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Akaka Bill

From dKosopedia

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, known as the Akaka Bill after its primary sponsor, Sen. Daniel Akaka, defines a process through which the federal government, through the Department of the Interior, would recognize a Native Hawaiian governing body.

It should be noted that Congress in 1993 passed the "Apology Resolution" in which the United States acknowledged wrongdoings in the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893. The resolution recognizes the sovereignty of Hawaii's indigenous people over their land.

During the 2004 congressional session, the bill was prevented from reaching a full Senate vote by Sen. Jon Kyl and other opponents. At the end of the session, Kyl and the Senate leadership promised that the bill would get a full floor vote in 2005.

On Jan. 25, 2005, Sen. Daniel Akaka and Sen. Daniel Inouye officially introduced the bill in the Senate, while Reps. Neil Abercrombie and Ed Case introduced an identical measure in the House of Representatives.

In Decemeber of 2004, the new chairman on the Indian Affairs Committee, Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, declared his opposition to it, saying, “When Hawai‘i became a state, there was an implicit agreement at that time that Native Hawaiians would not receive the same status as Native Americans.” After meeting with Inouye, McCain said that he would not block an up-or-down vote on the measure on the Senate floor.

On March 1, 2005, Chairman Sen. John McCain of the Senate Indian Affairs Committe held a hearing on S. 147, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act (Akaka Bill). Governor Linda Lingle testified that, "This bill is vital to the survival of the Native Hawaiian people, it is vital to providing parity in federal policy for all native peoples in America and it is vital to the continued character of the state of Hawaii."

On March 9, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee unanimously approved a bill formally recognizing Native Hawaiians as an indigenous people. The bill now goes to the full Senate.

In a July 2005 letter to Sen. John McCain, the U.S. Justice Department listed four key changes in the Akaka Bill that the Bush Administration supports:

Gov. Linda Lingle said, "The fact that the Justice Department's concerns do not go to the core of the bill is a positive sign regarding its passage."

U.S. senators Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka had hoped the bill could be debated as early as the week of July 18, 2005. However, senators Inouye and Akaka, who held news conferences on July 20, reported that at least six Republicans senators have concerns about the bill and have placed holds on it. Senators can use a hold to either get information about a bill or block the measure completely. To overcome a hold, Akaka and Inouye must get 60 senators to agree to a "motion of cloture", which would call for the bill to be debated. On July 29, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., filed a motion of cloture.

Sen. Daniel Akaka says, in a Star-Bulletin article dated 12-23-05, that Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., pledged to take the necessary steps needed to bring the measure, S. 147, to the Senate floor in 2006. [1]

Cloture vote, June 2006

On June 6, 2006, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell filed a petition for a cloture vote on the Akaka Bill. The cloture motion forces the Senate to decide whether it will take up the measure.

On June 7 Senate went through three hours of debate on the motion.

On June 8, in a close 56-41 vote, the U.S. Senate failed to pass a procedural petition that would have brought the Akaka Bill to the Senate floor for debate and a vote. The cloture motion needed the votes of 60 senators for full Senate consideration of the bill. Cloture ends the possibility that opponents could filibuster the bill and prevent a vote.

In a Honolulu Star-Bulletin 'Breaking News' article dated June 8, 2006 and entitled, Akaka Bill fails a vote in the Senate, Sally Apgar and Greg Kakesako reported on a last minute Bush administration letter that may have swayed the vote:

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye said he did not expect or anticipate that the Bush administration at the last minute would release what Inouye described as “a misleading letter,” which probably swayed the outcome of today’s vote.

Inouye said the White House was “grossly disingenuous” in its letter opposing the original version of the bill because everyone knew the bill had been reworked to address all concerns.

“Then the Republican leadership used the letter to urge the majority to vote against the Akaka bill, saying this was the administration’s position.” [2]

A June 7 Honolulu Advertiser article entitled, Justice Department advises Senate to reject Akaka bill, Gordon Y.K. Pang details contents of the Justice department letter to Senate leaders:

On the eve of a crucial vote, the U.S. Department of Justice late today issued a letter to Senate leaders stating that the Bush Administration "strongly opposes" passage of the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, better known as the Akaka bill.

Assistant Attorney General William E. Moschella cited a report issued last month by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission recommending that senators reject the bill, which initiates a process that would lay the groundwork toward establishing of a federally recognized Native Hawaiian entity.

The report, Moschella noted, said the bill could lead to "further subdivide(ing) the American people into discrete subgroups accorded varying degrees of privilege."

Moschella's two-paragraph letter was addressed to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. A copy was sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, who leads the Democratic caucus.


Moschella also cited a quote from Bush that said "we must ... honor the great American tradition of the melting pot." Moschella wrote: "This bill would reverse that great American tradition and divide people by their race." [3]

The Akaka Bill is essentially dead for this legislative session.

The bill is supported by Hawaii's Democratic congressional delegation and Republican governor, but is opposed by some Native Hawaiians and their supporters who feel it is an attempt to deprive Hawaiian nationals of their international right to self-determiniation and independence and is inconsistent with Hawaii's history as an independent country, and also by some who feel the bill is unconstitutionally race-based.


The Akaka Bill will be reintroduced by Senator Akaka in the new U.S. Senate which now has a Democratic majority and the bill will go through the committee process.

External Links

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This page was last modified 21:05, 10 November 2010 by dKosopedia user Jbet777. Based on work by dKosopedia user(s) Allamakee Democrat, Henryclay and Scottmaui. Content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

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