Posted on June 17, 2013

A Speech in Spanish Is a First for the Senate

Erin Banco, New York Times, June 12, 2013

When Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, took the Senate floor on Tuesday to deliver a speech in support of animmigration overhaul bill, he did it in a way no senator had done before: entirely in Spanish.

“We are going to have hours upon hours of debate about this on the floor of the Senate, and taking 15 minutes to explain the bill in Spanish just seemed like a good idea,” Mr. Kaine said. “Latinos have so much invested in the outcome of the bill, people ought to know what the bill is about.”

According to records from the Senate Library, Mr. Kaine was the first senator to give a speech all in Spanish on the Senate floor. {snip}

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.


Mr. Kaine, a former governor of Virginia, said he used to speak Spanish only every four to five months, but now found himself speaking it every day. “It is a sign of the changing nature of Virginia,” he said.