Congresswoman Mazie K Hirono's (D-Hawaii) amendment (#532) saving the Native Hawaiian Education Act and the Alaska Native Education Equity Act that faced funding elimination passed the U.S. House this morning by a vote of 313 yeas to 117 nays. Congresswoman Hirono offered the amendment with her colleague Congressman Don Young (R-Alaska). The Young-Hirono Amendment was one of a few bipartisan amendments among the more than 500 amendments offered to the bill.
"Working across the aisle, Representative Young and I were able to join forces to counteract those who strongly oppose any programs benefiting Native Hawaiians or Alaska Natives. We lobbied our members hard, and I was thrilled with the decisive vote. Although we differ in many of our political views, we share a commitment to fairness for the indigenous, aboriginal people of what is now the United States," said Congresswoman Hirono
The Young-Hirono Amendment restores the eligibility of Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native education programs for federal funding. Congresswoman Hirono spoke on the House floor late Wednesday night urging her colleagues to support the bipartisan Young-Hirono Amendment that promotes innovative projects that enhance educational services available to Native Hawaiian children, young adults, and educators.
"Vital programs that serve our communities have been cut by the Republican Majority. Democrat after Democrat has spoken for over thirty-four hours over the past three days on how these cuts impact our districts. To be able to work collaboratively, even in the toxic Washington environment, speaks to the importance of Native Hawaiian education programs," said Congresswoman Hirono.
The House is currently debating a Republican spending bill that would fund the government from March through September 2011. The bill cuts more than $60 billion dollars from current levels of funding, including $34 million for Native Hawaiian education. Authorized programs for Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians have been specifically targeted. Funding for Native Hawaiian housing and health care programs have also been eliminated in this bill.
The final vote on H.R. 1 is expected this week.