka bill fails to address our history and legacy as a sovereign, independent people."
Richard Rowland, president, Grassroot Institute of Hawai'i: The nonprofit group has taken out a newspaper ad, conducted polls and hired a high-powered Washington law firm to educate people about what it believes is wrong with the Akaka bill. Rowland believes a majority of Hawai'i residents oppose the bill and that a referendum should be held. "We need to ask the people of Hawai'i what they think."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday, July 20, 2005
THE AKAKA BILL
Akaka and Lingle hope to remove ‘holds’ on bill
By Richard Borreca
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, commonly referred to as the Akaka Bill, remains locked up because two Republican senators have placed "holds" on the bill, meaning that the Senate will not act on the measure unless the senators remove their holds or 60 senators agree to force a vote.
Time is starting to run out.
The Senate goes on a one-month recess starting next week and the bill has yet to be positioned for hearing or passage in the House.
Akaka said last night that he would try to talk to the two GOP senators who are objecting to the bill. "I am still working on it. Right now, I am on my way to look for the holders and try to get them to release their holds," Akaka said.
Akaka did not identify the two senators, but The Associated Press quoted a spokesman of Sen. John Ensign as confirming that the Nevada Republican has put a "hold" on the bill.
"We want to make sure there are not things in there that aren't germane to the bill," said Ensign's spokesman, Jack Finn. The possibility of the bill leading to legalized gambling is the main concern, Finn told the AP.
Although the bill prohibits a native Hawaiian governing entity from using the law governing mainland Native Americans to engage in legalized gambling, "We want to make sure the language is sufficient," Finn said.
The landmark federal legislature, which would start the process of forming a native Hawaiian government to negotiate with the state and federal governments, remained stalled despite pleas from Gov. Linda Lingle, Hawaii Sens. Akaka and Daniel Inouye and even GOP leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Lingle is expected to return to Hawaii today after lobbying for the Akaka Bill for three days. Yesterday, she met with several senators who had objections to the bill, and she said she was uncertain if the measure would come to a vote this week or next.
Lingle was a guest in the Senate Republican caucus lunch yesterday and used the time to lobby for the Akaka Bill. After sitting next to Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who opposes the bill but has promised to bring it to the floor for a vote before the August recess, Lingle said she remained optimistic.
"I do feel there is a commitment to have a vote and let the debate go forward. That is all we are asking for," Lingle said.
Lingle and Akaka are finding that the bill has become something of a moving target.
"There is not one thing, there are a multitude of things. As soon as you think you have dealt with one, something else pops up from a completely different senator," Lingle said.
Akaka acknowledged that this week's delays were not expected. "I came to work Monday after spending the weekend brushing up on what I was going to say, and then Monday morning it was not even on the schedule," he said.
Senior aides to Akaka and Inouye met yesterday with representatives of the White House, Office of Management and Budget and the Department of Justice, and with aides to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., chairman of the Indian Affairs subcommittee, and Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett.
While that group was working on federal concerns about the bill, Kyl circulated a list of proposed amendments, including one that would limit the powers of any recognized government that would be identified by race.
"If citizenship in the native Hawaiian governing entity is determined racially, the entity shall be precluded from exercising governmental powers," the Kyl amendment said.
The most controversial amendment, however, would guarantee that the Akaka Bill would not "create legal obligations against the United States that are enforceable through a money-damages action, or to invite land claims litigation within Hawaii."
Akaka and Inouye have both said such a clause would not be acceptable to them, but it is unclear how much support it would have within the Republican majority.
Meanwhile, the House subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing on the House version to explore whether "Congress can create a race-based government."
Supporters of the Akaka Bill argue it is not based on race, but rather the indigenous people who originally lived in Hawaii. But critics say the concept goes against the idea of a "color-blind" nation.
"The issue we are focused on today suggests that race should be the sole criteria for how individuals are treated. I couldn't disagree more," Rep. Steve Chabot, subcommittee chairman, R-Ohio, said. "America should not be a place where governments are defined by race or ancestry or the color of one's skin.
"And it should not be a place neighbors, who may have lived next to each other for decades, are suddenly subject to two civil and criminal stands because of race," Chabot said.
Bennett argued that participation in the native Hawaiian government is based not on race but on "being a descendant of the native indigenous people of the Hawaiian Islands."
"Native Hawaiians, like native Americans and Alaska natives, are the aboriginal indigenous people of their geographic region. All other racial groups in this country are simply not native to this country," he said.
On July 20, 2005 Honolulu Star-Bulletin political cartoonist "Corky" published a cartoon showing Akaka-bill supporters at the door of the Senate; where the doorman says "Akaka bill? Back entrance please" Cartoon originally published at:
Honolulu Advertiser, Wednesday, July 20, 2005, "breaking news"
Senate vote on Akaka bill doubtful this week
BY DERRICK DEPLEDGE
A Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill hit a serious roadblock in the U.S. Senate today, after Hawaiian senators learned that as many as six Republican senators are blocking the bill from coming to the floor for a vote.
The opposition means the bill likely will not reach a vote this week, and raises doubt about whether the bill would be heard before the Senate breaks for an August recess, as Republican leaders had promised.
U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, continue to talk with Republicans, but may consider asking Democratic leaders to try to force a vote on the bill next week.
Democratic leaders would have to file a cloture motion, which would open up 30 hours of debate on the bill. Sixty votes are required to end cloture and free the bill to the floor.
Inouye said it would be an extraordinary step to take, but he believes he has enough votes.
Akaka also was optimistic.
"Just know we haven't given up," Akaka said.
The Republican objections include whether the bill would lead to gambling, and, more fundamentally, whether the U.S. government should recognize Native Hawaiians as it does American Indians.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Wednesday, July 20, 2005 "breaking news"
Akaka bill blocked
GOP concerns prevent bill from being heard this week
A bill to start the process of recognizing native Hawaiian sovereignty has been blocked in the Senate, according to Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka.
In a meeting with reporters in his Washington office today, Akaka said he has been told by Republican Senate leaders that the bill will not move this week.
In reaction, Hawaii’s senior Sen. Daniel Inouye asked the Senate Democratic leaders to prepare a “motion of cloture,” which could force the entire Senate to vote on the bill either next week or when the Senate returns from its August recess.
Inouye said he is hoping for a vote next week but he is not sure if that would be possible.
Akaka said he had been told that there were six GOP senators objecting for reasons ranging from, “it would not be good for Hawaiians,” to concerns over a Hawaiian nation allowing gambling in Hawaii.
“It is very disappointing,” Akaka said.
“They won’t let me go forward now.”
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Wednesday, July 20, 2005
Akaka bill stuck
SENATORS ARGUE OVER WORDING
by Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group
WASHINGTON -- Hawaii leaders struggled for a second day Tuesday to bring a federal recognition bill to the Senate floor while lawmakers continued to raise questions as they focused -- some for the first time -- on the effort to promote Native Hawaiians.
Hawaii leaders said they remained optimistic the bill would pass the Senate this week. But in the short term, Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye, and visiting Gov. Linda Lingle were putting out brush fires to clear a path for the measure.
"I've been trying to clarify what the bill does or doesn't do," said Lingle, who met with Republican senators individually and at their caucus luncheon Tuesday.
"I think we've been able to get people to keep an open mind," she said.
While most Democrats are expected to vote for the bill, some Republicans have raised resistance.
While he planned to oppose the bill, Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said, "I suspect it has the votes" to pass.
Several conservative Republicans continued to block the bill, which creates a process for Native Hawaiians to organize and govern themselves.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., placed a hold on the bill, saying it needed tougher language to guarantee Native Hawaiians would not be allowed to open casinos on the islands or on the mainland.
Sen, Tom Coburn, R-Okla., also had a hold on the bill at one point, Senate aides said. Coburn and some other senators have expressed concern the establishment of a Native Hawaiian entity would lead to the "balkanization" of Hawaii.
Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., said permitting sovereignty rights to Native Hawaiians would create "a state within a state."
Hawaii senators, trying to get the legislation passed before Congress breaks for summer recess in August, continued to negotiate with the Justice Department to comfort Bush administration problems.
Ensign said anti-gambling language in the Hawaiian bill "is too loose."
The bill "won't come forward unless we can have assurances that in the language gaming will not be part of the legislation," Ensign said.
Hawaii is one of only two states without legalized gambling -- Utah is the other. Ensign said he feared Native Hawaiians could purchase mainland property and use claims of sovereignty to build gaming establishments. Some American Indian tribes have utilized similar "off-reservation" procedures to expand their gaming reach.
Lingle met with Ensign and told the Nevadan that Hawaii's state officials stood squarely against gambling.
"If people feel it needs to be even stronger to ensure we don't have gambling in our state then I'm very supportive of that," Lingle said. "That is something not only can we address, it's being discussed right now. Language is being drafted."
Other Republicans voiced reservations about expanding federal recognition beyond American Indians and Alaska Natives, the only two groups Congress now recognizes as sovereign nations.
"I just get more and more concerned about these things we're doing," Lott said. "We're apologizing to this group, we're apologizing to that group. We carve out a niche for this group, for something else over here.... I don't understand why this needs to be done."
Burns said, "We're all Americans first."
Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said "I am not sure this is the right thing to do." Sens. David Vitter, R-La., and Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., each acknowledged "strong concerns" with the bill.
While the bill provides that no Native American funding be diverted to Native Hawaiian programs, several Republicans from states with large Indian populations predicted Indians would suffer financially.
"It would dilute some of the programs," said Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla, who said every tribal chief in his state was opposed to Hawaiian recognition. The National Congress of American Indians supports the bill.
But Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said he would vote for the bill.
"I've indicated I'm going to support it," he said.
Other Republicans said they also would vote for the bill, including Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.
"The delay is not a bad thing as we've gone from a chorus of negativity against this, and now I think we're starting to see some movement on this," Coleman said. "I'm hopeful this is going to pass. I think the tide is turning."
Lingle lobbied Sessions, Coburn, Ensign, Sens. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, John McCain, R-Ariz., and Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. McCain invited her to a Republican lunch Tuesday where she talked up the bill with other senators, including Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who agreed last October to bring the bill to the floor by August 7.
Meanwhile, Akaka could be seen buttonholing senators during votes.
"I was looking for everybody," Akaka said. "I'm trying to answer some of the holds but we have another day."
Inouye said the Hawaii delegation remained in negotiations with the Justice Department, which has expressed concerns regarding gaming, Native claim rights, civil and criminal jurisdictions.
Crossing his fingers, Inouye said he was hopeful an agreement could be reached Wednesday.
"Now they are returning to discuss the matter with their principles to come up with proposals everybody would be happy with," Inouye said of Justice Department representatives who met with Hawaii aides on Tuesday.
