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Updates from Sen. Hirono (Jan. 15-22)

MEDIA RELEASE

U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement today to recognize the 42nd anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision:

“As a college student at the University of Hawaii, I wrote my first political letter to Hawaii’s Congressional delegation asking for their position on a woman’s right to choose. At the time, abortion was illegal in nearly every state and Hawaii was considering, and eventually passed, one of the nation’s first laws to partially legalize it.

“It’s been a hard fight, but we’ve come a long way since I was in college to expand and protect women’s health care rights. Today, because of the Affordable Care Act, women have access to critical preventative health care services like contraception and mammograms and are not penalized by insurance companies simply for being a woman. However, the battle over women’s health care continues. In recent years many states have passed laws restricting a women’s fundamental right to choose.

“We must stand vigilant against these attacks on women’s health. Today on the 42nd anniversary of the monumental Roe v. Wade decision, I challenge Congress to reject the extremists and stand on the side of women and middle class families. Instead of endlessly fighting to repeal Roe v. Wade, blocking access to common forms of birth control, and opposing paid family leave, Congress should be focused on making it easier for women to succeed in our 21st century economy. We should make education more affordable, ensure men and women get paid the same wage for the same work, and make it easier for women to balance work and family.”

HIRONO SPEAKS OUT FOR AMERICAN JOBS & SHIPBUILDERS, FIGHTS AGAINST AMENDMENT THAT DISMANTLES JONES ACT

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono took to the Senate floor to speak in opposition to an amendment that would dismantle the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, commonly known as the Jones Act.

The Jones Act requires maritime vessels engaged in shipping goods between U.S. ports to be built in the United States, at least 75 percent owned by United States citizens, and operated by United States citizens. As an island state, Hawaii depends on the reliability offered by American shippers and guaranteed by the Jones Act for fresh food, energy, and other everyday goods.

The Jones Act is also critical to national security because it provides reliable sealift in times of war. Furthermore, the Jones Act ensures our ongoing viability as an ocean power by protecting American shipbuilders and provides solid, well-paying jobs for nearly half a million Americans across the country.

Hirono’s floor speech, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today to speak in opposition to an amendment offered by Senator McCain pertaining to the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, popularly referred to as the Jones Act.

I want to start by staying that the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee has a distinguished record of support for our men and women in the military and cares deeply about our national security.

I would like to take a few minutes this morning to remind my colleagues just why the Jones Act is an essential component of our national security policy and shipbuilding is a foundational component of American manufacturing.

The Jones Act requires that maritime vessels engaged in shipping goods between U.S. ports must meet three requirements: They must be built in the United States, at least 75 percent owned by United States citizens, and operated by United States citizens. The Jones Act helps to shore up our national security by providing reliable sealift in times of war. It ensures our ongoing viability as an ocean power by protecting American shipbuilders.

As a result, the Jones Act provides solid, well-paying jobs for nearly half a million Americans from Virginia to Hawaii.

In short, the Jones Act promotes national security and American job creation. Therefore, I am unclear why some of my colleagues are opposed to this common-sense law.

I don’t simply say this as a member from an island state where we depend on the reliability offered by American shippers for fresh food, energy, and other everyday goods. But I say this as a Senator that cares deeply about supporting our strong and growing middle class and creating American jobs.

First, shipbuilding is a major job creating industry. According to the Maritime Administration, there were 107,000 people directly employed by roughly 300 shipyards across 26 states in in 2013. Additionally, shipyards indirectly employed nearly 400,000 people across the country.

Senator McCain’s amendment would specifically knock out the Jones Act provision that requires U.S. flagged ships be built in the United States jeopardizing good-paying, middle class jobs. To me, that’s reason enough to oppose this amendment.

Secondly, this is not the time to create the instability this amendment would directly cause. After struggling through tough times, America’s shipbuilding industry is coming back. Both this Congress and the administration have long stressed need for creating and keeping manufacturing jobs here at home in the United States. According to the Navy League, there are 15 tanker ships being built here in the U.S. right now and slated to join our U.S. flag fleet.

The fact is these ships don’t create quick turnaround jobs – but are hundreds of thousands of well-paying, long-term manufacturing jobs.

If these ships are not built here in U.S. shipyards by U.S. workers, where will they be built? Where will those jobs go? China? Other Asian counties? Europe?

The shipbuilding industry is rebounding. Repealing the Jones Act is a step in the wrong direction. Instead of dismantling a policy that supports American jobs, Congress should be focused on doing more to promote and grow American manufacturing.

While the shipbuilding industry is rebounding, Congress should be focusing on promoting and growing American manufacturing.

Repealing the Jones Act’s requirement to build ships here in the United States will unquestionably cost U.S. jobs and weaken our position as a manufacturing leader. These are two strikes against this amendment.

The third and final strike is the fact that the amendment would undermine our national and homeland security.

The Jones Act’s requirements—along with the American shipbuilding and maritime industries they underpin— provide American built ships and crews for use by the Department of Defense in times of need. It is easy to see why the Navy and Coast Guard strongly oppose repeal of the Jones Act. The Defense Department has concluded:

“We believe that the ability of the nation to build and maintain a U.S.-flag fleet is in the national interest, and we also believe it is in the interest of the DOD for U.S. shipbuilders to maintain a construction capability for commercial vessels.”

Therefore, this amendment has three strikes against it.

If adopted, this amendment would dismantle the Jones Act, costing American jobs, hurting American manufacturing, and undermining our national security. I ask my colleagues to stand with me and nearly half a million middle class Americans and vote against this amendment if is brought up for a vote.

