WASHINGTON, June 8 (UPI) -- A bill that would give Native Hawaiians a special national status similar to that of American Indians has failed to reach the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, said he would try again to get the bill to a vote. A cloture vote this week failed by 56-41, four short of the 60 needed to end debate, the Honolulu Advertiser reported.
"The bill still stands except that we cannot bring the bill to the floor," Akaka said. "This is what has happened for the past six years."
While members of Indian tribes are citizens of the United States, they also have special sovereign status. Native Hawaiians, once citizens of an independent country, do not.
Conservatives called the bill an unconstitutional attempt to divide Hawaii on racial lines.
"The Constitution does not authorize Congress to make Indian tribes out of subsets of Americans who have no relationship whatsoever to an Indian tribe," said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas.