Former U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka is the honorary statewide chair for U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa's campaign for the U.S. Senate.
D.R. Horton-Schuler executive Cameron Nekota and retired banker Walter Dods are Hanabusa’s co-chairs.
"A big Mahalo to all of our community leaders who are lending their time and effort to our campaign," Hanabusa said in a press release earlier this year. “I am deeply humbled to have their support and grateful for their help reaching out to our communities.”
Photo: Irene Hirano Inouye and the late Dan Inouye, and Rep. Hanabusa and husband John Souza. (Hanabusa for Hawaii)
The U.S. Senate this week unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Dean Heller (R-NV), Harry Reid (D-NV) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) “that provides expedited tax relief for Americans making charitable donations in support of Typhoon Haiyan recovery efforts in the Philippines,” according to Hirono’s office.
The Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act aims to “spur donations” to charitable groups by allowing taxpayers who donate to relief efforts to receive tax benefits faster than usual.
The bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Eric Swalwell (CA-15) and Mike Thompson (CA-05), who Hirono’s office says “will be working to get the bill a vote” in the coming months. U.S. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Tulsi Gabbard are co-sponsors.
“Nearly four months have passed since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, leaving behind as many as 6,000 dead, almost 1,800 missing and more than a million destroyed homes,” Hirono said in a press release. “Given the great deal of help still needed, the Philippines Charitable Giving Assistance Act will provide tax relief this year for families who have already donated and incentivize others to make new contributions.”
Photo: Providing vaccinations to protect against disease after Typhoon Haiyan. (DFID - UK Department for International Development)
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa explains her “home state’s obsession with SPAM in Hawaiian cuisine,” in a video clip from The Washington Post.
She also tells “unheard stories about the late Sen. Daniel Inouye" and notes how many miles she’s racked up on all those flights from D.C. to Hawaii.
Hanabusa is running against U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary.
Photo: Screen shot, March 7, 2014. (Post TV)
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz's campaign says former Hawaii Senate President Norman Mizuguchi, educator Mary Matayoshi and businessman Roland Casamina will serve as co-chairs.
"These are three leaders who have in different ways contributed remarkably to the betterment of Hawaii," Schatz said in a press release. "We are strengthened by their leadership and counsel not only in the campaign but in all our actions to make good things happen for our state and country.”
Schatz faces U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa in the Aug. 9 Democratic primary to fill out the remaining two years of the late Dan Inouye's Senate term.
Photo: Screen shot, March 7, 2014. (Brian Schatz for Senate)
The Senate failed to come up with the 60 votes it needed to advance the Military Justice Improvement Act, a bill that would alter the way the military handles sexual assault cases. The measure failed 55-45.
Sen. Mazie Hirono spoke in support of the bill yesterday, blasting the Pentagon for its opposition to a proposal to have military prosecutors — instead of a victim’s commander — respond to sexual assault cases.
Hirono says she “completely disagree[s]” with the idea that the proposed change would get in the way of “good order and discipline” in the hands of a commander. More from Hirono:
"Other examples of ‘good order and discipline’ used by senior military leadership to block changes to the status quo include: Integrating military units; Opening certain military specialties to women; And allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the military. By all accounts, I would say that these were successful changes that did not destroy good order and discipline.”
Over on the House side, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is continuing to fight for the changes that the Senate bill proposed. Last year, she and Michigan Republican Dan Benishek introduced an identical bill as a companion to the Senate-introduced Military Justice Improvement Act.
The bipartisan support for that measure may be enough to carry it forward. (UPDATE: Gabbard’s team says bipartisan support in the House isn’t necessarily an indicator of whether the companion measure will pass. The failed Senate bill also had broad bipartisan support.)
“Men and women in our uniformed ranks deserve a system of justice system that works for them, and leadership that truly has zero tolerance for sexual assault in the ranks,” Gabbard said in a statement Thursday.
Ken Lund’s photo used under a Creative Commons license.
