Akaka bill to get
But a key senator says he would
prefer different measures
The Akaka bill to grant federal recognition for native Hawaiians will get a vote in the U.S. Senate despite objections from the new chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, Sen. Daniel Inouye said yesterday.
Inouye said he met Tuesday with the committee chairman, Sen. John McCain, who had said last week he would rather increase funding for existing native Hawaiian programs than pass the Akaka bill. "It was very productive, it was very friendly and we will have a hearing as soon as possible," Inouye said, noting that McCain does not oppose the bill. So far, the Akaka bill has failed to get a vote on the Senate floor because of opposition by key Republican senators, even though a similar measure passed twice in the U.S. House.
Just prior to last year's elections, Inouye and Sen. Daniel Akaka received assurances from majority Senate Republicans who had prevented a vote on the measure that the bill would pass out of committee and onto the Senate floor for a vote.
Akaka said he was surprised by McCain's remarks and planned to talk to the Arizona Republican. Gov. Linda Lingle, who is working with Hawaii's congressional delegation for passage of the Akaka bill, said she also planned to talk to McCain when she is in Washington, D.C., next month to attend the annual National Governors Association conference.
Inouye is optimistic of the bill's passage.
"I'm convinced that if all parties, all interested parties, were made aware of all of the facts and history of this measure, they'll go for it," Inouye said.
And Inouye said he believes the Hawaii contingent can convince President Bush to approve the bill as well.