Home > newsroom > Page
Ranking Member Hastings’ Statement on the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act


WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2009 - House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings delivered the following statement today during the Full Committee hearing on H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009.


Click here to watch

“Mr. Chairman, thank you for scheduling this hearing on H.R. 2314, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act of 2009 sponsored by our good friend from Hawaii, Mr. Abercrombie.

If effort and persistence were all that were necessary to enact a bill, this would have become law the first year Mr. Abercrombie sponsored it. Because of my high regard for him and his bipartisanship in pursuing enactment of this bill, it is with a sense of regret that I find myself in the opposition.

Mr. Chairman, the House debated identical legislation in the 110th Congress in Committee and on the Floor, subsequent to which the full House passed it. At the time, I was a Member of the Rules Committee and managed the Rule for the consideration of this bill for the Republicans.

As in the last Congress, I am opposed to enacting this bill for the same reasons I described on the Floor then. No new circumstantial or legal evidence has come to light to change my opinion.

If anything, the latest 9-0 Supreme Court ruling in Hawaii v. Office of Hawaiian Affairs, decided March 31, 2009, casts a larger shadow than before on the doubtful proposition that Congress constitutionally can and should extend recognition to a governing entity for Native Hawaiians.

It bears noting that the Bush Administration threatened to veto the bill. Though President Obama is not bound by this, the previous Administration’s position largely rested on constitutional concerns raised by the Department of Justice, constitutional concerns with granting recognition to an entity that is effectively based on race.

Unfortunately, because no one from the Departments of Justice and Interior and the White House are here today, we really have no idea how President Obama came to the conclusion that this bill does not cross a constitutional boundary line separating recognition of an Indian tribe from recognition of a race-based government prohibited under the 14th Amendment.

In 2006, the Department of Justice sent letters to the Senate expressing deep concern that this legislation would ‘divide people by their race’ and that the Supreme Court and lower Federal Courts have been invalidating certain state laws providing race-based qualifications for certain state programs.

It would be helpful to have someone from the Justice Department present today to expand on these concerns. Their absence only makes one wonder if the White House does not want the Justice Department’s prior legal analysis to trump the President’s political support for Native Hawaiian recognition.”

# # #

Print version of this document


Contact: Emily Lawrimore or Jill Strait (202) 226-2311

Latest News

Bishop Statement on Nomination of Tara Sweeney to Be Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs

Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Tara Sweeney to be Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs within the Department of the Interior. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released t...... Read more

Chairmen Send Letters to FBI and FEMA Regarding Allegations of the Misappropriation of Hurricane Aid in Puerto Rico

Today, Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator William B. “Brock” Long and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director Christopher Wray ...... Read more

Onshore Energy Bill Draws Praise as Subcommitte Continues Broad Overhaul of Federal Lands Energy Policy

Today, the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard testimony on a discussion draft of the “Opportunities for the Nation and States to Harness Onshore Resources Act” or “ONSHORE Act.” The bi...... Read more

View All News

Calendar

Oversight Hearing on Empowering States in Sage Grouse Management
Full Committee | 1324 Longworth House Office Building Washington D.C. 20515
Legislative Hearing on Indian Lands Bill
Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs | 1324 Longworth House Office Building Washington DC 20515
View All Events