Meanwhile in the House, Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett argued the merits of the bill before a Judiciary Committee panel examining whether Congress has the constitutional power to recognize Native Hawaiians.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, who chaired the hearing, suggested the bill would create a "race-based" government.
"The issue that we're focused on today suggests race should be the sole criteria for how individuals are treated and many of us believe that would be a mistake," Chabot said.
His point was echoed by Honolulu attorney H. William Burgess, who traveled to Washington to speak against the bill, constitutional expert Bruce Fein, and a former Justice Department official Shannen Coffin.
"The U.S. can't give rights to groups of people merely because they share an ancestry," Burgess said.
Bennett said America's founding fathers certainly would have characterized Native Hawaiians as Indians, a term used for the frontier's natives.
"To say this is a race-based government is also to say every recognized Indian government is a race-based government as well," said Bennett, who argued the creation of a Hawaiian entity would be a political designation rather than a racial classification.
Sitting in the audience were eight of nine trustees for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, including Big Island trustee Linda K. Dela Cruz.
"We're not talking about race," she said. "We're talking about justice. It's about time we get recognized. I wish they would have asked me some questions."
Ensign Aims to Keep Casinos From Native Hawaiians
by Benjamin Grove
WASHINGTON -- Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has blocked a historic bill that eventually would give native Hawaiians sovereign status.
Ensign is concerned the legislation could lead to native Hawaiians launching a vacationland gaming industry that could compete with Nevada casinos, much as Native Americans have done.
Ensign said he was working with the Justice Department, in consultation with bill sponsor Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to hammer out legislation that would make it clear that native Hawaiians could not sponsor gaming operations.
The bill already contains an anti-gaming provision. It states, "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize the Native Hawaiian governing entity to conduct gaming activities under the authority of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act."
But even that leaves a door open to potential gaming, Ensign said.
"The language is too loose," he said.
As part of his legislation, Ensign aims to draft language that would prevent any native Hawaiian group from obtaining land in another state with the intention of opening a casino. He cited the case of an Alaskan Native corporation that has eyed property for a casino near the Denver Airport.
Hawaii lawmakers and their aides said they do not object to Ensign tightening the language to clearly ban native Hawaiians from opening gaming operations.
"It's an easy problem to solve because we are all on the same page already," Rep. Ed Case, D-Hawaii, said. He said Hawaiian politicians are united with native Hawaiian groups against gaming.
Hawaii is one of only two states with no legal forms of gambling, along with Utah. Republican Gov. Linda Lingle met with Ensign in his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday and re-iterated her state's stance on gaming. Lingle, a longtime opponent of gaming, said native Hawaiians had never approached her with their interest in gaming.
"He (Ensign) doesn't want gambling in Hawaii for his own reasons," she said after the meeting. "I don't want gambling in Hawaii for mine."
Lingle has been lobbying President Bush and Congress for the sovereign recognition legislation, and she and other Hawaiian officials were back on Capitol Hill this week to meet with key lawmakers in a final effort to drive the bill to the floor.
The bill was to be debated this week.
Ensign spokesman Jack Finn today said the language could be finalized -- and Ensign's hold removed -- as early as today.
Akaka spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said Akaka hoped that the bill could be on the floor for debate as early as today. The staffs in Akaka's office and Ensign's office have been in touch this week, she said.
Akaka earlier this week was taken aback that someone had placed a hold on the bill, fearing further delays, she said. A hold placed by a single senator can delay action on a bill.
"He wanted to find out who had issues and what those issues were," Dela Cruz said. "He wants to debate this bill on the floor."
Hawaii's four Democratic lawmakers and other elected leaders have long fought for the bill's passage.
Bill supporters argue that natives should be allowed to form their own governing body. Critics say the legislation could create two classes of people in Hawaii or even herald the beginning of a state secession movement.
Honolulu Advertiser, Thursday, July 21, 2005
GOP senators quietly muscle in against Akaka bill
By Derrick DePledge
WASHINGTON — A federal bill on Native Hawaiian recognition encountered a minefield in the U.S. Senate yesterday, with as many as six Republican senators secretly using their power and influence to stop the bill from coming to the floor for a debate.
The sudden roadblocks, as Hawai'i senators thought they were making progress, means the bill will likely not reach the floor this week and raises doubt about whether it can be heard before the Senate recesses next week.
Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, said he was prepared to force a vote if Republican leaders did not follow through with a commitment made last year to schedule a debate and vote by August.
The procedure, known as cloture, would trigger 30 hours of Senate debate, essentially halting other business. Sixty votes are required to get cloture and free the bill to the floor for consideration.
Inouye said he does not want to be an obstructionist but expects Republican leaders to honor their commitment. "Without that sort of relationship, then you'll have hell on earth here."
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who told Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, yesterday that the bill would not be moving, said he and other Republicans question its scope and want to carefully review its implications.
"I think we need to slow this thing down and talk about it," Sessions said. "The whole creation of a government that excludes people based on race or ethnicity is a fundamental matter that we all ought to be careful about."
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who is expected to lead the fight against the bill if it reaches the floor, described it in a letter to a Republican colleague as "troubling legislation that deserves far more scrutiny than it has thus far received."
Republicans have raised several issues over the past few days, including whether Native Hawaiians might eventually want to legalize gambling and whether they would file financial claims against the United States. But many of the objections appear to spring from a fundamental philosophical opposition to recognizing Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people with a right to form their own government.
"There are some who are just opposed because they don't believe that we should designate some as Native Americans and others as Americans," Inouye said. "You hear that argument sometimes in Hawai'i."
Some Republicans have cited concerns about expanding sovereignty to Hawaiians given past conflicts between federal and state governments and Indian tribes. Akaka, who part is Hawaiian, said he was stung when one Republican told him the bill was "not the right thing for the Hawaiians."
"I resented that," he said. "And I take it that that feeling is there because they really don't know the Hawaiians as I do or we do. And I wish up to this point that they would have a better feeling of what the Hawaiians really are."
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., had mentioned the recognition bill on the Senate floor Tuesday as one the Senate should consider before the recess.
Akaka had been speaking with two Republican senators who he believed were holding up the bill, but then learned yesterday that as many as four other Republicans were using the same tactics.
Senators, by tradition, can anonymously hold bills if they have objections. Holds are not officially part of the Senate's rules but are typically honored by leadership. Holds have prevented the bill from advancing in the Senate since it was first introduced by Akaka and the state's congressional delegation in 2000.
Gov. Linda Lingle, state Attorney General Mark Bennett and trustees from the state Office of Hawaiian Affairs have been meeting with lawmakers and Bush administration officials over the past few days.
Akaka and Inouye both said they believed they were close to reaching agreement on changes to the bill recommended by the U.S. Department of Justice, which had raised some of the same issues as Republican senators.
Sessions, who said he met with Lingle this week, said Republicans would want time to look at revisions to the bill. The Hawai'i senators said they would continue to work with Republicans on possible amendments but were not going to accept what they view as unreasonable changes.
One Republican proposal would prohibit a Native Hawaiian government from ever allowing gambling, even if the state of Hawai'i one day legalizes gambling. Hawai'i is one of two states — Utah is the other — that bar gambling, and the bill has language that would prevent a Hawaiian government from pursuing gambling through the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.
"I felt it was really out of line to suggest that something should never change," said Akaka, who, like Inouye, has opposed gambling in Hawai'i.
U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada, who has confirmed he placed a hold on the bill, has cited gambling as his main concern. Another Republican senator apparently wants assurances the Senate would vote on a resolution apologizing for the U.S. government's treatment of American Indians.
In Hawai'i, opponents of the bill applauded the moves and see any delay as an opportunity to convince more people of its pitfalls.
"There is a lot of opposition," said Andre Perez, coordinator for Hui Pu, an umbrella group for Native Hawaiians against the bill. The group has collected 1,000 names for a declaration condemning the bill for not representing all Native Hawaiians.
Thurston Twigg-Smith, a former publisher of The Advertiser who supports Aloha for All, which has fought the bill as racial separation and unconstitutional, said a delay gives the opposition more time to mobilize.
"It gives everybody a little more time to really think about the bill," he said.
But Micah Kane, the chairman of the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands, dismissed the notion that a delay would hurt the bill's chances. "It's clarifying as opposed to stopping," he said.
"I don't believe, at least based on my discussions with the governor and the attorney general's office, that there is an issue we can't overcome."
Akaka said he believes the bill has enough support to pass with a majority vote in the 100-member chamber, and Inouye said he thought he could get the 60 votes necessary for cloture.
Honolulu Advertiser, Thursday, July 21, 2005
For some, Akaka bill falls far short
By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Opponents of the Akaka bill yesterday placed a chair on the front porch of 'Iolani Palace with a sign on the seat marked "Department of the Interior."
"That symbolizes our throne in our palace being occupied again by the United States government," said Andre Perez, organizer of Hui Pu, an umbrella group of organizations opposed to the Akaka bill. "We do not want to be with the Department of Interior," he said, referring to the bill's language that gives a large role to the federal agency.
"This seat here is something that we are soon to reclaim," Perez said at a news conference in front of the last home to Hawaiian monarchs, itself considered by many in the independence movement a symbol of what was lost in the overthrow.
"We are planning to reclaim this seat very shortly," he said. "This palace represents our country and someday soon it will be back to us, I guarantee you that."
The group is collecting signatures on a "declaration" in opposition to the bill that it will send to members of Congress in hopes of convincing them to at least delay a vote on the legislation, if not defeat it altogether. Members said they have accumulated more than 1,000 names in five days from the public.
The bill, which has been held up from a vote on the floor of the U.S. Senate this week, would recognize Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people similar to American Indians and Alaska Natives and create a process for them, if they choose, to establish a government that could negotiate with the state of Hawai'i and the United States on issues such as housing, land use and cultural preservation.
The group is asking people who oppose the bill to put up a single ti leaf on their homes, cars or other property as a sign of protest. Perez said the ti leaf was used traditionally to symbolize a warding off, thrusting aside or parrying, to "pale" in Hawaiian. "The ti leaf will be used to show our resistance to the Akaka bill because we do not want the Akaka bill, we never asked for the Akaka bill."
Hui Pu wants Native Hawaiians to be able to vote on whether to accept the bill before it goes to Congress.
Terri Keko'olani, another Hui Pu member, said the language in the declaration is patterned after the "Ku'e Petitions" of 1897. Signed by 38,000 Hawaiian nationals, the petition opposed the proposed United States Treaty of Annexation, she said.
"The Hui Pu seeks self-determination under international law, and rejects and condemns the Akaka bill as a barrier to Hawai'i nationals' inherent right to self-determination under international law," she said.
