What: All Issues : Housing : Funding for Housing Programs : H. Res. 269, providing for consideration of H.R. 835 (Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act)/On agreeing to the resolution (2007 house Roll Call 192)
 Who: All Members
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H. Res. 269, providing for consideration of H.R. 835 (Hawaiian Homeownership Opportunity Act)/On agreeing to the resolution
house Roll Call 192     Mar 27, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was the second vote 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.

One week prior, the bill had been taken up with a procedure known as a suspension of the rules, which is basically a time-saving method used for relatively uncontroversial legislation that is all but assured of passage. Bills taken up under suspension of the normal House rules require a two-thirds majority for passage. The vote was 262-162, an insufficient majority to pass the measure under suspension of the rules. The Democratic leadership opted to bring the bill up again under regular order with what's known as a closed rule, meaning the bill couldn't be amended.

Republicans were against the bill because they said it could have the indirect effect of conferring tribal status on Native Hawaiians, a group currently classified as a racial group in the eyes of the federal government rather than an entity entitled to sovereignty within the United States. Many Republicans also said the bill was likely unconstitutional because directing money towards Native Hawaiians as a racial group could be considered discriminatory. Republicans opposed the rules package because of the prohibition on amendments. During committee markup of the bill, Republicans had tried unsuccessfully to amend the bill to ensure that the legislation could not be interpreted as an indirect confirmation of tribal status, and they hoped to offer the same amendment on the floor.

"That Constitution, as we know, in almost all cases is opposed to racial set-asides," Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.) said. "So this disturbs many of my colleagues on my side of the aisle."

Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) pointed out during debate on the House floor that the bill has always been relatively uncontroversial in the past. During the previous week's debate he decried "misconceptions or misperceptions" that made the bill controversial.

In the end, 12 Republicans crossed party lines and voted with all but one Democrat present to pass the rules package. Thus, by a vote of 234-188, the House voted to approve the rules of consideration for a bill to authorize funding for programs aiming to help low-income Native Hawaiians find affordable housing.

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