I yield the floor.

FILIPINO VETERANS PROMISE ACT

Sens. Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Dean Heller (R-NV) joined with Congresswoman Grace Meng in introducing the Filipino Veterans Promise Act, a bipartisan bill that would help all Filipino World War II veterans receive benefits that they earned for their service to the United States. These veterans fought alongside Americans, but were denied veterans’ benefits because they weren’t included on rosters that the United States later used to establish service.

“We have heard the stories of how numerous Filipino soldiers were afraid to record their names during World War II for fear the enemy would obtain roster lists and retaliate against them,” said Hirono. “This bill will provide Filipino World War II veterans a process to prove that they indeed served and are eligible for the benefits they’ve been promised. We must now work to ensure every surviving veteran who served shoulder-to-shoulder with American forces receives this well-earned benefit.”

“Many Filipino veterans who served during World War II call Nevada home. Unfortunately, they have yet to receive the benefits they earned and deserve. The Filipino Veterans Promise Act helps fulfill America’s promise and ensures these veterans are treated fairly and with respect,” said Heller. “Since my first days in the Senate, I have fought for this legislation because of its importance to the Filipino community. That’s why I take great pride in this bill. I am pleased Senator Hirono and Congresswoman Meng joined in introducing this piece of bipartisan legislation.”

“Filipino veterans are entitled to the same recognition and benefits that all former U.S. service members receive,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng.“Filipino veterans made huge sacrifices for America during World War II. They fought side by side with U.S. troops and put their lives on the line to preserve and protect our democracy. It is unconscionable that they continue to be denied the benefits they earned for their service to our country. We must immediately right this wrong and provide Filipino veterans with the benefits that they have been owed for far too long. That is why I am sponsoring this important bill, and I urge all my colleagues in both chambers to pass this legislation as soon as possible.”

After World War II, the U.S. Army created the Approved Revised Reconstructed Guerilla Roster of 1948, also known as the “Missouri List,” based on individuals who came forward after the war to receive health care. This list has been used by the military to verify those who served alongside U.S. troops in the Philippines. It is possible that some Filipinos who fought were not added to this list and could be improperly denied benefits.

The Filipino Veterans Promise Amendment would direct the Department of Defense (DOD), in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to establish a process for determining whether certain individuals meet the necessary service requirements to receive veterans’ benefits and subsequently be verified as a Veteran by the United States Army.

HIRONO ANNOUNCES CLASS OF 2019 NOMINEES TO U.S. SERVICE ACADEMIES

Hirono announced her nomination list of 32 students to the U.S. military service academies for the Class of 2019. The students’ applications are now being considered by the four academies for final selections. The four military service academies are: the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy, the U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy.

“Inspired by the many generations of Hawaii men and women who have answered the call to service, these young adults exemplify the finest of our island state. I am proud to nominate these candidates and certain that each of them will represent Hawaii in fine fashion as the continue the application process,” said Hirono.

U.S. Senators and Representatives submit nominations to the four service academies. Each academy’s director of admissions then selects from the submitted lists of nominees who are measured on their scholastic achievement, leadership experience, school involvement, athletic and extra-curricular activities, community contributions and volunteer or employment experiences. Nomination does not guarantee appointment.

Hirono’s Class of 2019 Academy Nominations:

U.S. Naval Academy

Lael Y. Sommer (Kailua), Punahou School
Gordan H. Kowalkowski (Honolulu), Punahou School
Rebecca Walton (Waipio), Mid-Pacific Institute
Kimberly M. Uehisa (Honolulu), Island Pacific Academy
Nicole Grimm (Kailua), Kalaheo High School
Trevyn H. Maruyama (Ewa Beach), Iolani School
Benjamin M. Wuthrich (Kihei), Baldwin High School
Tyler M. Kiyota (Kihei), Seabury Hall
Kristen N. Kadooka (Kailua), Naval Academy Preparatory School
Rene A. Valentine (Honolulu), Damien Memorial School

U.S. Air Force Academy

Angela L. Ortiz (Honolulu), Kalani High School
Sarina K. Wyrick (Hilo), St. Joseph School
David V. Kop (Honolulu), Punahou School
Christine Lew (Ewa Beach), Campbell High School
Noah H. Faurot (Kailua), Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama
Koa A. Knitter (Honolulu), New Mexico Military Institute
Thomas N. Tibbetts (Honolulu), Punahou School
Noah N. Crabbe (Honolulu), Kamehameha Schools – Kapalama
Austin L. Faulkner (Honolulu), Moanalua High School
Haoran D. Deng (Wailuku), Baldwin High School

U.S. Military Academy at West Point

Nathanael H. Endo (Waianae), Waianae High School
Jake T. Dohrn (Honolulu), Punahou School
Hallie H. Pound (Kailua), Sacred Hearts Academy
Kate M. Machorek (Kalaheo), Kauai Community College
Autumn-Rose K. Begley (Kapaa), Kapaa High School
Michael Chasen (Kula), Seabury Hall
Rene A. Valentine (Honolulu), Damien Memorial School
Sarah E. Preston (Honolulu), Moanalua High School
Matthew J. Lee (Honolulu), Punahou School
Robert T. Heckman (Kailua), Punahou School

U.S. Merchant Marine Academy

Matthew K. Mori (Kula), King Kekaulike High School
Micah K. B. Faurot (Kailua), Windward Community College

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