Hui Pu members made it a point to distinguish themselves from the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and others who oppose the bill because they believe it is race-based.
"We're not the grassroot, we the grass," said Kelii "Skippy" Ioane.
Performing artist and Lili'uokalani scholar Leo Anderson Akana said she takes offense when supporters of the bill say it will benefit all Hawaiians, even if it is not perfect.
"They are going to Washington with a cracked koa bowl, that does not represent me," Akana said. "I am not a cracked koa bowl. Our people are people who have strived for perfection, honesty, truth and aloha."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Thursday, July 21, 2005
Hopes dim for Akaka Bill vote
At least six GOP senators have issues with the measure
By Richard Borreca
WASHINGTON » The Akaka Bill will not get its expected vote in the Senate this week, and its prospects are uncertain as Republican opposition to the native Hawaiian recognition measure continued to grow.
Hawaii's Democratic senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka, held back-to-back news conferences yesterday to report that at least six Republicans senators have concerns about the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 and have asked that a vote on the measure be postponed.
Until this week, Inouye and Akaka had been encouraged by an agreement with Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., a strong opponent of the bill, to allow it to come to the floor for a vote.
Last week, Inouye and Akaka predicted the native Hawaiian recognition bill would win its final approval in the Senate by this time.
It is still possible for the bill to come up for a vote because of continuing private negotiations with the dissenting GOP senators, Inouye and Akaka said. Or Democrats could try a "motion of cloture," which could force a vote next week or when the Senate returns from its August recess.
But the outlook was glum yesterday evening.
Akaka, who has championed federal recognition for a native Hawaii government for six years, said the news "was disheartening."
"The message from leadership is they will not let us go forward. It is very disappointing to me. We have worked for many, many years just trying to get it to the floor for a vote," Akaka said.
Akaka said at least six Republican senators have placed holds on the bill. Inouye said this is a traditional way for a senator to block a bill from coming to the floor for a vote.
Senators can use a hold to either get information about a bill or block the measure completely, Inouye said. To go around a hold, the Hawaii senators must get 60 senators to agree to a motion of cloture, which would call for the bill to be debated.
Inouye called the hold maneuvers "a crisis" but said he remained optimistic the bill would eventually pass.
The Senate adjourns for its August recess on July 29 and will not return until after Labor Day. Inouye said he is worried the Senate is likely to be spending its time debating John Roberts' Supreme Court nomination, military spending and appropriations bills, and other controversial issues when it resumes in September.
"I can see myself being pushed into the background," Inouye said.
While Inouye was discussing tactics, Akaka found himself arguing the bill with senators who he said told him they "didn't think it would be good for Hawaiians."
"I resented that, and I take it that the feeling was there because they don't really know the Hawaiians, and I wish they could have a better feeling of what Hawaiians are," Akaka said.
Akaka Bill opponent H. William Burgess, a Honolulu attorney who has worked on cases challenging Hawaiian preferences, said the measure's troubles in the Senate did not surprise him.
"Because of the (Roberts) nomination, it looks like there is just too much to go on now," Burgess said. "It gives us more time to continue to shine the sunlight on the bill, and the more people contemplate and see what the bill really does, the more likely it is they're going to say it's impossible to do this."
Ikaika Hussey, a spokesman for the Hawaiian sovereignty coalition Hui Pu, which also opposes the measure, said he also hopes that a delay would result in more study of the bill. Hui Pu members believe the Akaka Bill does not reflect the views of many native Hawaiians.
"The most important thing is that we use the time that the delay is creating to really push the Senate to hold hearings in Hawaii on the bill," Hussey said. "It's a minimum requirement as a democracy."
Gambling appears to be a big sticking point in the Senate, but there are other issues that might have nothing to do with native Hawaiians.
"There are senators who are concerned about the expansion of gaming," Inouye said. "There are senators concerned about extending the rights of native Americans. And there are senators concerned about the (legal) claims they feel will be generated by this bill."
Both Inouye and Akaka said some senators feel if native Hawaiians are allowed to form a sovereign nation, they will be permitted to operate casinos.
Akaka also said that some senators believe American Indians already have "too many rights, and for that reason, they feel Hawaiians would be able to do what Indian tribes do, as well."
Inouye and Akaka said they have assured colleagues that the Akaka Bill would start a process to form a native Hawaiian government, but it would take more than a decade to accomplish.
In the meantime, supporters of the bill said they will wait to see what Akaka and Inouye get done in the coming week.
"There is a chance the bill will still be passed this term. We have every confidence that Sen. Akaka and Sen. Inouye will do everything they can," said Clyde Namuo, executive director of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
But U.S. Rep. Ed Case said the new Senate objections raise concerns for the bill to get out of the House.
"If it has broad opposition in the Senate, and assuming that it does pass, you would expect there to be some cross-pollination. There is clearly going to be some house activity," Case predicted.
Case, like Inouye and Akaka, predicts that the Akaka Bill has enough support to pass if it is put up to a vote.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Thursday July 21, 2005
Hawaiian group rallies at palace against Akaka Bill
By B.J. Reyes
As the native Hawaiian recognition bill was being stalled in Congress, a coalition of Hawaiian sovereignty groups rallied at Iolani Palace yesterday calling for support in defeating the Akaka Bill.
About 40 members of the recently formed Hui Pu ("group to unite") coalition, which opposes the bill, hoisted a chair adorned with ti leaves to the top of the palace steps and placed a sign in the seat reading "U.S. Department of Interior."
Organizers said the display represented the agency sitting in the throne of the Hawaiian government -- a symbol of what would happen if the Akaka Bill were passed into law.
"We don't want to be in the Department of Interior," said Andre Perez, one of the founding members of Hui Pu. "We want to be what we were: free. The palace represents our country, and someday soon it will be back to us."
The Akaka Bill would allow native Hawaiians to organize as a collective body governed by its own constitution and laws.
Sovereignty groups seek independence from the United States and oppose the Akaka Bill, saying it does not do enough to accomplish their goal and would essentially create a new government controlled by the Interior Department.
Other groups oppose the measure, calling it racist legislation that would create two classes of people governed by different laws.
Yesterday's rally by Hui Pu was aimed at calling attention to its cause, restating their objections to the bill and distancing themselves from the other opponents.
"The Hui Pu seeks self-determination under international law and rejects and condemns the Akaka Bill as a barrier to kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) inherent right to self-determination under international law," the group said in a statement.
Officials said a petition drive over the past five days had collected more than a thousand signatures supporting a position statement declaring, "We the undersigned ... reject and condemn ... the Akaka Bill in any shape or form, as it purports to legislate the political status of our people who have never yielded our sovereignty over our national lands to the United States."
Earlier this month, members of Hui Pu rallied at an Office of Hawaiian Affairs meeting to demand more hearings on the latest version of the bill, which was expected to be debated in the Senate this week. The measure has stalled because of objections from majority Republicans.
Ikaika Hussey, a spokesman for Hui Pu, said he was hopeful that a delay would result in more hearings.
"There should be no vote (in Congress) until hearings are held," he said.
West Hawaii Today, Thursday, July 21, 2005
State senators brace for tough fight
LEGISLATION BEEN DELAYED FOR 3 DAYS
by Samantha Young
Stephens Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Frustrated by what they consider stalling tactics by opponents, Hawaii senators said Wednesday they are preparing to play hard ball to force the Senate to focus on a bill recognizing Native Hawaiians.
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, said Democrats have signed cloture paperwork to force votes if a handful of Republican critics don't back down from what has amounted to an informal filibuster that has delayed the legislation for three days.
If invoked by a majority of 60 senators, cloture would require 30 hours of debate on the Hawaiian bill. It could be a contentious strategy that would tie up the Senate and prevent debate on spending bills, defense programs, stem cell research and gun liability laws that are on the leadership wish list before summer break set to begin the end of next week.
Inouye said he could get 60 votes to invoke cloture. But he said he would like to resolve the bill through a few more days of negotiation before taking that step.
"That would put a monkey wrench in the whole operation," Inouye said. "It's an extreme step to take because I don't believe in doing business that way."
Another tactic, suggested by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, could be to give the Republicans a taste of their own medicine by blocking other bills from the Senate floor.
"The other side will not let us go forward with the bill," Akaka said. "After six years I'm asking to have an opportunity to take the bill to the floor."
The combative play from Hawaii senators reflected weariness and frustration of working to overcome obstacles that have held up the Native Hawaiian legislation.
Republican leaders promised to bring the Hawaiian recognition bill to the Senate floor before August 7. Debate was set to begin Monday, but as of Wednesday the bill remained stalled with at least six senators blocking it for various reasons. The Senate is scheduled to adjourn for the summer Friday July 29.
The bill would pave the way for 400,000 Native Hawaiians to organize and seek federal recognition from the federal government. As part of the process, Hawaiians would negotiate with state and federal governments over land, civil and criminal jurisdictions and other rights.
All Democrats are expected to vote for it. Republicans have been split, with critics proving tenacious to the Hawaii sponsors.
Among criticisms are that the bill would give Native Hawaiians too many rights and open the door to land and monetary claims against the government.
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., has stopped the bill from going forward until gambling restrictions are strengthened. Other senators have said they oppose granting sovereignty rights to another native group besides American Indians and Native Alaskans.
Akaka and Inouye continued negotiations Wednesday with the Justice Department regarding a handful of issues keeping the bill from reaching the floor, including provisions sought by the Bush administration to limit claims by Native Hawaiians.
KGMB TV News, Thursday, July 21, 2005 05:27 PM
Attorneys Inspect Akaka Bill
Norman Lee - firstname.lastname@example.org
Attorneys have now entered the political
tug-of-war over the Akaka bill which gives
federal recognition to Native Hawaiians.
White House lawyers, the state attorney general
and legal representatives from the Office of
Hawaiian Affairs are going over the legal
language of the bill.
The discussions come after a handful of
Republican senators prevented the bill from
reaching the floor for debate. Some critics
question whether Native Hawaiians should be
allowed to form their own government.
Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka said he tried to speak
with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist last night.
"I learned that the Majority Leader left on a
trip and will not be returning to the Capitol
tomorrow or Monday," Akaka said in a statement.
"Although I am disappointed, I am making every
effort to reach him by phone tonight and
throughout the weekend."
Gov. Linda Lingle returned to Hawaii from
Washington last night. She also tried to lobby
key Republican senators to move the Akaka bill to
the floor for consideration.
"I was on the phone at 6 a.m. our time this
morning with White House Policy Chief Claude
Allen," Lingle said. "He then phoned Mark Bennett
to discuss this language that everyone is trying
to work out. So the fact everyone is still
talking is a good sign."
