Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Lingle pushing
Akaka Bill

The governor might make
a lobbying trip to Washington

Gov. Linda Lingle said she is continuing to lobby for the Native Hawaiian Recognition Bill in Congress, but she has not decided whether to fly to Capitol Hill to address federal lawmakers in person when they begin debating the measure.

Senate Republicans have agreed to allow a floor vote on the Akaka Bill by early August. Floor debate could begin as early as next week.

Lingle said she spoke with 10 Republican senators by phone on Thursday and Friday, about a week after GOP Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona criticized the bill in comments submitted to the Congressional Record and reprinted by the Republican Policy Committee.

"I got good responses," Lingle said. She did not identify the 10 senators she spoke with.

"I was calling them on the one hand to make certain that those who were co-sponsors didn't have any new questions that had come since Sen. Kyl's papers and they were all very firm in their support so that was good," Lingle said. "Then I talked with a few other Republican senators that I hadn't been able to talk with previously and all of them were open minded about it and that was a plus as well."

The Akaka Bill -- named after its key sponsor, U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii -- defines a process in which the federal government, through the Department of the Interior, would recognize a native Hawaiian governing body.

Kyl called it "the creation of race-based government for native Hawaiians" and warned that it could lead to Hawaii leaving the union.

He previously blocked a Senate vote on the measure, but agreed to permit a vote this summer after meeting earlier this year with U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii.

Lingle called Kyl's characterization of the bill "wrong" and said she would consider another trip to Washington to lobby support for the measure. Lingle has made similar efforts on past trips to the nation's capital.

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