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Speaking Spanish On The Senate Floor To Urge ‘Commonsense’ Immigration Reform

June 11, 2013 by  

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.

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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