Hawaii's congressional delegation wants to move
the bill to the Senate floor for debate. Senators
Akaka and Dan Inouye said they have the votes to
pass the bill and are working to move it before
the Senate recesses in August. However, Lingle
said if that does not happen, all is not lost.
"I heard some talk before I left Washington that
in fact, they were trying to get a unanimous
consent which would give them a date certain in
September," said Lingle. "If it's an actual date
rather than a 'Well, we will try our best before
recess,' then it's not a bad thing either."
Lingle added she understands the frustration of
Hawaii's two senators who were promised the bill
would move to the floor by now.
"I'm certain they will work today and tomorrow to
make certain people live up to the obligations
they made to at least let this come to a vote,"
Lingle said. "That's all we're asking for. If
people oppose it and they want to vote no, then
let them vote no when it comes to the floor, but
let it come to a vote."
Honolulu Advertiser, Friday, July 22, 2005
Akaka, Inouye are not backing off
By Derrick DePledge
WASHINGTON — At the time, it seemed like a breakthrough.
The leaders of the U.S. Senate promised last fall they would use their "best efforts" to bring a Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill to the floor for a vote by August, possibly ending five years of Republican delays. U.S. Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, agreed in return to lift his threat to attach the bill to a package of energy-related bills that were pending, which would have likely stalled debate on projects important to more than two dozen members of the Senate.
The deal had defused a confrontation that is common in the Senate, where grace and collegiality often mask the sharp displays of power available to individual senators under the chamber's rules and traditions.
But with just a week to go before an August recess, several Republicans have again tried to delay the recognition bill from coming to the floor, leaving Inouye and U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, to ask whether Republican leaders will risk breaking their word.
"In this body, a promise is a promise," said Inouye, who has served longer than all but two other senators and who is among the top Democrats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which oversees federal spending.
Inouye has said he would try to force a vote next week on the recognition bill if as many as six Republican holds are not lifted. A cloture motion requires the support of 60 senators and, as Inouye said, could "put a monkey wrench in the whole operation" by interrupting other work.
Akaka, who is known for his aloha rather than his aggression, has contemplated going after other senators' bills if the recognition bill does not come up soon.
"We have worked for many, many years here just trying to get it on the floor. And we're disappointed that this has not happened," Akaka said.
The escalation has put some pressure on two of the Republicans who signed off on the October agreement, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., who has been the Senate's leading opponent of Native Hawaiian recognition.
The agreement was not a guarantee, but Kyl did make a personal commitment to Inouye and Akaka to talk to other Republican senators to ensure that procedural roadblocks — such as the Republican holds that have stopped the bill this week — would not occur.
A spokesman for Frist said yesterday the Republican leader would bring the bill to the floor if the holds were released. "We are working to uphold the agreement," said spokesman Nick Smith.
Kyl told The Advertiser last night that most of the issues raised by Republican senators who have holds on the bill could either be solved through negotiation or addressed by allowing more Republican amendments to be debated when the bill is heard on the floor.
Republicans have cited the potential for gambling and financial claims against the United States if Native Hawaiians are allowed to form their own government, although many Republicans, including Kyl, reject the entire premise of recognition as unconstitutional racial separation.
Kyl said he wants to honor the commitment made to Inouye and Akaka and urged the bill's supporters to negotiate over the next few days with the Republicans who have holds.
"I've felt a lot of pressure," Kyl said. "And I have spent untold hours getting it done. But like I said, I'm a little put out now. I'm doing all the work and I'm not getting any help."
Kyl said that while a debate or vote on the bill next week is unlikely, it would be "very possible" to reach a consent agreement and set the terms for a debate after the Senate returns from recess in September.
"Everybody knows where the problem areas are," Kyl said. "I can't make miracles happen, so help me out."
Gov. Linda Lingle, who returned to Honolulu on Wednesday after meeting with Republican senators and White House officials here this week, said she had also heard some discussion of a consent agreement for a debate in September.
"Those who are successful in getting something through Congress are those who never, ever give up," Lingle said after attending a luncheon in Waikiki. "And that's simply how we have to approach this. If you put this into the context of the past couple of years, we're farther along than we've ever been before."
Inouye and Akaka had wanted a vote before the August recess both because Republicans had made a promise and because of the Senate's calendar. After senators return in September, they may only be in session for several more weeks, when work on spending bills and the possible confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice may consume most of their time.
Late action on the bill would also make it more difficult for it to move this year in the U.S. House of Representatives, where Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case, both Hawai'i Democrats, are awaiting the outcome in the Senate.
Some Native Hawaiians who oppose the bill said what has happened here over the past few days should be another warning to Hawaiians against seeking relief from the U.S. government.
"Our position is we can't trust the whole colonial establishment because it dominates and exploits and subjugates us," said Kekuni Blaisdell, a sovereignty activist. "Self-determination means we decide. With the Akaka bill, the government has already decided for us."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, July 22, 2005
Lobbying efforts hitting the wall
Hawaii's senators say they are getting the runaround as they push the Akaka Bill
By Richard Borreca
WASHINGTON » Hawaii Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka say Republican opponents have been playing something akin to a game of keep-away with the so-called Akaka Bill.
"What is happening now is called a rolling hold. You put on a hold today, and I talk to you and then you take off the hold and then someone else puts on a hold," Inouye said.
"I'm not suggesting this is a conspiracy, but ..." Inouye said.
Akaka added that he also thought "it appears to be an organized effort."
Akaka spent a fruitless day yesterday searching for Republican Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who had pledged to bring the native Hawaiian recognition and sovereignty bill to the Senate floor for a vote.
With only days left before the Senate goes on a one-month recess, Akaka waited for Frist on the Senate floor, left messages with his office and spent hours last night awaiting Frist's return for a vote.
"I was unable to speak with Sen. Frist, who unexpectedly did not come to the last vote," Akaka said in a release late last night.
"I learned that the majority leader left on a trip and will not be returning to the Capitol tomorrow or Monday. Although I am disappointed, I am making every effort to reach him by phone tonight and throughout the weekend," Akaka said.
The message Akaka wanted to deliver was that if Frist could not bring the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005 to the floor for a vote, he and Inouye would file a motion for cloture, a process to force a floor vote.
Inouye says he is willing to file the motion as early as today, but in an afternoon meeting Inouye and Akaka agreed they would wait until Akaka could talk with Frist.
Akaka says he has "exhausted" efforts to discuss the sovereignty bill with Republican opponents and wants Frist to honor a pledge made in October to "employ our best efforts to bring to the Senate floor a native Hawaiian bill."
"I have stopped talking to the members on the other side. ... I am going to leave it in the hands of the leader," Akaka said in an afternoon interview.
Earlier, Akaka said, he talked to Frist, who said he was having problems getting agreement.
"I asked him, 'Well, what are you going to do about that?'" Akaka said.
Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., who was born in Hawaii and attended Punahou School, said he thinks the bill would pass if it came to the floor for a vote, but noted that the senators who object are not being explicit with Akaka about their concerns.
"There may just be philosophical concerns on the part of these senators that I think may be misguided," Obama said.
Obama added that he thought Hawaii's Republican Gov. Linda Lingle should continue to lobby GOP senators for support.
Lingle, who spent three days in Washington lobbying on the bill, said she supports Akaka's and Inouye's efforts.
"I think it's clear, though, on this, as far as the procedures the Senate uses, we really have to rely on Sens. Inouye and Akaka to bring this forward. This is their arena; they understand it best. They've worked with these people for decades now, and they're going to have to call on all of that to try to move this to the floor, and we're going to support any way we can," Lingle said in Honolulu.
Senate objections have ranged from Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., who expressed concerned about a native Hawaiian government being able one day to create casinos in Hawaii, to others who say native Americans already have rights not extended to other Americans.
What should not be forgotten, Lingle added, was that the Senate leaders made a promise to have the bill up for a vote.
"I think it all comes back to the commitment that was made to bring it to a vote," Lingle said.
Rick Castberg, chairman of the political science department at the University of Hawaii-Hilo, said the prospects do not look good for the Akaka Bill this year "because there's a Supreme Court nominee to work on, and that's got priority."
"I'm not sure why there's the urgency on the Akaka Bill other than the fact that it's been lying around for about five years in one form or another," Castberg said Wednesday.
"Given some of the objections to it, the criticisms to it and some of the suggested amendments, it seems to me it might be advantageous to take the time to sit down and carefully answer all of the objections ... and get the bill in a form that's going to be acceptable to at least the majority, rather than keep putting something up that's marginal in the sense of acceptability and then getting disappointed about it."
Bringing cloture to the Akaka Bill
Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, has threatened to file a motion of cloture to bring the Akaka Bill to the Senate floor.
WHAT IS IT? Cloture is a process to close debate and force a vote in the U.S. Senate. It was first adopted as part of the Senate Rules in 1917.
WHY IS IT USED? The Senate in almost all circumstances allows its members to debate issues as long as they want, and there are few ways to limit even the duration of debates.
HOW IS IT USED? At least 16 senators sign a petition or motion for cloture. The motion is then read. It must remain for one full day. For instance, if the motion is filed on a Monday, it is not acted upon until Wednesday.
WHAT HAPPENS THEN? One hour after convening and after a quorum is established, the Senate votes on the motion of cloture.
HOW MANY VOTES ARE NEEDED? A total of 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture. Then the Senate has 30 hours of discussion or debate on the matter. The measure is then voted upon.
Source: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, July 22, 2005
Kyl should urge Akaka Bill vote
As many as six senators are standing in the way of the Hawaiian sovereignty bill reaching the Senate floor.
ARIZONA Sen. Jon Kyl struck a deal last year to drop his procedural freeze on the Hawaiian sovereignty bill and allow its outcome to be determined by the full Senate. However, his last-minute circulation of material objecting to the bill has led to other Republican senators erecting similar barriers. To honor the spirit of his pledge, Kyl should urge his colleagues to allow an up-and-down Senate vote on the Akaka Bill similar to the consideration Kyl and others have demanded for judiciary nominees.
Kyl had put a hold on the Akaka Bill since the last session of Congress. When Sens. Akaka and Inouye threatened to torpedo legislation dear to Kyl by attaching the Akaka Bill as an amendment, Kyl and Majority Leader Bill Fritz agreed to bring the sovereignty bill to the Senate floor by Aug. 7 of this year. Kyl has stepped aside, and Fritz said as recently as this week that the bill would soon be brought to the Senate floor.
However, Senate rules allow any member to put a hold on the bill, and as many as six have done so in the past few days. The obstruction movement followed the June 22 distribution of a lengthy and inflammatory treatise in opposition to the bill by the Senate's Republican Policy Committee, chaired by Kyl.
Kyl distributed a harsh response on Tuesday to a written defense of the bill by Gov. Lingle and Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett. Neither of the bashings distributed by Kyl suggested that the bill should reach the floor.
