A lame-duck session has been scheduled in the U.S. Senate, giving supporters of the Akaka bill hope the landmark legislation may yet pass this year.

The bill, which calls for federal recognition of Native Hawaiians and the establishment of a process to create a governing entity, has already passed the U.S. House.

A spokesman for Sen. Daniel Akaka said Monday that Akaka and Sen. Daniel K. Inouye “have met repeatedly with the majority leader to discuss floor time when the Senate returns.”

“The bill has bipartisan support, but they need floor time for an up-or-down vote,” Akaka spokesman Jesse Broder Van Dyke wrote in an e-mail to Civil Beat Monday.

To get that vote, 60 votes are need to invoke cloture to prevent a filibuster and allow for debate.

Democrats currently have 57 out of 100 senators. Two independents caucus with the majority party.

Just one month from election day, political observers predict Democrats will lose a handful of Senate seats but probably not their hold on power.
The Senate will be in session Nov. 15-19 and will reconvene on Nov. 29 and “remain in session until business is completed.” A new Congress will be sworn in on Jan. 3.

If passed unamended, the Akaka bill — formally called the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act — would not have to go back to the House for a vote.

A Republican tidal change in the House had appeared certain. The New York Times reported Sunday, however, that GOP leaders were less sure they could lock up the necessary seats.

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