Native Hawaiian bill is dead

WASHINGTON – The Senate on Thursday dashed efforts to give native Hawaiians some of the same powers of self-governance granted to American Indians.

Critics argued that the measure could lead to race-based privileges in a state known for its diversity.

A procedural vote fell four short of the 60 votes needed to keep the bill on the Senate floor. With that, the legislation, promoted by Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, over the past seven years, was effectively dead for this session of Congress.

The vote was 56-41 in favor of proceeding with the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. All 41 no votes were cast by Republicans. Thirteen Republicans and one independent joined 42 Democrats in supporting further action on the bill.

The bill recognizes the right of Native Hawaiians to form a governing entity that, upon approval by Washington, would be authorized to negotiate with the state and federal governments over such issues as historical grievances and control of natural resources, lands and assets.

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