One of the new obstructionists is Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., apparently reacting to Kyl's warning that the Akaka Bill "leaves open the possibility" that the native Hawaiian governing body could "conduct gambling activities free from state or federal interference." The bill is intended to disallow commercial gambling activities by the Hawaiians' governing body.
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Friday, July 22, 2005
Akaka: Time to get tough with Senate
by Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group
WASHINGTON -- Hawaii's senators on Thursday decided the time had come to end negotiations and deliver an ultimatum for Republican leaders to move forward on a federal recognition bill for Native Hawaiians.
Sens. Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye concluded in a strategy meeting that four days of one-on-one negotiations with the bill's critics had done little to stamp out an informal filibuster.
Akaka said he planned to tell Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., that Democrats would move to force action on the bill if Frist did not do so himself. But Frist departed early for the weekend.
"I learned that the Majority Leader left on a trip and will not be returning to the Capitol tomorrow or Monday," Akaka said in a statement. "Although I am disappointed, I am making every effort to reach him by phone tonight and throughout the weekend."
According to aides, Akaka planned to notify Frist before beginning what could be a controversial legislative procedure to bring the Hawaiian measure up for debate as early as Tuesday.
Hawaii senators plan to file a motion for cloture, a tactic for ending a filibuster on a bill. They would like to file cloture Friday in order to open debate next week, Akaka spokeswoman Donalyn Dela Cruz said.
If the senators can garner 60 votes, cloture would require 30 hours of debate on the Hawaiian bill. Next week is the Senate's final week before summer recess. Inouye said this week he has 60 votes to invoke cloture.
Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said the leader "has been working to bring this bill to the floor."
"There are scheduling challenges, but he is very mindful of his commitment to bring this bill to the floor," Call said.
Republican leaders last October promised to bring the Hawaiian recognition bill to the Senate floor before August 7. Debate was set to begin Monday, but at least six Republican senators have blocked the bill for varying reasons.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada questioned Frist's priorities.
"He has given us his word ... when is that going to take place," Reid said Thursday.
Reid spokeswoman Tessa Hafen said the Democratic leader would support Akaka's strategy.
"The preference would be for Senator Frist to keep his word but if he's not going to keep that commitment Democrats would have no choice but to file cloture," Hafen said. "We're running out of time."
The bill would pave the way for 400,000 Native Hawaiians to form their own government and seek recognition from the federal government. As part of the process, Hawaiians could negotiate with state and federal governments over land, civil and criminal jurisdictions and other rights.
Critics have said the measure would expand gambling, subject the federal government to monetary and land claims, strip Native Hawaiians of their civil rights and endorse a "race-based" entity.
Bill supporters showed up to the Capitol this week from Hawaii to lobby for final passage. Gov. Linda Lingle and Hawaii Attorney General Mark Bennett visited with Republican senators and White House staff. Eight of the nine trustees from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs traveled to Washington to witness the debate on the Senate floor.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Saturday, July 23, 2005
Struggle to push Akaka Bill to vote continues
Akaka says the Senate leadership is working to fulfill its agreement
By Richard Borreca
WASHINGTON » Negotiations between Hawaii's Democratic senators and the Republican majority are expected to continue this weekend to maneuver a native Hawaiian sovereignty bill through a roadblock for a Senate vote next week.
Supporters predict that the so-called Akaka Bill, S. 147, has enough votes for passage, but some Republican senators have delayed putting it up for a vote.
Yesterday, Sen. Daniel Akaka said he was able to discuss the issue with Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., majority leader, who promised last year to bring the bill to a floor vote by August.
Akaka said Frist "assured me he wants to meet their commitment to have the bill heard and will work on reaching an agreement this weekend."
"I am pleased that leadership wants to keep their commitment, and look forward to beginning debate," Akaka said.
In a statement issued by Bob Stevenson, Frist's communication director, Frist said he was working on the issue.
"The majority leader continues to work with colleagues to resolve outstanding issues regarding S. 147 ... for its timely consideration in the Senate," Stevenson said.
While those negotiations go on in the Senate, GOP Gov. Linda Lingle announced yesterday in Honolulu that she had received a letter from Republican Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole promising support for the Akaka Bill.
The Cole letter was also sent to the GOP House leaders, Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., and Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, asking for consideration of the bill.
"As conservatives we should allow the people of Hawaii to manage their affairs as they see fit. I urge you to allow the timely consideration of this important, historic and long-overdue piece of legislation," Cole wrote.
It was unclear how much influence Cole's letter would have with fellow Republicans.
The House version of the Akaka Bill, H.R. 309, is being heard in committee. It currently has only one Republican among its seven co-sponsors, Rep. Don Young of Alaska.
Lingle, who met earlier this week with Cole during her trip to Washington, said she is relying on Akaka and Inouye to move the Akaka Bill to the Senate floor.
"They know the procedures the Senate uses, and they've worked with these people for decades. Now is the time to call on all of their years of experience to move this to the floor while we continue to assist them in any way we can," Lingle said.
Akaka and Inouye are hoping to either get the bill scheduled for a vote next week or to force a vote by getting 60 Democrats and Republicans to move the bill to the floor.
On Thursday, Lingle said she was "cautiously optimistic" that the Senate version of the bill would still get debated and voted on before Congress adjourns next month for its month-long summer break.
"I see it in perspective of the past few years that we've been working on this -- this is as close as we've ever been in getting it voted on in the Senate," Lingle said.
Akaka hosts Hawaii-style tailgate for D.C. game
By Richard Borreca
WASHINGTON » For former Hawaii residents, last night was a chance to eat rice, lomilomi and kalua pig at a tailgate party at ... RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.
Darlene Kehaulani Butts and Rowena Kuulei Freeman run Makakoa Enterprises, specializing in "island-style" catering in Washington and Maryland.
"Mostly we do luaus and weddings. There is a huge community of Hawaiians on the East Coast," Butts said.
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka and his staff coordinated the tailgate party for about 150 former Hawaii residents before the Washington Nationals Major League Baseball game at RFK Stadium yesterday.
Akaka, wearing a lei, threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the game against the Houston Astros. The Nationals lost 14 to 1.
The game featured "Aloha Friday" promotions that helped to make it a near sellout.
One baseball fan selected at random won a five-day trip to Honolulu with a stay at the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Resort.
Before the night game, fans were entertained by hula dancers and musicians from Halau Hoomau I ka Wai Ola O Hawaii, a halau based in Virginia. The event was sponsored by the Nationals, Expedia.com and the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau.
Tailgaters included Tom Penland, who graduated from Radford High School and is now president of the Hawaii State Society.
"We like to party and get together with other people from Hawaii. On Wednesday night we have ukulele lessons at my house, and in October we have a hoolaulea," Penland said.
"There are a lot of people from Hawaii because so many come here from the military or federal jobs," said Trippi Penland, who graduated from Punahou School.
** photo and caption and comment **
U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka threw the ceremonial first pitch before the Washington Nationals' game against the Houston Astros yesterday.
** Comment by Ken Conklin: Senator Akaka's T-shirt has an emblem which is the Hawaiian flag. That is the flag of the State of Hawai'i, but also of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. Showing the Hawaiian flag alone, without the U.S. flag, as Senator Akaka is doing in this photo, is a highly charged political "statement" in Hawai'i. The political statement is that Hawai'i was an independent nation and should become an independent nation again. The issue of the Akaka bill leading to secession has already been raised in Republican opposition to this bill, and Senator Akaka's own language in speeches fuels that fire. See a webpage on how the Akaka bill contributes to the secession of Hawai'i, at:
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Saturday, July 23, 2005
Akaka Bill to face new obstacles in U.S. House
by Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group
WASHINGTON -- While Hawaii senators struggled to make progress on a Native Hawaiian bill this week, more potential obstacles began taking shape elsewhere on Capitol Hill.
A small group of House lawmakers began organizing opposition to the Hawaiian effort, which they contend would create an unconstitutional race-based government.
"It seems to me this is an issue that has been below the radar in the House," said Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. "I don't think anybody has examined the constitutional aspect of this."
The bill would allow 400,000 Native Hawaiians to form a government and seek recognition from the federal government similar to the status awarded American Indians and Alaska Natives.
King was gathering signatures on a draft letter this week that questions creating a entity limited to members of Hawaiian ancestry. He said his interest in the matter stems not only from the Constitution but also his personal religious beliefs.
"God created us all in his image and he draws no distinction between us," King said. "I think it's an affront to God to draw distinctions among us based on image."
In addition, King questioned whether a Native Hawaiian government could disrupt U.S. military operations, promote gambling, file lawsuits against the federal government, and deplete American Indian federal accounts.
King's concerns echoed those in the Senate where critics have blocked a Hawaiian recognition bill. At least six senators placed "holds" on the bill, delaying a much-anticipated debate on the measure.
In a bid to counter what seemed to be growing opposition, Hawaii Reps. Ed Case and Neil Abercrombie enlisted help from Rep. Tom Cole, a conservative Republican from Oklahoma.
Cole authored a letter arguing that Native Hawaiians should be given an equal opportunity to qualify for federal recognition as do Native American tribes.
"It is important to recognize that the establishment of the Native Hawaiian government is not about race; it is about sovereignty," Cole wrote. "In addition, tribal membership is based on conditions set by the governing body, not race alone."
But other House members fear Native Hawaiian sovereignty could damage race relations in Hawaii, and they plan to be vocal about it.
"We certainly intend to weigh in and to speak out," said Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio. Chabot, a subcommittee chairman, convened a hearing last week on the bill that focused on its constitutionality.
"Our colleagues in the House should get the big picture," Chabot said.
Hawaii's allies plan to be equally vocal in support of Native Hawaiians, Case said.
"I think for us on the House side, it is essentially education of those who are interested and containment of those who are being urged to oppose this," Case said.
"Anytime you get close to a vote in either the House or Senate that's the time increased attention is paid to any bill," Case said. "So that's when you can expect the opposition to step up its efforts."
In the Senate, the Hawaiian recognition bill remained on the back burner into the weekend while senators debated defense programs.
Angry that Republicans were rushing through the defense bill, Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada suggested the Senate set aside the debate until after the month-long congressional recess in August.
Reid noted that Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., had promised Akaka and Inouye that the Hawaiian bill would be brought to the floor.
Frist, who was traveling in California, issued a statement Friday through his spokesman.
"The majority leader continues to work with colleagues to resolve outstanding issues regarding the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act for its timely consideration in the Senate," Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said.
Hawaii senators had threatened to file a cloture petition Friday that would force votes on the bill early next week. But Akaka said he held off after receiving assurances that Frist would keep his promise.
