Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) announced a budget deal today that would “call for $1.012 trillion in federal spending in 2014 while replacing some sequestration cuts,” according to this report in The Hill.
The deal is described as a compromise that falls short of “the grand budget bargain” that Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and President Obama once talked about. “But if passed, it will bring a measure of fiscal peace to the capital for the first time since Republicans wrested control of the House in 2010.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii said in a statement, “This proposed budget deal presents tough choices for everyone and I commend my colleagues who worked together on a compromise that provides welcome relief from the partisan brinksmanship that led to the first government shutdown in 17 years. I will closely review the details of this budget proposal to see how it addresses the needs of Hawaii and our nation . …”
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa said in a statement, “I am certain that there will be provisions in the proposal that I like and others that give me pause, but that is the nature of compromise. I look forward to delving into the details and determining whether I can support the measure as a whole.”
Photo: U.S. Capitol. (cliff1066™)
Gov. Neil Abercrombie today participated in the first meeting of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, held at the White House’s Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C.
Obama established the task force to advise the administration on how the federal government “can respond to the needs of communities nationwide that are currently dealing with or anticipate extreme weather, sea level rise, and other impacts of climate change,” according to a press release.
The first meeting focused on “building climate resilience into efforts to better prepare for and recover from natural disasters.”
Named to the task force last month, Gov. Abercrombie attended along with Deputy Chief of Staff Blake Oshiro and Hawaii State Sustainability Coordinator Jacqueline Kozak Thiel.
Photo: Gov. Abercrombie in D.C., Dec. 10, 2013. (Abercrombie Administration)
Actor George Takei is supporting Rep. Colleen Hanabusa for U.S. Senate, he said in an email the Hanabusa campaign sent on Monday.
Takei said that he knows Hanabusa will “continue to fight hard for what’s right.” Here’s an excerpt from the email:
During my childhood, my family and I were interned in Rohwer prison camp in the swamps of southeast Arkansas and in Tule Lake in northern California because we looked like the people who bombed Pearl Harbor.
Like my family, Colleen Hanabusa’s grandfathers were also sent to internment camps. Listening to her grandfathers’ stories about that experience inspired Colleen at an early age to end discrimination and fight for equality.
Takei is known for playing Sulu in the original Star Trek series and for advocating gay rights. He also supported Sen. Mazie Hirono in her Senate campaign.
As Civil Beat has previously reported, Takei was apparently friends with Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died last year and wanted Hanabusa to succeed him.
Photo: Oh my. (Gage Skidmore)
— Adrienne LaFrance
The U.S. Senate today unanimously passed the House of Representative’s version of the Undetectable Firearms Act, which grants a 10-year extension of the ban on plastic, undetectable guns.
But the measure does not prevent homemade production of plastic guns using devices like 3-D printers.
Sen. Brian Schatz is a co-sponsor with other Democrats to close loopholes in the bill, but, according to Schatz’s office, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) objected to amending the measure.
“We should be able to take action on stopping homemade, virtually invisible firearms. This is a no-brainer,” said Schatz.
Photo: The Hawaii senator with colleagues. (Sen. Brian Schatz)
Gov. Neil Abercrombie was on CNN’s Crossfire for all of two minutes today.
Co-host Newt Gingrich asked him about whether he was the one who accepted the recent resignation of Coral Andrews, executive director of the Hawaii Health Connector. Gingrich called it Hawaii’s version of Obamacare.
Abercrombie corrected Gingrich, telling him that Hawaii — being “unique” — has a nonprofit corporation running the state’s health insurance exchange. The governor said the real issue is about getting insurance to people who don’t have it.
Gingrich persisted: Would Abercrombie, if he were president, accept the resignation of Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, regarding the problems with the Affordable Care Act website?
Abercrombie said he would not answer the hypothetical question, saying instead, “I’m interested in getting the uninsured insured.”
