What: All Issues : Housing : Funding for Housing Programs : H.R. 835, Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act/On motion to suspend the rules and pass (2007 house Roll Call 173)
 Who: All Members
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H.R. 835, Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act/On motion to suspend the rules and pass
house Roll Call 173     Mar 21, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This vote was on a bill that would authorize through fiscal 2012 the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant and Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee programs, which provide grants for affordable housing for low-income Native Hawaiians as well as guaranteed loans to Native Hawaiian families living on homesteads.

The bill was taken up with a procedure known as a suspension of the rules, which is basically a time-saving method used for relatively noncontroversial legislation that is all but assured of passage. Suspending the rules means that the measure cannot be amended and debate is limited to forty minutes on each side. Bills taken up under suspension of the normal House rules require a two-thirds majority for passage.

Although no Republicans stood up on the House floor and spoke against the legislation, clearly there was opposition from within Republican ranks, as a majority of Republicans voted against it.

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) alluded to what he referred to "misconceptions or misperceptions" that made the bill controversial. "There are some issues with respect to questions about favoritism or reverse discrimination, et cetera," Abercrombie said, referring to the limitation on the grants and loans to "Native Hawaiians."

Abercrombie also pointed out that the bill was the result of a request of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, under the leadership of Governor Linda Lingle, who is a Republican. Abercrombie said that the issue was institutional in nature, meaning that governor-appointed commissioners are obligated to bring these issues to the Congress for final adjudication because of the unique legal status of the Hawaiian homelands.

Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.) also rose to support the measure, saying that reauthorizing the legislation allows Native Hawaiian families living at or below 80 percent of the median income level to finance homes and is funneled through programs such as Habitat for Humanity.

Although no Republicans spoke out against the legislation, 162 Republicans voted against it. Thirty-four Republicans joined all 228 Democrats present in voting for the bill. Although the final vote of 262-162 was far beyond a simple majority, the suspension rules under which the measure was considered required a two-thirds majority. (In order to pass under suspension of the rules, the bill would have had to receive 283 votes.) The Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act thus failed on this round, although the House leadership would bring it up again a week later under normal rules and it would pass easily.

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