Two competing bills aimed at curbing sexual assault in the military are up for Senate votes on Thursday. (Here’s background on both measures from The New York Times.)
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been an outspoken supporter of a bill introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. The legislation would make it so military prosecutors — instead of a victim’s direct commander — would be tasked with handling reports of sexual assault.
"Our responsibility as a country, as Congress, as the military, is to insure we have a transparent, accountable, judicial process for those who are perpetrators of violent crime," Gabbard said in an interview with Civil Beat last week.
Gabbard, who serves in the Hawaii Army National Guard, told me Gillibrand is “optimistic” about her bill’s chances.
— Adrienne LaFrance
Anthony Quintano’s photo of American flags used under a Creative Commons license.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard this week launched a new “virtual office” for constituent services, casework and information about her work in Hawaii and Washington, D.C.
"I encourage our residents to take advantage of the services my team and I are able to provide, including assistance with veterans benefits, Social Security and Medicare, and passports,” Gabbard said in a press release. “My virtual office allows people across our islands to stay in touch with me, share their concerns or questions, and learn about how their voice is being heard in Congress.”
Click here to review the virtual office’s highlights.
Photo: Virtual JPEG. (Rep. Tulsi Gabbard)
U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) joined religious leaders, advocates for women and minimum wage workers at a press conference yesterday in Washington, D.C., “to urge Republicans to support raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, which would lift the wages of 15 million American women.”
"Nearly two-thirds of those earning the minimum wage are women, and a single mother working full-time in a minimum wage job to support her children earns just $15,000 per year — below the poverty line for a single parent," according to Hirono’s office.
The announcement was timed for Saturday’s observation of International Women’s Day. Here at home, the Hawaii Legislature is moving on bills to increase the state’s minimum wage, which has been $7.25 an hour since 2007.
Photo: Sen. Mazie Hirono, left, March 5, 2014. (Sen. Hirono’s Office)
Hawaii’s congressional representatives have reacted to President Obama’s $3.9 trillion budget request this week. Some highlights:
• U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono:
"The President’s Budget takes significant steps to close the opportunity gap by supporting middle class families and those working to get into the middle class,” said in a press release. “This is a broad plan that strengthens our economy by investing in our workforce at all stages of learning – starting with funding for high quality early learning programs, investing in STEM education, making college more affordable and investing in job training for workers who need help getting back on their feet.”
• U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz:
"President Obama’s budget proposal takes major steps forward to make sure we have an economy that provides opportunities for everyone,” Schatz said in a press release. “It builds on the progress we made in Congress’s two-year Budget Agreement to protect Hawaii priorities, Social Security, Medicare and veterans. Budgets are about priorities and choices.”
• U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa:
“I believe the President’s budget presents some strong positives, including his proposal for a minimum wage increase and doubling the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers,” said in a press release. “The good news for Hawaii includes funding for Native Hawaiian healthcare and housing and $250 million for the Honolulu rail project.”
• U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:
"Congress must recognize the unique role that airline travel plays in Hawaii," Gabbard said in a press release, which noted that the Aviation Passenger Security Fee increases again under the budget proposal, from $5.60 per one-way trip to $6 (Congress recently approved an increase from $2.50 to $5.60 per trip). "An additional airline fee increase balances the budget on the backs of our people who depend on affordable air travel just to get to work, access healthcare, and visit their family and friends.”
Hawaii expenditures in the budget include the following: $250 million for Honolulu rail, $96 million in military construction for Fort Shafter and $53 million for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, $11 million for the East-West Center, $27 million for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions, $63 million for state energy programs and $2 million for Ala Kahakai Trail on the Big Island.
Photo: The White House. (Kathleen Tyler Conklin)
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was one of just 27 Democrats who sided with House Republicans today to pass “a bill to delay tax penalties for failing to buy health insurance this year under ObamaCare.”
