With A Speech In Spanish, Tim Kaine Makes Senate History | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

With A Speech In Spanish, Tim Kaine Makes Senate History

During Tuesday's debate on the Senate's immigration bill, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) took to the floor and launched into an almost 13-minute speech in support of the bill crafted by the bipartisan "Gang of Eight."

That's not the news. The fact that Kaine delivered it in Spanish is, because it's the first time a senator has delivered a full speech on the floor of the Senate in a language other than English.

"I think it is appropriate that I spend a few minutes explaining the bill in Spanish, a language that has been spoken in this country since Spanish missionaries founded St. Augustine, Florida, in 1565," Kaine explained in la lengua de Cervantes. "Spanish is also spoken by more than 40 million Americans with a huge investment in the result of this debate."

The New York Times dug through the Senate Library records and found other senators had delivered only snippets of speeches in Spanish.

The Times adds:

"Senator James M. Inhofe, Republican of Oklahoma, spoke Spanish in brief statements on the floor in 2003 and 2005, and former Senator Mel Martinez, Republican of Florida, did the same in 2005.

"Mr. Kaine, who learned Spanish when he lived in Honduras and helped run a Roman Catholic school with Jesuit missionaries, said he had started planning the speech six weeks ago and had written it with the help of two staff members who speak Spanish.

" 'I think people were probably surprised,' Mr. Kaine said. 'One of my people got a call by a Latino staffer in the House and said, "I have waited 20 years to see this happen." ' "

Roll Call dug through its archives and found that Sen. Martinez spoke in Spanish in 2005. It was his first-ever Senate floor speech and he was encouraging colleagues to support the nomination of Alberto Gonzales, who went on to become the first Latino attorney general.

"I will do it in a respectful way, because I know we are an English-speaking country," Martinez, who is Cuban-American, told the paper at the time. "But I think to resonate ... saying a few words in Spanish will be a good thing."

It's worth noting that when a senator wants to deliver remarks in another language, it requires unanimous consent. Kaine asked and received the consent and he also entered an English translation of his speech into the congressional record.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Passages' Author Reflects On Her Own Life Journey

Gail Sheehy is famous for her in-depth profiles of influential people, as well as her 1976 book on common adult life crises. Now she turns her eye inward, in her new memoir Daring: My Passages.
NPR

Syrup Induces Pumpkin-Spiced Fever Dreams

Hugh Merwin, an editor at Grub Street, bought a 63-ounce jug of pumpkin spice syrup and put it in just about everything he ate for four days. As he tells NPR's Scott Simon, it did not go well.
NPR

Texas Gubernatorial Candidates Go To The Border To Court Voters

Republicans have won every statewide office in Texas for 20 years, but the growing Hispanic population tends to vote Democrat, and the GOP's survival may depend on recruiting Hispanic supporters.
NPR

In San Diego, A Bootcamp For Data Junkies

Natasha Balac runs a two-day boot camp out of the San Diego Supercomputer Center for people from all types of industries to learn the tools and algorithms to help them analyze data and spot patterns in their work.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.