Congresswoman Hirono joins Abercrombie, Offers Testimony on Akaka Bill
Before House Natural Resources Committee
On this day 116 years ago, the monarchy of the Kingdom of Hawaii was overthrown by agents of the United States," began U.S. Representative Neil Abercrombie in a Congressional hearing today on H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act. Abercrombie and Hirono sponsored the House version of the legislation, more often referred to as the Akaka Bill for its Senate sponsor, U.S. Senate Daniel K. Akaka.
This is the bill's first step in the legislative process in the new 111th Congress. Abercrombie and the late Congresswoman Patsy T. Mink gained approval for the legislation in the House in 2000, and he and Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaii won passage again in 2007.
Congresswoman Hirono testified before the committee: "Today is a state holiday in Hawaii, where we celebrate King Kamehameha I, who united all of the Hawaiian Islands and established the Kingdom of Hawaii in 1810," Hirono told the members of the committee. "It is for his people the Native Hawaiians that H.R. 2314 seeks to end years of injustice and provide a path to self-determination."
Following her testimony, Congresswoman Hirono was asked several probing and serious questions about the bill by members of the Committee who showed a real interest in and desire to be engaged and educated on the status of Native Hawaiians.
The Committee also heard testimony supporting the legislation from Micah Kane, Director of the Department of Hawaiian Homelands; Haunani Apoliona, Chairperson of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Board of Trustees; U.S. Civil Rights Commissioner Michael Yaki; and former White House Associate Counsel H. Christopher Bartolomucci.
"This legislation will allow Native Hawaiians to establish a government that can truly speak for them and their interests," Abercrombie said. "We have strong support in the House of Representatives. We have a larger majority in the Senate. We have a President who has already said he would sign it. There has never been a better time to pass the Akaka Bill."