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Isle lawmakers accept Congressional committee assignments

Hawaii 24/7 Staff

Now the formal ceremonies are over, the work begins. Hawaii’s Congressional delegation got some of their assignments Friday.

Hawaii’s senior member of the Senate, Brian Schatz, was named to the U.S. Senate Committees on Energy and Natural Resources, Indian Affairs and Commerce.

“I could not have asked for better assignments for the needs and future of our state. Energy is a continuation of the work I have been doing in clean energy and transition fuels. I see this as a two-way opportunity where I can help direct financial resources to Hawaii,” Schatz said.

“The Commerce Committee is very important because of its breadth — covering infrastructure like rail and roads as well as the oceans. As we work our way through economic recovery and create the right kind of future for our state and country, this is a pivotal committee. I’m really looking forward to serving on it.”

Schatz is the lone freshman senator to be named to that committee.

“And, as Hawaii continues as a test bed for clean energy, focus the eyes of Congress and the country to what we are doing here,” he said. “Ultimately we want to direct interest here and spur international technology development in the islands.”

Schatz said the Commerce Committee covers infrastructure including rail and roads, as well as the oceans. He was the only freshman senator to be named in this influential and powerful committee.

“Indian Affairs is as an assignment I wanted because of its importance to Native Hawaiians and all the people of Hawaii. There is a lot of work ahead to attain what is right for Native Hawaiians with respect to federal recognition, and I will do my utmost to build from the groundwork that has already been laid by Senator Akaka and Senator Inouye,” he said.

Schatz added that he has not yet received subcommittee assignments and will work to serve on those that are most relevant for Hawaii.

“It may be cold in Washington, but I have received a warm welcome from Senate leadership and these assignments are evidence of a high level of cooperation that will benefit our State,” he said.

Schatz said he will continue the work started by Sen. Daniel Akaka and Sen. Daniel Inouye in the Indian Affairs Committee with regards to Native Hawaiian federal recognition.

Newly minted Sen. Mazie Hirono has been assigned to the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

“Our military’s presence in Hawaii not only plays a critical role in our national security but also in driving our state’s economy and supporting thousands of jobs in the public and private sectors,” Hirono said. “I look forward to partnering with my colleague on the House Armed Services Committee, Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa, in preserving Hawaii’s important role in our national security.”

Hanabusa also serves on the House Natural Resources Committee.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is assigned to the House Foreign Affairs Committee and House Homeland Security Committee.

“As the U.S. pivots its focus toward the Asia-Pacific region, my work on the Foreign Affairs Committee will ensure Hawaii benefits from, and provides leadership in, this shift in policy and strategy,” Gabbard said. “By drawing on military background and experience leading counterterrorism training during my deployment to Kuwait, I plan to bring unique insights and a firsthand perspective to my position on the Homeland Security Committee. Given Hawaii’s location and crucial international ports, I will work to bring into focus the impact our nation’s Homeland Security policies have on the islands.”

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