Akaka enlists GOP
leader’s help on
native Hawaiian bill

Hawaii Sen. Daniel Akaka appears to be running out of time to get a Senate vote on the native Hawaiian sovereignty bill.

But he hasn't given up. Yesterday he announced that he had enlisted the help of Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., the majority leader, to get the bill to a vote.

Akaka has little time left before the Senate starts a one-month recess on Friday.

Yesterday he persuaded Frist to file a motion to force a floor vote on Senate Bill 147, the native Hawaiian recognition bill that is commonly known as the Akaka Bill.

"I am grateful that the majority leader has agreed to file the petition to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 147. While there is a long procedural road ahead of us, I am glad that this bill will finally be brought to action," Akaka said.

Akaka had previously said he would file the motion himself, but with Frist weighing in, the GOP leader's motion carries more political significance.

Another bill is up for a cloture vote today, so it is still unclear whether Frist will fulfill his earlier pledge to bring the Akaka Bill to a vote before Congress adjourns.

Frist's involvement was announced after Akaka met with Hawaii's Sen. Dan Inouye and Sens. Jon Kyl, R- Ariz., Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and Frist.

"I am pleased at the outcome of our meeting with the majority leader. However, right now I am examining various strategies to be considered in order to get my bill the votes it needs for passage," Akaka said.

The Akaka Bill was supposed to be up for a vote last week, but objections by other GOP senators have prevented a full Senate hearing.

Akaka and Inouye maintain that the bill will pass if it makes it to the floor for a vote.

The Hawaii senators said they believed early agreements with the GOP majority would have allowed the bill to come up for debate and passage last week. But Republican senators have held up the bill, saying they are concerned it would lead to gambling on land controlled by any native government.

Akaka has been working for nearly six years to get a Senate vote on his bill, which would lead to federal recognition of a governing entity for native Hawaiians.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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