"I am pleased that leadership wants to keep their commitment and look forward to beginning debate," Akaka said in a statement.
The Senate delay leaves little, if any, time for the House to consider the measure before the Congress departs on its month-long recess Friday.
** NOTE from website editor Ken Conklin: The language of the letter from House Republicans to Speaker Hastert and Majority Leader DeLay, and the names of some of the early signers of that letter, are available at:
Hawaii Leaders Scramble To Hold Akaka Bill Vote
POSTED: 9:58 am HST July 25, 2005
UPDATED: 5:27 pm HST July 25, 2005
HONOLULU -- The wheels in Washington were spinning Monday as Hawaii leaders make a big push for the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act on Capitol Hill.
The so-called Akaka Bill would give Native Hawaiians federal recognition just like Native Americans and Native Alaskans.
Sen. Daniel Akaka met with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.
Frist said that there may be an agreement worked out by Tuesday.
Akaka is trying to lift the hold put on the bill by six Republican senators. Some senators want language put into the bill that permanently bans gambling for a new Native Hawaiian government. It is something Akaka is unwilling to do.
If no agreement can be reached, Akaka can file a cloture petition. That's a procedural vote to end debate and force a floor vote. He would need the approval of 60 senators.
If the bill doesn't make it to the Senate floor by the end of the week, it will have to wait until after Congress comes back from recess in September.
From: Hawaii Nation Info
Date: Mon Jul 25, 2005
Subject: "Native Hawaiians' Fight for Sovereignty" live on NPR today
Talk of the Nation on National Public Radio
Monday, July 25, 2005
Live at 2:00 p.m. EDT from WAMU-FM 88.5 in D.C. (8:00 a.m. HST)
A move to mandate that native Hawaiians have the same rights of
self-government as American Indians and native Alaskans is meeting
resistance -- on Capitol Hill and in the islands. Neal Conan and
guests examine the controversy over sovereignty for native Hawaiians.
- Chad Blair, political reporter for Hawaii Public Radio; has
covered the Akaka Bill since its inception in 2002
- Daniel Akaka, Democratic U.S. Senator from Hawaii; introduced S.
147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005
- Howard Burgess, attorney in Honolulu; opposes the bill because he
feels it would establish a "race-based" nation; has argued in
opposition to this and other similar cases in court
- Keith Harper, attorney for the Native American Rights Fund
Call in phone number is (800) 989-8255.
In Hawaii, listen on KHPR 88.1 FM or Oceanic digital TV station CH 841
For other Hawaii station listings, see:
Outside of Hawaii, check your local NPR stations.
Audio for this story will be available at approx. 6:00 p.m. ET
NOTE FROM KEN CONKLIN: The "Hawaii Nation Info" announcement had the wrong time (the radio broadcast was actually one hour later than they announced), and an incorrect name (the Aloha For All president is attorney H. William Burgess). The audio link is correct, and the hour-long program can be downloaded from that link for at least a few weeks.
Honolulu Advertiser, Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Akaka may force vote on bill
By Dennis Camire
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Sen. Daniel K. Akaka continues today to pursue a procedure to force a vote on the Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill in the Senate if Republican leaders fail to remove roadblocks keeping it from debate this week.
Akaka, D-Hawai'i, also said he spoke yesterday with Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., who believes an agreement can be reached with Republican opponents blocking the bill to bring it up for debate and vote before the Senate's monthlong recess, now scheduled to begin Aug. 1.
"I am pursuing both tracks of actions because I intend to make sure that (the bill) is considered this week," Akaka said.
The bill would create a process for Native Hawaiians to form their own government, and had been expected to come up for debate last week.
Frist and other Republican leaders committed last year to schedule a debate and vote by Aug. 7 but have been thwarted by other Republican senators who object to the bill for various reasons, including the possibility that it would allow Native Hawaiians to become involved with gambling one day.
Akaka and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawai'i, have said they would use the procedure known as cloture if no other way could be found to get the bill to the floor. Cloture, which needs 60 votes to be successful, would trigger 30 hours of debate that essentially halts other Senate business.
Earlier yesterday in an interview with National Public Radio's "Talk of Nation," Akaka said he is continuing negotiations with the Republican opponents but didn't sound hopeful.
"They are seeking changes in (the bill) that we cannot agree to and they are seeking language changes that we cannot agree to," he said.
Akaka also said negotiations are ongoing with the White House, which had also raised concerns about the bill. Those issues involve the time allowed for monetary claims by Hawaiians, the prohibition on gambling, the makeup of the panel certifying who would be part of a Native Hawaiian government and the possible interference with U.S. military operations.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Akaka pursues 2 tracks to get bill to Senate floor
He speaks again with Majority Leader Frist to mo
By Richard Borreca
Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka is again threatening to force a vote on the long-stalled native Hawaiian sovereignty bill.
Akaka and fellow Democratic Sen. Daniel Inouye had expected to debate the bill on the Senate floor last week, but it has been blocked by Republican senators.
Yesterday, Akaka said he talked again with Senate Majority Leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., to move the bill.
A spokeswoman for Akaka said yesterday, "Sen. Akaka spoke with Majority Leader Bill Frist, who believes an agreement to proceed to the bill can be worked out by tomorrow."
Akaka, who said Friday that he would file a motion of cloture Monday, said he would file the motion today to move the bill for a floor vote.
"I am pursuing both tracks of action because I intend to make sure that (Senate Bill) 147 is considered this week," Akaka said.
He had said he had a deal with Senate Republicans for the bill to come to the floor for debate. He spent last week and the weekend trying to maneuver the measure through the roadblock.
Gov. Linda Lingle, who also lobbied for the bill last week while in Washington, said yesterday she still thinks it would pass if it got to the floor.
"Really, the effort now has to come from the senators themselves, and I know that Sen. Akaka is working very hard and I'm sure Sen. Inouye is as well," Lingle said.
"It's now their challenge to try to get it to the floor for a vote, and I remain confident that if it gets to the floor, we'll win the vote. It's just getting it there right now," she added.
West Hawaii Today (Kona), Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Republicans pledge consideration in Senate
by Samantha Young
Stephens Media Group
WASHINGTON -- Hawaii senators said they secured a new pledge from Republican leaders on Tuesday to begin formal Senate consideration of a Native Hawaiian bill this week, although debate will not take place until September.
The arrangement comes after more than a week of delays and objections by opponents, who have thwarted Hawaii leaders from advancing a Native Hawaiian recognition bill. The Senate is scheduled to recess for summer break at the end of the week.
"This is the best thing we can do at this time," said Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, who announced the new deal after a 45-minute meeting in the office of Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn.
Sens. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, also attended the closed-door meeting. Kyl opposes legislation giving Native Hawaiians self governing rights, but had been working at Frist's request to bring the bill to the Senate floor for debate.
At least six senators have blocked the bill for varying reasons, including concerns about gambling, American Indian funding and whether it might violate the Constitution by granting formal recognition to a racial group.
At the meeting, Kyl informed the Hawaii senators he was unable to persuade critics to let the bill reach the floor.
Now, Frist will file a cloture petition to end the informal filibuster and get the gears moving, Akaka said.
"We all agreed to file a cloture and force members to vote on this," Akaka said.
Asked if he were happy with the new deal, Akaka said, "Yes because we're getting commitments on time, and no because I was hoping we'd be able to do it all before we went home" for the month of August.
Exactly how the recognition bill will be handled on the floor is still being worked out, officials said.
Akaka said Frist could file a cloture petition as early as Wednesday. Under that scenario, senators would take an initial procedural vote on the bill Saturday -- if the Senate extends its session into the weekend.
Substantive debate on the bill would take place September when Congress returns after Labor Day from its summer recess.
If Frist does not file for cloture on Wednesday, all proceedings would be held off until September, aides said. Two days are required before the Senate can act on a cloture petition.
A Frist spokeswoman said the petition likely would be filed at the end of the week.
"The Leader, Sens. Akaka and Inouye, and their colleagues on both sides of this issue had a productive meeting, but clearly were unable to work out substantive challenges between Hawaii's senators and the bill's opponents before the recess," Frist spokeswoman Amy Call said. "So in the absence of that, we will likely need to file cloture on the motion to proceed at week's end for a vote when the Senate returns. "
A Saturday vote could be risky because many senators will be absent, Akaka said. The cloture petition would need 60 votes to claim floor time for the Hawaiian measure.
Still, a Saturday vote would put the pressure on the Justice Department to negotiate outstanding concerns with the bill, Akaka said.
"They haven't had an impetus to work with us," an Akaka aide said.
Earlier in the day, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, who supports the bill, predicted Hawaii senators could garner Republican votes they would need to reach 60 and move the bill forward. Republicans control the Senate with 55 seats.
"I know that a promise had been made to try to get this legislation to the floor," Murkowski said. "We've been working very hard with Sen. Akaka to try to facilitate that."
Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., continued to push for an amendment that would ban any gaming by Native Hawaiians. While Hawaii senators said they are opposed to legalized gambling, they said Native Hawaiians should be allowed to run casinos if the state ever chose to legalize games of chance.
"He's still working to find acceptable language," Ensign spokesman Jack Finn said.
University of Hawaii at Hilo political science professor Rick Castberg said delaying the bill until after the August recess would give Hawaii lawmakers more time to address critics.
"A lot of questions have been raised by senators that need to be answered before this bill can be voted on," Castberg said. "It's maybe that this recess, they can work out their differences."
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Friday, July 29, 2005
Akaka expects September floor vote
By Richard Borreca
The U.S. Senate will not vote on a native Hawaiian recognition bill until September, acknowledged Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka after pushing for a vote the past two weeks.
In an interview yesterday, Democrat Akaka said he was still waiting for Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist to file a motion of cloture to bring the so-called Akaka Bill to the floor for a vote.
Timing for a cloture motion is running out. Akaka said that if the motion is filed today, it would not be discussed until the Senate's return from its August recess after Labor Day.
Akaka has been unable to speed up debate on the bill. A group of six senators have placed holds on the bill, which stops it from coming to the floor for a vote. To go around the holds, Akaka has had to resort to the cloture motion.
After meeting with Frist yesterday, Akaka said he had a new promise.
"I thought he was going to do it Tuesday or Wednesday, and he didn't do it and here it is Thursday.
"I asked him, 'Are you planning on doing it?' and he said before we break for the August recess, he is going to file the motion," Akaka said.
The next step would then be for Akaka to persuade 60 senators to go along with the cloture motion and allow debate on the bill.
Debate would be for 30 hours, and then a final vote on the bill would be held. The bill would then go to the House.
Akaka has said he is sure the bill has 51 senators who support it, and also thinks he will be able to muster the 60 votes needed.
Akaka figures the month of August will give him extra time to lobby other senators and also conclude negotiations between the Justice Department, the White House and supporters.
