Sen. Tim Kaine decided to do something different on the Senate floor Tuesday to encourage his colleagues to support an immigration reform bill.
The Virginia Democrat decided to deliver his 14-minute speech on the need for passage of the bill in Spanish.
The Senate voted to advance the landmark immigration bill, clearing away the first procedural hurdle in front of legislation opening the door to citizenship for millions.
The 82-15 vote was the first cast by the full Senate on the far-reaching bill that's a top priority for President Barack Obama. A second procedural vote set for later Tuesday would officially open debate on the measure.
Hours earlier, Obama appeared at the White House to prod Congress to send him a bill by fall.
Kaine, a former governor of Virginia, is fluent in Spanish, and often talks about his Catholic missionary service in Honduras. While campaigning for the Senate, Kaine released television ads in which he addressed voters in Spanish.
“Let’s show this country and the world that this is not a Republican bill and it is not a Democratic bill but it is a strong bipartisan bill. It is time that we pass comprehensive immigration reform,” said Kaine, according to a translation of the speech on his website.
“While not perfect, I can confidently stand here today and say this bill will do more for border security, more to improve our current backlog," Kaine said, "more to strengthen our employment verification system, and more to put measures in place to deal with the future flow of immigrants, compared to any other immigration bill in history.”
Kaine stressed the importance of discussing the measure in Spanish as well as in 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,” said Kaine.
“Spanish is also spoken by almost 40 million Americans who have a lot at stake in the outcome of this debate.”
His comments were translated into English for entry in the Congressional Record.
Kaine is not the first one to use Spanish to address Congressional members.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.