President George W. Bush issued a formal statement on October 22, 2007 on official stationery strongly opposing the Akaka bill and saying that his senior advisors recommend he should veto it if it reaches his desk.
The House Rules Committee met on Monday October 22 at 5 PM to consider what procedural rule should be applied to the Akaka bill, H.R.505, expected to come to the House floor in the next couple of days. The Republican whip report last Friday indicated this bill would probably be placed on the "suspension calendar" of non-controversial bills to be passed on voice vote under suspension of the rules at the dinner hour with only a few Representatives present on the floor -- the same stealth tactic used successfully in September 2000.
The President sent his statement to the Rules Committee on Monday, before the meeting. Perhaps one of his reasons for doing that might have been to make sure the committee knows this is a highly controversial bill which should not be placed on the suspension calendar. The statement can be seen on official letterhead bearing the seal of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, and was released through the Office of Management and Budget.
See the official letterhead statement in pdf format at
Following is the statement in simple text (minus the letterhead and Presidential seal).
EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20503
October 22, 2007
STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
[sent to the House Rules Committee]
H.R. 505 – Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2007
(Rep. Abercrombie (D) Hawaii and 7 cosponsors)
The Administration strongly opposes passage of H.R. 505. As the U.S. Civil Rights Commission recently noted, this legislation “would discriminate on the basis of race or national origin and further subdivide the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege.” The President has eschewed such divisive legislation as a matter of policy, noting that “we must . . . honor the great American tradition of the melting pot, which has made us one nation out of many peoples.” This bill would reverse this great American tradition and divide the governing institutions of this country by race. If H.R. 505 were presented to the President, his senior advisors would recommend that he veto the bill.
H.R. 505 would grant broad governmental powers to a racially-defined group of “Native Hawaiians” to include all living descendents of the original, Polynesian inhabitants of what is now modern-day Hawaii. Members of this class need not have any geographic, political, or cultural connection to Hawaii, much less to some discrete Native Hawaiian community. Proponents of the bill seek to analogize Native Hawaiians to members of existing Indian tribes. As one Federal court recently explained, however, “the history of the indigenous Hawaiians...is fundamentally different from that of indigenous groups and federally-recognized Indian Tribes in the continental United States.”
Closely related to those policy concerns, H.R. 505 raises significant constitutional concerns that arise anytime legislation seeks to separate American citizens into race-related classifications rather than according to their own merits and essential qualities. In the particular context of Native Hawaiians, the Supreme Court has invalidated state legislation containing similar race-based qualifications for participation in Native Hawaiian governing entities and programs. Given the substantial historical and cultural differences between Native Hawaiians as a group and members of federally recognized Indian tribes, the Administration believes that tribal recognition is inappropriate and unwise for Native Hawaiians and would raise serious constitutional concerns. The Administration strongly opposes any bill that would formally divide sovereign United States power along suspect lines of race and ethnicity.
Send comments or questions to:
SEE MORE OF THE HISTORY OF THE AKAKA BILL DURING THE LAST HALF OF OCTOBER 2007 WHEN THE PRESIDENT ISSUED HIS STATEMENT
SEE THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE AKAKA BILL FOR THE 110TH CONGRESS, JANUARY 2007 THROUGH DECEMBER 2008
SEE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE AKAKA BILL
SEE WEBPAGES ABOUT HAWAIIAN SOVEREIGNTY ISSUES IN ADDITION TO THE AKAKA BILL