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Tim Kaine delivered the first-ever Senate speech all in Spanish

Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s vice presidential running mate, has not been in the Senate very long, having first been elected in 2012. But he’s already made congressional history. In June 2013, mere months after taking office, he became the first senator to ever deliver an entire speech in Spanish — or, indeed, to do so in any language besides English.

You can watch the speech above, or read it on Kaine’s Senate page here. It is a long argument for comprehensive immigration reform as proposed by the bipartisan Gang of Eight. The actual content is rather boilerplate, invoking America's history as a nation of immigrants, touting the bolder security measures in the bill, and arguing that earned citizenship is a moral and economic necessity.

But the fact that it was delivered in Spanish was historic. The New York Times' Erin Banco consulted the Senate Library and found that no previous senator had ever delivered an entire speech not in English. There had been brief statements of Spanish before, by Sens. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Mel Martinez (R-FL), but never an entire speech.

Kaine became fluent in Spanish during the year he lived in Honduras working with Jesuit missionaries, during a break from Harvard Law School in 1980. While Kaine beat out several VP contenders who would have made history as the first Latino pick, including Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, his fluency is at the very least an asset that should help the Clinton campaign in its efforts to turn out the Latino vote in the face of an unprecedented threat in the form of Donald Trump.

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