“NO” on Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 360)

This evening, the House will vote on the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 360).  Introduced by Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) 74%, the bill would reauthorize the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Act of 1996.  In doing so, it would re-authorize the discriminatory housing policies implemented in Hawaii by the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.

While the bill’s provisions are numerous, the primary concern is section Sec. 801, which simply reauthorizes the Native Hawaiian Homeownership Act.  The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky explains this “seemingly innocuous provision” is actually very problematic:

You have to dig into the existing federal law to find out that, under 25 U.S.C. §4223(d), Hawaii is exempt from the nondiscrimination requirements of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act when it is distributing federal housing funds made available by the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to “Native Hawaiians” or “a Native Hawaiian family.”

This exemption means the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands can discriminate in favor of “Native Hawaiians” and a “Native Hawaiian family” and against others such as whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians.  In other words, the federal government is authorizing Hawaii (and providing it with taxpayer funds) to engage in blatant discrimination by providing government benefits for some of its residents and denying federally funded benefits to others based solely on their ancestry and “blood quantum.”

H.R 360 is unconstitutional because it denies equal protection under the 14th Amendment by dispensing housing benefits to Native Hawaiians on the basis of race. Native Hawaiians do not constitute an Indian tribe, which under the Constitution were those nations existing politically at the time of the Founding and not race-based groups. It is “an appalling legal concept,” von Spakovsky concludes, that any federals funds would  “be distributed in a manner that directly authorizes discriminatory conduct against American citizens based on their ancestry, race, or ‘blood quantum.’”

Heritage Action opposes H.R. 360 and will include it as a key vote on our legislative scorecard.

Related:
Heritage Action Scorecard
Heritage: How Hawaii (Legally) Discriminates Against Non-Native Hawaiians