Senator Tim Kaine (D-Va.) spoke Tuesday for nearly 15 minutes on the Senate floor in Spanish, applauding the Gang of Eight bipartisan coalition that’s pushing for a sweeping set of immigration reforms and supporting the start of the debate process that could see an immigration reform bill move out of the Senate.
Kaine planned the stunt, for which fellow Democratic Virginia Senator Mark Warner called him a “show-off.” In the hours before he took the Senate floor, Kaine had been promoting his speech with bilingual tweets calling for “commonsense” reform to fix “our broken immigration system.”
“Thought it was important to spend a few mins explaining bill in Spanish — a language spoken by almost 40M in US w/a lot at stake in outcome” he tweeted.
The Senate went ahead and voted 82-15 to begin debate on the controversial 1,000-page bill, which President Barack Obama is urging Congress to approve without playing “procedural games.”
The United States has no “official” language, and there’s likewise no official language provision requiring government officials to speak English. The rules of procedure do require that a Senator receive unanimous consent of the full Senate before speaking in another language from the floor, as Kaine himself did.