Akaka Bill Vote Blocked

Senator. Daniel Akaka in May 2006
Senator. Daniel Akaka in May 2006
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in 2005
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid in 2005

(KHNL) The long debated Akaka Bill remains blocked after senators voted on a motion that would take it to the senate floor Thursday morning.

The vote was 56 to 41, 4 votes shy of what was needed to force the Akaka Bill to the floor.

The failure means the measure won't come for a vote right away as planned.

"Sadly, the noble values of equality, fairness and strength in diversity, hallmarks of our state and our country, fell victim to politics, rhetoric and procedural maneuvering. The central issue of federal recognition for Hawaii's indigenous people has yet to be given its fair examination" said Senator Daniel Akaka in a written statement.

"I am disappointed that we did not overcome the procedural obstacles to bring the bill to the floor, but I am heartened by the fact that 56 Senators supported our efforts. I have always said that we had the votes to enact this bill on an up or down vote." wrote Akaka.

"It took more than 100 years for Congress to apologize for the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, and promise a process of reconciliation. This Senate failed to deliver on that promise. Too many Senators listened to the rhetoric of fear and ignorance" said Haunani Apoliona, chairperson of the OHA Board of Trustees.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada stated: "Regretfully, the Akaka Bill can go no further in this Congress thanks to the 11th hour intervention and fear mongering by the Bush Administration and his Department of Justice. However, Senator Akaka's efforts on behalf of Hawaiians and all the people of Hawaii will continue and I will continue to stand with him."

In a statement issued Thursday morning Senator Daniel Inouye stated:

"I commend Senator Akaka for his tireless efforts to bring his namesake legislation this far, given the politically motivated obstacles that his measure had to face. But it would be premature to pronounce the Akaka bill dead. There is always tomorrow. Given all of the schemes used to derail the Akaka bill, I will not at this time reveal what we might do to advance this important piece of legislation for the First People of Hawaii."

The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act could have given the 400-thousand people nationwide of Native Hawaiian ancestry new say over resources and lands on the islands.

Stay with KHNL.com for further reaction to the Senate vote. We will have much more local reaction on KHNL First at Five.