Akaka Bill's necessity stressed
Informal filibusters stall the measure in the U.S. Senate
Kamehameha Schools' decision to settle instead of risk an adverse U.S. Supreme Court ruling on its Hawaiians-only admission policy does not change the need for a native Hawaii federal recognition bill in Congress, according to supporters of the Akaka Bill.
"This action doesn't remove the need for the Akaka Bill," said Gov. Linda Lingle, an Akaka Bill supporter. "The need is stronger than ever."
Lingle, who just returned from lobbying for the measure in Washington, said the chances of passage for the bill have neither improved nor diminished.
The bill, first introduced in 2000, has been stalled in the Senate, where informal filibusters have blocked the measure from a vote on the floor.
The Akaka Bill needs 60 votes to break the filibuster, and neither the Democratic nor Republican supporters have been able to put together enough votes to advance the bill.
"We haven't lost any support on the Republican side, but it is still chasing 60 votes," Lingle said.
Asked about the opposition from the administration of Republican President Bush, Lingle said the bill must clear Congress first.
"I have talked to the president many times about it," she said. "He is very aware of it, but you still need 60 votes and I think it is premature to talk about what the administration is going to do when you need to ask, 'Where do you get the 60 votes?'"
Hawaii's congressional delegation also said the Akaka Bill is still needed.
"The need for the Akaka Bill remains critical," Rep. Mazie Hirono said. "The dismissal doesn't mean we are out of the woods as far as legal threats to other programs that assist native Hawaiians."