Abercrombie is in Washington, D.C., to participate in the first meeting of President Obama’s Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. Lt. Gov. Shan Tsutsui is acting governor until the boss returns Wednesday.
Photo: Crossfire. (CNN)
The U.S. Senate voted 56-38 today to confirm Patricia Millett to the D.C. Circuit Court, “making her the first nominee of President Obama’s to clear the Senate since Democrats unilaterally changed the rules in a vote last month,” according to this report in The Hill.
The rule change — the so-called “nuclear option” — means only 51 votes are needed to end a filibuster on nominations below the level of the Supreme Court. Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) voted with Democrats.
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii tweeted out her view:
Proud to see Patricia Millett finally confirmed. Qualified women deserve better than obstruction
Photo: Sen. Hirono with Judiciary Committee colleagues, Oct. 31, 2013. (Sen. Mazie Hirono)
U.S. Senator Brian Schatz wants his colleagues to pass a 10-year ban on undetectable firearms, “including plastic and 3-D printed guns, which do not show up on x-ray machines or through metal detectors,” according to a press release.
The current ban is set to expire this Monday. The House of Representatives passed a ban on undetectable firearms last week on voice vote, and the Senate expects to take up the measure Monday. But the measure, introduced by Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.), is just a straight extension of existing law, originally passed in 1988 and later extended.
Schatz is a co-sponsor of the Undetectable Firearms Modernization Act, which was introduced in April. According to Schatz’s office, he and other Democrats will try to amend the House extension bill to include more safety measures.
Photo: Plastic gun screen shot, Dec. 7, 2013. (Mashable)
Veterans, their families and survivors receiving disability compensation and pension benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs will receive a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase in their monthly payments beginning Jan. 1. That’s good news for Hawaii, which has a sizable vet population.
“We’re pleased there will be another cost-of-living increase for Veterans, their families and their survivors,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs (and Kauai boy) Eric K. Shinseki, in a press release. “The increase expresses in a tangible way our Nation’s gratitude for the sacrifices made by our service-disabled and wartime Veterans.”
For the first time, the VA says, payments will not be rounded down to the nearest dollar. For veterans without dependents, the new compensation rates will range from $130 monthly for a disability rated at 10 percent to $2,858 monthly for 100 percent. The full rates are available here.
Photo: Gen. Eric Shinseki. (Secretary of Defense)
Millie Akaka, Jean Ariyoshi and Irene Hirano Inouye are hosting a fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, who is running for the U.S. Senate.
It’s set for Dec. 17 in Pacific Heights on Oahu. Suggested donations are $500 (guest) and $1,000 (sponsor).
Other notable female Democrats on the Women for Colleen Hanabusa Committee (members seek to contribute or raise $2,600) include state Sens. Jill Tokuda and Michelle Kidani and state Rep. Sylvia Luke.
Photo: U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa. (Courtesy)
VoteVets, a national veterans advocacy group, has endorsed state Rep. Mark Takai in his campaign for Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District.
The same group helped send Tulsi Gabbard to the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2012.
“VoteVets was certainly an important contributing factor in Tulsi’s decisive victory,” said Maj Gen (Ret.) Ed Richardson, one of the co-chairmen of the Veterans for Takai.
Takai, a member of the Hawaii Army National Guard, recently received the backing of Iraq War hero and Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth.
Photo: Rep. Mark Takai. (Courtesy)
Hawaii’s U.S. representatives, Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard, were in the minority on a 254-159 vote to amend the Investment Advisers Act of 1940 “to provide a registration exemption for private equity fund advisers.”
In a statement, Hanabusa’s office said of the Republican-sponsored legislation, “Instead of improving the Dodd-Frank Wall Street and Consumer Protection Act, H.R. 1105 exempts the vast majority, if not all, of private equity investment advisors from registration and reporting requirements with the Securities and Exchange Commission that make the financial market more transparent and protect investors.”
“The ability to manage and monitor risks in all investment areas is crucial to ensuring that another 2008 financial crisis does not happen again, and I could not vote to create a loophole that would exempt almost all private equity firms from oversight, while weakening investor protections,” said Hanabusa.