In Hawaii, Gov. Linda Lingle, who also supports the bill, said she expects the bill will move in September.
"I am fairly optimistic that a vote will take place in September and we will have the votes to pass it," Lingle said.
After spending time last week in Washington personally lobbying the bill in the Senate, Lingle says she is expecting Akaka and Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel Inouye to continue pushing.
"I am not that experienced with how the Senate operates. Sens. Akaka and Inouye sort of feel this is the normal process of things. They don't seem too surprised by any of it.
"I think September is a good time. It gives us this month to talk to people about the information that has come out about this bill," Lingle said.
Observers such as Davianna McGregor, University of Hawaii professor of ethnic studies, say the Akaka Bill has become caught up in a national effort to challenge the rights of American Indians and Alaska natives.
The bill would define a process for the federal government to recognize a native Hawaiian government.
"The education effort has to be aimed at those senators who are uninformed or are on the borderline," McGregor said.
A supporter of the Akaka Bill, Charles Maxwell, said he has been working on a Hawaiian reparations measure since 1970.
"The senators in Washington don't get it; they just don't get it," Maxwell said.
Opponents of the bill in Washington say they have concerns about native Hawaiians being able to operate casinos either in Hawaii or on the mainland on land purchased by a native Hawaiian nation.
KITV 4 ("The Hawaii Channel")
Majority Leader Moves To Force Debate On Akaka Bill
POSTED: 2:41 pm HST July 29, 2005
HONOLULU -- Republican Majority Leader Bill Frist has acted on a motion to force debate on the Native Hawaiian Recognition Act, Sen. Daniel Akaka said.
Frist laid down the cloture petition Friday. A vote on the cloture petition is scheduled for Sept. 6. Sixty senators must agree to allow debate on the bill to go forward. If they agree, the motion would ensure debate and a vote on the so-called Akaka bill.
The bill would give Native Hawaiians federal recognition just like Native Americans and Native Alaskans. The governor, the state Legislature and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs support the bill.
Since Congress leaves for its monthlong recess as soon as it finishes business Friday night, there won't be any action on the bill until September.
Six Republican senators put a hold the bill. Some senators want language put into the bill that permanently bans gambling for a new Native Hawaiian government. It is something Akaka is unwilling to do.
Akaka has been pushing for a floor vote on the Akaka Bill for the past two weeks. Both he and Sen. Daniel Inouye said they're disappointed the bill didn't have a chance to get to the floor before the recess. However, they said they were pleased that Frist acted on the cloture petition.
Honolulu Advertiser, Saturday, July 30, 2005
Senate acts to move Akaka bill
By Dennis Camire
Advertiser Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., started a procedure yesterday that could eventually force a debate and floor vote on the Native Hawaiian federal recognition bill in September.
The next step in the process, known as cloture, will occur on Sept. 6, when the first vote will be held on a petition to bring the bill to the floor for debate. To be successful, 60 senators will have to vote in favor of the cloture motion.
That would start 30 hours of debate before a final vote on the bill itself, which would create a process for Native Hawaiians to form their own government. Fifty-one senators would have to support the bill in order for it to pass.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawai'i, for whom the bill is named as its lead sponsor, took to the Senate floor immediately after the cloture motion was filed yesterday, urging support for the petition.
"After five years, the people of Hawai'i deserve to have this issue considered by the Senate," Akaka said. "If you oppose the bill, then vote against it, but give us the opportunity to debate the merits of the bill."
The Akaka bill was originally scheduled for debate and vote last week, but as many as six Republican senators put holds on the legislation, objecting for various reasons including the possibility it could allow Native Hawaiians to eventually become involved with gambling.
"While I was disappointed that floor action did not occur on the bill this month, progress is obviously being made on its consideration," said Sen. Dan Inouye, D-Hawai'i, a co-sponsor. "I look forward to the robust and open discussions that will occur during the consideration of this legislation."
In addition to Frist, Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., the chief opponent of the bill, was among the 17 senators who signed the cloture petition to bring the bill to the floor. They and other Republican leaders had made a commitment last year to schedule a debate on a vote by Aug. 7, but were blocked by the objections.
The bill's supporters may already be near the 60-vote requirement to bring it to the floor. They expect all 44 Democrats to vote for debate along with the Senate's one independent, Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont.
The measure also has five Republican co-sponsors — Sens. Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Gordon Smith of Oregon, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Norm Coleman of Minnesota. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., also has said he would vote for the bill.
In addition to Frist and Kyl, other Republicans signing the petition were Sens. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Charles Grassley of Iowa.
That could mean there already are 56 votes in favor of forcing the bill to the floor on Sept. 6.
Haunani Apoliona, chairwoman of the board of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, said she remains optimistic the bill will pass. "The important thing to remember is that the bill is very much alive and the votes are there to pass this historic legislation when the Senate next meets," she said in a prepared release.
While OHA trustees had hoped a vote would be held last week, "we're prepared to come back in September for a final vote," Apoliona said.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Saturday, July 30, 2005
Motion filed to push Akaka Bill to vote
The move needs the support of 60 senators in September
By Richard Borreca
Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka says he can now mark his calendar with the scheduled debate of a native Hawaiian recognition bill after "we have struggled for five years to bring this bill to the floor."
Late yesterday, Republican Majority leader Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., filed a motion of cloture, which could bring the bill up for a floor vote in September.
The next hurdle will be at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 6, when 60 senators must vote to invoke cloture, a legislative maneuver that forces the bill up for a vote.
"I urge all of my colleagues to support the petition to invoke cloture. After five years the people of Hawaii deserve to have this issue considered by the Senate," Akaka said in a Senate floor speech after Frist filed the motion.
Akaka has said he has the 51 votes needed to pass the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2005, commonly referred to as the Akaka Bill, and he also thinks he has the 60 votes needed for cloture. There are 44 Democrats in the Senate, so Akaka will need GOP help to move the bill.
To block even a floor debate, several Republican senators have placed holds on the bill that, according to Senate tradition, stop a bill from going to the floor for a vote.
Akaka stressed that it is fine if senators want to oppose the native Hawaiian recognition bill, but that it should be given a chance to be debated.
"If you oppose the bill, then vote against it, but give us the opportunity to debate the merits of this bill.
"Unfortunately, there are some in this body who do not even want to allow us to debate this issue. I ask them to carefully consider their position over the August recess," Akaka said.
"While I respect their ability to use Senate procedure to prevent us from considering this measure, I do not agree with their tactics," he said.
Hawaii's senior Sen. Daniel Inouye also welcomed the move by Frist, but said he wished it had come earlier.
"While I was disappointed that floor action did not occur on the bill this month, progress is obviously being made on its consideration. I look forward to the robust and open discussions that will occur during the consideration of this legislation," Inouye said.
The Senate adjourned yesterday for its annual August recess and will not return to work until noon Sept. 6.
Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustees, who have been in Washington for two weeks awaiting action on the Akaka Bill, are returning to Hawaii but said they are encouraged that the bill now has a chance of Senate approval this fall.
"The important thing to remember is that the bill is very much alive, and the votes are there to pass this historic legislation when the Senate next meets," said Haunani Apoliona, OHA chairwoman.
"We had hopes the senators would stick to earlier commitments to have a debate and up-or-down vote this past week, but we understand this is how the system works and we're prepared to come back in September for a final vote," she said.
Opponents of the Akaka Bill argue that it is race-based and unconstitutional. Senate Republicans have also raised concerns that it could affect federal programs for mainland American Indians and could lead to legal gambling in Hawaii, which the bill's proponents dispute.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sunday, July 31, 2005
On Politics [** political commentary **]
Struggle over Akaka Bill tests senator’s tenacity
Something about Hawaii's Sen. Daniel Kahikina Akaka just makes people want to hug him, if for no other reason than as a pre-emptive move, because he's probably going to hug you first.
Serving as a genial and affable ambassador of Hawaii, Akaka has fashioned a reputation in Washington as that oddest of creatures: a politician who is a nice guy.
If Dale Carnegie could package Akaka's way of thanking you for taking the time to see him, business and political success would be assured.
But this year Akaka, the warm and amiable 29-year U.S. House and Senate veteran, launches his toughest campaign -- defending the native Hawaiian federal recognition bill on the floor of the Senate.
Just getting the bill to the floor has been a difficult task. Akaka, 80, who has spent years building bridges, ran into a solid wall of opposition. At times this month, the roadblocks appeared to stun Akaka, who takes great pride in developing strong relationships with both Democrats and Republicans.
Upon returning from a Senate floor session where he learned that not two but actually six senators had placed holds on his native Hawaiian sovereignty bill, Akaka appeared almost at a loss for words.
As he sought to explain that the opposition "will not let us go forward," Akaka searched for some way to express his frustration and his resolve without offending his Senate colleagues.
Akaka's colleague, Sen. Dan Inouye, is able to marvel at the intricate if not treacherous ways of Senate politics, while Akaka appears to feel a genuine appreciation for every senator doing the right thing.
In the coming month, however, the bill's fate will rest with Akaka.
Responsibility has been a shared chore, with politicians being careful to butter up the partisan opposition. Republican Governor Lingle, for instance, while working her side of the aisle for the bill, carefully notes that Democrats Akaka and Inouye have the experience and contacts needed.
Akaka and Inouye thank Lingle, but point out that she is a Republican, the president is a Republican, and if she could just get him to support the Akaka Bill then the measure would sprout wings.
Next month Akaka will have to convince his colleagues that the Akaka Bill does not set up a race-based government, will not permit gambling in Hawaii and will not confer extraordinary rights on native Hawaiians, as critics charge.
And then Akaka will be point man for the ensuing debate in September. It is a big order for a fellow who is more comfortable working out of the spotlight.
Those who know Akaka as warm and affable, however, are forgetting that other adjective used to describe him: tenacious.
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, U.S. SENATE, JULY 29, 2005, EXCERPTS PERTAINING TO S.147 HAWAIIAN GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION BILL, CLOTURE PETITION AND BRIEF SPEECH BY SENATOR AKAKA (no permanent URL is possible for Congressional record pages, because the number of pages and the number of inquiries is so enormous that the Library of Congress website offers only temporary URLs valid for about 15 minutes)
NATIVE HAWAIIAN GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION ACT OF 2005--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - July 29, 2005)
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I now move to proceed to Calendar No. 101, S. 147, the Native Hawaiians bill, and I send a cloture motion to the desk.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to Calendar No. 101, S. 147: A bill to express the policy of the United States regarding the United States relationship with Native Hawaiians and to provide a process for the recognition by the United States of the Native Hawaiian governing entity.
