Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has done it again. Earlier this week we learned that Lisa Murkowski opposes the repeal of ObamaCare. RS Insider has been informed that there is a strong push by Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) to pass S. 1011, the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act, also known as the “Akaka Bill,” this year with the active support of Senator Murkowski. The bill, sponsored by Senator Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), sets up an unconstitutional race based separate government entity for Native Hawaiians The lone Republican co-sponsor is none other than Senator Lisa Murkowski. This is the same Lisa Murkowski who was elected Vice Chairwoman of the whole Republican Conference in June of last year and is supposed to lead against terrible liberal ideas — not for them.
Over the past week the left has slandered the Tea Party movement with charges of racism. News has broken that the New Black Panther Movement has been given preferential treatment by lawyers at the Justice Department. The Akaka Bill will further inflame racial separatism and divide the nation.
This bill enables fully assimilated “aboriginal” people to withdraw from the jurisdiction of Hawaii into an ethnic enclave with its own government powers and immunities. Supporters of this idea argue that it enables the ethnically “Hawaiian” (those with a single drop of “aboriginal” blood) to have their own government. Conservatives argue that this bill is unconstitutional and promotes racial separatism.
Another faction of opposition to the idea are Native Hawaiians who don’t like the bill for some different reasons. Native Hawaiians who support Native Hawaiian separatism and others who mistrust federal bureaucrats oppose this bill, because the legislation empowers the Office of Native Hawaiian Affairs, housed in the Department of U.S. Interior, to play a significant role in governing them. Most Native Hawaiians just want to be left alone by the federal government and they don’t trust Washington, D.C. to protect Native Hawaiian’s proud history and heritage. They further argue that the federal government wants to buy up Hawaiian lands in the name of protecting Native Hawaiians. These two camps have legitimate concerns.
Senator Murkowski supports this measure and Senators Inouye and Akaka are counting on her leadership skills to bring along other Republican Senators. Alaska has a community of Native Alaskans who lived in geographically and culturally separate communities and this may explain why she agreed to support the measure initially. One would hope that under further review, Senator Murkowski would reconsider her support for this constitutionally offensive proposed law.
The Murkowski position today is preposterous. Native Alaskans in her own state, and Indian Tribes for that matter, lived in distinct communities, did not intermarry at significant rates, and typically maintained some kind of local or tribal government since Western contact. Our Constitution contemplated dealing with Indian tribes in the light of that history. Congress regularly dealt with these issues when admitting new states. To establish a new law that would cut up the nation based on race flies in the face of the history of dealing with Native Alaskans and Indian Tribes.
Hawaii is very different from the Alaska example. Hawaii is a melting pot. Hawaii has a history of being a monarchy, then a territory of the United States prior to annexation. The aboriginal peoples of Hawaii were long ago absorbed into the mainstream culture. There was never a distinct tribe or any kind of native organization since becoming an American territory. Tribal rights were not part of negotiations when Hawaii became a state in 1959. Hawaii came into the United States proudly touting its interracial marriage rates and racial harmony.
The Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act would have Hawaii go in just the opposite direction. The legislation Murkowski supports would have 20 percent of Hawaii’s population sucked into a made-up “Indian tribe,” give them their own government, and make it impossible for neighbors who can’t pass the tribe’s racial test to deal with them on equal footing. Furthermore, Native Hawaiians live in all 50 states and you would have a new “tribe” that would span the continental U.S., territories, Alaska and Hawaii. This new Native Hawaiian Government would be subject to different laws and would not be held to account in Hawaii’s courts. These are serious concerns that Senator Murkowski may not have considered.
If Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) pulls the trigger and moves to proceed to the bill, Senator Murkowski may be the 60th vote to join liberal Democrats to break a filibuster. This bill has passed in committee and sits on the Senate Calendar ready for full Senate floor consideration. Murkowski may be the deciding vote and has been called on by the Senators from Hawaii to help round up Republican support.
There has always been an odd alliance between the Senators from Hawaii and Alaska on these types of issues. There are those who worry that the only reason Senator Murkowski supports the Akaka Bill is to get increased Alaskan pork from Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Inouye. There are others who say that she supports it because she genuinely believes in the policy of dividing up Hawaii based on race. It is difficult to say which is worse: craven pork-barreling and back-scratching, or utter indifference to racial division. Either way, her current position is inconsistent with the constitution and conservatism. The sad truth is that this is yet another example of Senator Murkowski turning her back on the Conservative movement.
One fear on the part of sources for Red State Insider is that Senator Inouye may try to put this bill in one of the massive appropriations measures scheduled to pass later this year. As an appropriator, Senator Inouye has great power to load up approps bills and he may try and bury this legislation in the dark of night in a must pass bill to fund the government into 2011. If Senator Murkowski is complicit in this strategy, then she has zero respect for conservatives who want to see this bill fail in the light of day with Senators being forced to cast and up or down vote on a free standing Native Hawaiian Reorganization Act.
It gets worse. A source that closely follows progress of the Native Hawaiian bill tells Red State Insider that “despite the recent spinning and posturing in the press, the likelihood of the (Native Hawaiian Bill) passing in the Senate this year is nil … unless .. a few votes can be wrangled from the Republican side to break any Republican (threat of a filibuster) and stop time-consuming amendments.” The Senator who is tasked to round up votes is Murkowski, and sources tell me that she has been specifically tasked with rounding up the votes of the other three Republican women Senators.
My source jokes that “apparently Inouye is going to try to sweet-talk the four women Republican Senators, and, as the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he can really talk sweet! Picture promises of diamond earmarks…chocolate covered stimulus…gift packages of pork.” Murkowski will help to round up moderate Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). Maybe Murkowski will take a run at moderate Senator Kay Baily Hutchison (R-TX). If it is true that Senator Murkowski is the point person to round up votes, now that should be highly offensive to conservative minded constituents in Alaska.
The Senators from Hawaii know that the window is closing and they are desperate to railroad this bill through the Senate while they have time. They will try to pass the bill with Murkowski’s help either by passing the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act on the Senate floor or, with Murkowski’s support, bury the legislation in a must pass appropriations bill. Dems may lose a number of seats in the Senate and this may be the last time that the liberals have a chance to set up this new race based government for Native Hawaiian people.