The measure heads to the Senate, where its prospects of passage, according to Hanabusa’s office, are slim.
Photo: D.C. (Nouhailler)
On state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim's Facebook page for her congressional campaign you’ll find this little item:
Kim hasn’t yet been elected to Congress, but she’s apparently already thinking ahead.
Photo: Screen shot, Dec. 2, 2013. (Facebook)
A 400-foot Japanese Navy mega-submarine that traces back to World War II and was scuttled by the U.S. military in 1946 has been discovered by University of Hawaii and NOAA researchers off of the southwest coast of Oahu.
The landmark discovery of the “I-400” warship, which was found submerged 2,300 below water in August, is being described by UH as a feat that “resolves a decades-old Cold War mystery of just where the lost submarine lay, and recalls a different era as one war ended and a new, undeclared conflict emerged.” (Researchers had to review their findings with the U.S. and Japanese governments before announcing the discovery.)
The I-400 was the largest submarine ever built until the introduction of nuclear-powered submarines in the 1960s. Unlike any other diesel-electric submarine to this day, it could travel a range of 37,500 miles — one and a half times around the world — without refueling, according to the UH press release. The innovative submarine could hold up to three folding-wing float-plane bombers, each with a 1,800-pound bomb, that could be catapulted off within minutes after surfacing.
But the bombs were never used. At the end of WWII, the U.S. Navy captured five Japanese submarines — including the I-400 — and brought them to Pearl Harbor for inspection. The U.S. then sank the submarines off the coast of Oahu when the Soviet Union demanded access to them in 1946, claiming that it didn’t know where the warships were located. The Cold War was just beginning, and the U.S. didn’t want the submarine technology in the hands of the Soviet Union. The discovery of the I-400 marks the fourth such submarine to be discovered by UH.
Terry Kerby, a veteran undersea explorer who serves as operations director and chief submarine pilot at the university’s Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, led the undertaking. The UH undersea laboratory has been searching for submarines and other submerged artifacts for more than two decades as part of NOAA’s maritime heritage research efforts.
“The I-400 has been on our ‘to-find’ list for some time. It was the first of its kind of only three built, so it is a unique and very historic submarine,” said Kerby. …
“These historic properties in the Hawaiian Islands recall the critical events and sacrifices of World War II in the Pacific, a period which greatly affected both Japan and the United States and shaped the Pacific region as we now know it,” said (Hans) Van Tilburg, maritime heritage coordinator for NOAA in the Pacific Islands region. “Our ability to interpret these unique weapons of the past and jointly understand our shared history is a mark of our progress from animosity to reconciliation. That is the most important lesson that the site of the I-400 can provide today.”
Photo: The Japanese I-400. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
— Alia Wong
Presidential proclamation 2013:
Thanksgiving offers each of us the chance to count our many blessings — the freedoms we enjoy, the time we spend with loved ones, the brave men and women who defend our Nation at home and abroad. This tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans.
Photo: Michelle, Malia, Barry and Sasha. (The White House)
The president and his people are tooting their own horn, trying to get some good press for a change on the Affordable Care Act . (Perhaps you’ve heard of the website problems.)
According to a press release from the White House today:
Seniors and people with disabilities with Medicare prescription drug plan coverage saved $8.9 billion to date on their prescription drugs thanks to the Affordable Care Act, according to new data released today by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
In Hawaii, 15,318 seniors and people with disabilities saved $14,109,905, or an average of $921 per beneficiary, during the first 10 months of 2013. Overall, seniors in Hawaii have saved $35,300,393 since passage of the Affordable Care Act.
At the same time, these seniors will be free to use more of their Social Security benefit cost of living adjustment on what they choose because the Medicare Part B premium will not increase in 2014, thanks to the health care law’s successful efforts to keep cost growth low. …
Photo: The White House. (cpence)