Bill Frist, Jon Kyl, Gordon Smith, Orrin Hatch, Lincoln Chafee, Chuck Grassley, Lindsey Graham, Norm Coleman, Daniel Inouye, Daniel K. Akaka, Patrick Leahy, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Patty Murray, Jack Reed, Dianne Feinstein, Herb Kohl.
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I am happy to yield to the Senator from Hawaii for a comment on the Native Hawaiians bill.
Mr. AKAKA. Mr. President, I thank the Majority Leader. I rise today to express my thanks to the Majority Leader for laying down the cloture petition on the motion to proceed to S. 147. As many of my colleagues are aware, I have worked closely with Hawaii's senior senator to bring the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act to the Senate floor for debate and vote. We have struggled for five years to bring this bill to the floor.
I applaud the Majority Leader and the Democratic Leader for their efforts to uphold a commitment that was made last year for a debate and vote on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act prior to the August recess. While I am very disappointed that we were not able to consider the bill, I look forward to action on S. 147 when we return in September.
This is a bipartisan bill which is widely supported in Hawaii. The bill is supported by Hawaii's Governor, Linda Lingle, the first Republican governor in Hawaii in 40 years, who testified in strong support of the bill before the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. The bill is also supported by the Hawaii State Legislature which passed resolutions in support of the bill in 2000, 2001, and 2005. The bill is cosponsored by Senators CANTWELL, COLEMAN, DODD, DORGAN, GRAHAM, INOUYE, MURKOWSKI, SMITH, and STEVENS. I want to especially thank the bill cosponsors who have actively worked with us to try to get this bill before the Senate.
S. 147 sets up a process for the reorganization of the Native Hawaiian governing entity for the purposes of a federally recognized government-to-government relationship. Congress has always treated Native Hawaiians in a manner similar to that of American Indians and Alaska Natives because of its recognition of Native Hawaiians as indigenous peoples.
Some have argued that Native Hawaiians are not native ``enough'' for a government-to-government relationship. There is no doubt that Native Hawaiians are indigenous to Hawaii. There is no doubt that Native Hawaiians exercised sovereignty over the Hawaiian archipelago. There is no doubt that Native Hawaiians had a governing structure and entered into treaties with the United States, similar to that of their American Indian and Alaska Native brethren.
Where we differ is that whereas most tribes have been allowed to retain their governing structure, Native Hawaiians, following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, were forbidden from maintaining their government. Native Hawaiians did, however, maintain distinct communities, and retained their language, customs, tradition, and culture despite efforts to extinguish these ``native'' practices.
The bill does not create a new relationship--Congress has long recognized its legal and political relationship with Native Hawaiians as evidenced by the many statutes enacted to address the conditions of Native Hawaiians. This bill does not create a new group of natives--we have always been here, in fact we were here before the United States. Rather, this bill establishes parity in federal policies towards native peoples in the United States by formally extending the federal policy of self-governance and self-determination to Native Hawaiians.
I look forward to a full and thorough debate on this bill in September. I urge all of my colleagues to support the petition to invoke cloture--after five years, the people of Hawaii deserve to have this issue considered by the Senate. If you oppose the bill, then vote against it, but give us the opportunity to debate the merits of this bill. Unfortunately, there are some in this body who do not even want to allow us to debate this issue. I ask them to carefully consider their position over the August recess. While I respect their ability to use Senate procedure to prevent us from considering this measure, I do not agree with their tactics. I believe the people of Hawaii deserve more than that--we deserve a full debate and up or down vote on this bill.
Once again, I thank the Majority and Democratic leaders for working with us to bring this issue before the Senate for its consideration.
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, through the Chair, I thank the distinguished Senator from Hawaii.
I ask unanimous consent that notwithstanding rule XXII, this cloture vote occur at 5:30 on Tuesday, September 6, with the mandatory live quorum waived.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I withdraw my motion.
** Note from Ken Conklin: See rebuttal to Senator Akaka's speech, shortly below **
** In this section on the death tax repeal , note Senator Frist's closing paragraph regarding the Native Hawaiians bill **
DEATH TAX REPEAL PERMANENCY ACT OF 2005--MOTION TO PROCEED -- (Senate - July 29, 2005)
[Page: S9558] GPO's PDF
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I now move to proceed to Calendar No. 84, H.R. 8, the death tax repeal, and I send a cloture motion to the desk.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The cloture motion having been presented under rule XXII, the Chair directs the clerk to read the motion.
The legislative clerk read as follows:
We the undersigned Senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule XXII of the Standing Rules of the Senate, do hereby move to bring to a close debate on the motion to proceed to Calendar No. 84, H.R. 8: To make the repeal of the estate tax permanent.
Bill Frist, Jon Kyl, John Thune, James Inhofe, Lamar Alexander, Richard Burr, Pat Roberts, Christopher Bond, John E. Sununu, Michael B. Enzi, Johnny Isakson, Conrad Burns, Mike Crapo, Larry Craig, Elizabeth Dole, Rick Santorum, Richard G. Lugar.
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the mandatory live quorum be waived and that this vote occur immediately after the previously filed cloture motion, if not waived.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
Mr. FRIST. Mr. President, this procedure has now set a cloture vote on the motion to proceed to the Native Hawaiians legislation. That vote will occur at 5:30 on Tuesday when we return. If cloture is invoked, we will stay on that motion until it is disposed of. If cloture is not invoked, we will proceed to a vote on the cloture motion to proceed to the death tax.
ORDERS FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2005 -- (Senate - July 29, 2005)
Mr. FRIST. I ask unanimous consent that when the Senate completes its business today, it stand in adjournment under the provisions of H. Con. Res. 225 until 12 noon on Tuesday, September 6.
I further ask that following the prayer and the pledge, the morning hour be deemed expired, the Journal of proceedings be approved to date, the time for the two leaders be reserved, and there then be a period for morning business until 12:30, with Senators permitted to speak for up to 5 minutes each; provided further that the Senate stand in recess from 12:30 to 2:15 for weekly policy luncheons.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.
PROGRAM -- (Senate - July 29, 2005)
Mr. FRIST. We will return for business on Tuesday, September 6. We will be voting at 5:30. There could be two votes that evening on the previously filed cloture motion.
On Sunday, August 7, 2005 Constitutional law expert Bruce Fein published a rebuttal to Senator Akaka's floor speech above.
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Sunday, August 7, 2005
PERSPECTIVES ON THE AKAKA BILL
Senator made several mistakes in conception of race-based bill
People should be able to openly debate its merits, flaws
By Bruce Fein
Bruce Fein is an attorney, a columnist for the Washington Times and an adviser to the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii.
Sen. Daniel Akaka (D, Hawaii) is an honorable man. His intentions in championing the Akaka Bill to give birth to an exclusive Hawaiian governing entity operating outside the limitations of the U.S. Constitution are not sinister. But the senator's multiple mistakes in defending the creation of a race-based government disserve the goal of an enlightened political decision. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, let facts speak to a candid state and national audience.
On July 29, Akaka spoke on the floor of the Senate in support of a cloture motion to force a vote in September on his bill. His first mistake was asserting that the race-based legislation is "widely supported in Hawaii." Reasonably reliable polls taken by the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin (see "Editor's note" at end of column) indicate that the people of Hawaii are in opposition by a 2-1 margin or more. In contrast, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a vocal proponent of the legislation, refused to disclose the full results of its survey, a tacit concession of popular hesitation or reluctance to embrace a race-based government.
Akaka does not deny the clear evidence of popular rejection, but instead points to the support from Gov. Linda Lingle, three resolutions passed by the Democrat-dominated Hawaii state Legislature, and nine Senate co-sponsors, including five Republicans. Elected officials, however, regularly miscalculate public support. Consider, for example, the recent Terri Schiavo debacle of Congress and President George W. Bush. Akaka's adamant opposition to an amendment that would require a plebiscite in Hawaii as a condition to creating a racially exclusive native Hawaiian sovereign evidences his disbelief that the Akaka Bill is "widely supported."
Akaka's second mistake was in maintaining that Congress "has always treated native Hawaiians in a manner similar to that of American Indians and Alaska Natives because of its recognition of native Hawaiians as indigenous peoples." Congress never negotiated treaties with a native Hawaiian tribal authority (the Kingdom of Hawaii was treated as a foreign nation like France or Great Britain), and bestowed U.S. citizenship and constitutional protections on Hawaiians upon annexation in 1898 and the Hawaii Organic Act in 1900. American Indians were then non-citizens.
Akaka thus fell into a third mistake in declaring, "There is no doubt that native Hawaiians had a governing structure and entered into treaties with the United States, similar to that of their American Indian and Alaska Native brethren." From its inception in 1810 under King Kamehameha I, the Kingdom of Hawaii uniformly featured a common governing structure for native Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike. Both voted and served in the Legislature, executive and judiciary.
Akaka's fourth mistake was in insisting that "native Hawaiians, following the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, were forbidden from maintaining their government." The Hawaiian Kingdom was a government for all the people of Hawaii. It was not in the service of native Hawaiians alone. After the overthrow, a common sovereign for all the people continued under the republic, the territorial government and then statehood.
Akaka's fifth mistake was in declaring that non-native Hawaiians attempted to "extinguish" Hawaiian communities, customs, tradition and culture. Native Hawaiian monarchs abolished the kapu system and feudal land tenure. Native Hawaiians have never been treated as less than equal compared with non-native Hawaiians in the eyes of the law or in society. Intermarriage has been the norm. The U.S. Constitution since annexation has scrupulously protected Hawaiians like other groups in celebrating their traditions and culture. That is why Sen. Daniel Inouye (D, Hawaii) exuded on the 35th anniversary of statehood that "Hawaii remains one of the greatest examples of a multiethnic society living in relative peace."
Akaka's sixth mistake was in denying that his bill would create a "new relationship" between the federal government and native Hawaiians. That is the whole purpose of the legislation! Congress has never dealt with a race-based Hawaiian governing entity because none has ever existed. If a "new (sovereign) relationship" were not intended, the Akaka Bill would be superfluous, akin to pushing water downhill.
Akaka concluded his remarks by saluting "a full and thorough debate on this bill in September." The best way to honor that pledge would be to arrange for a series of debates in Hawaii before the people he has been tasked to represent. The First Amendment remedy for mistakes is more speech, not silence or evasiveness.
You may now
READ MORE ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE HAWAIIAN GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION BILL IN THE 109th CONGRESS (January 2005 through December 2006)
SEE MORE GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT THE HAWAIIAN RECOGNITION BILL (HAWAIIAN GOVERNMENT REORGANIZATION BILL)
GO BACK TO OTHER TOPICS ON THIS WEBSITE
(c) Copyright 2005 Kenneth R. Conklin, Ph.D. All rights reserved