The House Natural Resources Committee approved H.R.2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.
The bill extends the policy of self-determination to Native Hawaiians. It creates a process by which a Native Hawaiian governing entity would be created and approved by the Interior Department similar to how American Indian and Alaska Native tribes are treated.
Republicans, led by Rep. Doc Hastings ( (R-Washington), the ranking member on the committee, tried to block consideration of the bill because they say the legislation will create a “race-based” government and will violate the U.S. Constitution.
President Barack Obama, who was born in Hawaii, supports the bill as so many Democrats. The Alaska Congressional delegation, who see parallels between the treatment of Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives, also back the legislation.
Native Hawaiian bill moves ahead without revision that upset state (The Honolulu Advertiser 12/17)
Also, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved S.1011, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.
The bill did not generate much discussion at the Senate committee’s business meeting. The House Natural Resources Committee debated the bill for hours, due to opposition from Republicans on a number of issues.
The Senate version includes provisions that are opposed by Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R), who otherwise supports Native Hawaiian recognition. The House version of the bill does not include these provisions.
Senate panel OKs amended Akaka bill (The Honolulu Advertiser 12/18)