According to this article in The Hill, “The vote, which reflects growing Republican frustration with President Obama's selective implementation of the law, again shows some level of Democratic support for a legislative change to the law. Several House bills aimed at making the health law more transparent have also received support from a few dozen Democrats.”
The vote was 250-160, heavily along party lines.
"People continue to face difficulties signing up for new health plans, and the security of their personal information online is still in question," Gabbard said in a press release. "Those who have been unable to sign up for their health plan due to circumstances outside their control should not be unfairly punished with a penalty. Large corporations are already getting special treatment and delays; it’s only fair that hard-working individuals are treated the same.”
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa voted against the measure, which now goes to the Senate.
"This marks the House GOP’s 50th vote to weaken, undermine, or repeal the Affordable Care Act, and we just voted on a bill identical to this one back in July,” Hanabusa said in a press release. “This is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars and I encourage my Republican colleagues to work with Democrats to improve, rather than destroy, this historic health care law.”
Photo: The U.S. Capitol. (Ron Cogswell)
The Beltway newspaper Roll Call this morning published a feature about the Senate battle between Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Sen. Brian Schatz.
Though this race already feels like it’s been going on forever, Roll Call points out that the real fight is just beginning: “ Both candidates opened campaign headquarters just in the past month, while the TV ads and significant canvassing of the various islands remain in the offing.”
In other words, this campaign is about to get really interesting.
Photo: Hanabusa v. Schatz. (Civil Beat)
— Adrienne LaFrance
The Washington Post has this story following up on the pledge from 244 congressional lawmakers who said they would forgo their salaries during the 16-day government shutdown last fall.
As Civil Beat reported at the time, they included all four of Hawaii’s delegates.
• Sen. Mazie Hirono: $ 5,275, her “full salary for 16 days” to Lanakila Pacific, Hawaii Meals on Wheels, Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council, Hale Mahaolu and Kauai Economic Opportunity
• Sen. Brian Schatz: did not disclose who received the donations.
• Rep. Colleen Hanabusa: $5,400, her “after-tax salary during the government shutdown,” to Hawaii Meals on Wheels.
• Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: donated an undisclosed sum to the U.S. Treasury.
Photo: Protesters outside the U.S. Capitol, October 2014.
U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, released this statement yesterday in response to recent developments in Ukraine:
I remain concerned about the escalating situation in Ukraine. National sovereignty is a universally respected norm, and I strongly condemn any violation of this international standard.
We must urge leaders and international organizations in the region to work towards a diplomatic solution to the crisis in Ukraine—one that does not end in military intervention. It is my hope that as he has in the past, President Obama will consult Congress before taking any further action in this situation.”
Photo: Ukraine protest, Feb. 3, 2014. (blu-news.org)
U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz has been named chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Tourism, Competitiveness, and Innovation.
The announcement was made by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. The new committee falls under Commerce.
According to a press release from Schatz’s office, he has outlined a plan “to boost tourism by working to expand visas and renew successful programs, like Brand USA, to support jobs and grow Hawaii’s local economy.”
Photo: Sen. Brian Schatz and Iolani graduate and GWU student Malia Brennan, 2013. (Sen. Brian Schatz)
President Barack Obama has reappointed Gov. Neil Abercrombie to the Council of Governors, comprised of 10 governors that focus on “national security, homeland defense, synchronization and integration of state and military activities in the United States and matters of mutual interest pertaining to the National Guard,” according to a press release.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue serving on the Council of Governors, which gives Hawaii a strong voice, together with our congressional delegation, in future decisions regarding the protection of our state and nation,” Abercrombie said in a statement. “During a productive and successful trip this month to the National Governors Association Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C., I attended a Council of Governors meeting that addressed the Pentagon’s recently proposed cuts to the Army and Air National Guard.”
While in Washington, the administration says the governor also participated in NGA sessions “on education, job training, homeland security and public safety, as well as attended four meetings/events at the White House.”
Photo: Press conference on Healthcare Transformation Plan, Feb. 27, 2014. (Governor Neil Abercrombie)