In First, Senator Delivers Speech in Spanish on Senate Floor—and the Jesuits Played a Role

From the New York Times: 

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. 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.’ ”

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.

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