Categorized | Government, News

Updates from Sen. Hirono (Jan. 28-Feb. 25)

MEDIA RELEASE

Hawaii’s congressional delegation has announced the Hawaii Public Housing Authority (HPHA) will receive a $9,036,788 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) as part of its Capital Fund Program for Public Housing Agencies.

“Safe, affordable housing is a basic necessity that every person deserves,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “This important investment by HUD will make sure the Hawaii Public Housing Authority has the resources to help build and maintain public housing units in our most vulnerable communities. As a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, I am committed to ensuring that Hawaii receives its fair share so that those individuals and families most in need have a safe place to call home.”

“Having a safe and stable home is a basic necessity. However, 28,000 Hawaii residents are on wait lists for affordable housing,” said Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii). “Every family in Hawaii deserves a place to call home and investing in families striving to enter the middle class is one of the best investments we can make. This much needed grant will allow the Hawaii Public Housing Authority to modernize and develop affordable housing across the state.”

“Too many families in Hawaii are struggling just to stay in their homes,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02). “This funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development will help replace distressed units, support jobs in our community, and bring quality affordable housing within reach for many Hawaii families. With this grant, the Hawaii Housing Authority will be able to improve housing units across our state.”

“The lack of affordable housing is an issue that is reaching a critical point in Hawaii,” said Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01). “We need to take action and we need to do so now, that is why I am pleased to announce with the rest of Hawaii’s Federal Delegation the granting of over $9,000,000 to Hawaii from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. These funds will go a long way in helping to provide much needed renovations to public housing developments, while creating new affordable housing and providing a stimulus to our local economy.”

HUD’s Capital Fund program offers funding to approximately 3,100 public housing authorities annually to build, repair, renovate and/or modernize public housing in their communities.

Funding may be used to make large-scale improvements such as replacing roofs or making energy-efficient upgrades to replace old plumbing and electrical systems.

HIRONO VOTES TO CONFIRM CARTER AS NEXT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s (SASC) Subcommittee on Seapower and member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, released the following statement on the Senate vote to confirm Ashton Carter as the next Secretary of Defense:

“Ashton Carter’s wealth of experience and institutional knowledge will serve him well as he steps into his new role of Secretary of Defense. As a Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I had the opportunity to personally meet with Dr. Carter and question him during his confirmation hearing and I look forward to working with him into the future.

“As the nation rebalances to the Asia-Pacific, I will continue to remind our leaders, including Dr. Carter, that Hawaii holds strategic importance for our force structure in the Pacific. Additionally, I will continue to stress to Dr. Carter and my colleagues in the Senate that we should eliminate the sequester, which has negatively impacted our military’s readiness and therefore impacted the overall effectiveness of our military.”

In last week’s SASC confirmation hearing, Hirono publicly questioned Defense Secretary nominee Carter on the military’s continuing focus on the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. Hirono also met with Defense Secretary nominee Carter ahead of his SASC confirmation hearing.

During that discussion with Defense Secretary nominee Carter, Hirono stressed Hawaii’s strategic importance for our force structure in the Pacific and how sequestration cuts have negatively impacted our military’s readiness and therefore impacted the overall effectiveness of our military.

DOH RECEIVES $9.43M

The Hawaii Congressional Delegation has announced that the Hawaii Department of Health will receive $9.43 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to support programs for pregnant mothers and families with young children.

“The steps we take to support our youngest keiki often create a foundation for success in school and in life,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono. “These grants will be paid back many times over as families who participate in home-visiting programs enter school better prepared. I was proud to vote to create the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting grants as part of the Affordable Care Act, and am pleased that Hawaii families continue to benefit from this valuable program.”

“A child’s development is more critical in the first few years of life than at any other time,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), a member of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. “These funds will provide more Hawaii families with access to in-home visits from nurses and social workers, ensuring parents have the support they need for their child’s healthy development.”

“This grant from the Department of Health and Human Services will help working families in Hawaii by providing the resources necessary to improve child health in a cost-effective way,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “By funding local home-visit programs, we are helping families prevent child injuries, reduce emergency department visits, and improve economic self-sufficiency. The programs sustained by his DHHS grant promote the well-being of our keiki.”

“I am happy to join the other members of Hawaii’s Federal Delegation in announcing over $9,000,000 in new grants to the State of Hawaii Department of Health,” said Congressman Mark Takai. “These grants will be directed towards programs that provide for maternal, infant, and early childhood home visiting and education services. These programs have improved the outcomes for many children and families and I look forward to a greater expansion of these services to serve our community here in Hawaii.”

The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program supports pregnant women and families with children up to five years old.

The Hawaii Department of Health first received an MIECHV grant in 2010. It was used to establish the Hawaii Home Visiting Network, which is made up of 10 community based organizations that offer various home visiting programs.

The Hawaii Department of Health will use the funds to provide voluntary home visits to low-income parents to learn about health, child development, school readiness, and referrals to other services.

KEY IMPROVEMENTS TO NATIVE HAWAIIAN EDUCATION ACT

The Hawaii Congressional Delegation introduced a bipartisan bill that will extend and improve the Native Hawaiian Education Act, an existing program that has created educational opportunities for thousands of Native Hawaiian children and families.

“Thousands of Native Hawaiian students have benefitted from the Native Hawaiian Education Act and over the past several years I have had the opportunity to hear many of their inspiring stories firsthand,” said Hirono. “Our bill will increase the program’s accountability and transparency, and guarantee that future generations of Native Hawaiians will continue to receive a culturally relevant education. I will continue to work closely with my Hawaii and Alaska delegation colleagues to invest in quality education opportunities for our keiki and protect our special commitment to the Native Hawaiian community.”

“For decades, the Native Hawaiian Education Act has provided the critical resources necessary to confront the unique educational needs of our Native Hawaiian community,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “Our bill would make key improvements that would expand grant opportunities and make the Native Hawaiian Education Council more accountable to the communities it serves.”

“The Native Hawaiian Education Act empowers our native communities that have largely been underserved, through education, and preserves the rich and unique culture, language, and values our native people,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “For the last 27 years, the NHEA has served as a critical and innovative program that enables our communities to thrive. Parents and educators from across the islands count on the expanded educational opportunity this legislation provides for their children, and it is vital that we come together to empower these young students to succeed.”

“The improvements being introduced to the Native Hawaiian Education Act will help to better a program that has assisted generations of Native Hawaiian students. The changes will allow for increased access to grants and greater clarity for the evolving educational needs of the Native Hawaiian population,” said Congressman Mark Takai. “I am happy to see the bipartisan show of support for this important bill, I look forward to continuing the improvements we started and preserving the special relationship we have with the Native Hawaiian community.”

Hirono, Schatz, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Senate version of the Native Hawaiian Reauthorization Act of 2015. Gabbard, Takai, and Rep. Don Young (R-AK) are original sponsors of the House bill.

The Native Hawaiian Education Act provides grants for innovative Native Hawaiian educational programs across the state and created the Native Hawaiian Education Council to provide recommendations to the United States Department of Education about the needs of, and priorities for, Native Hawaiian students.

Grantees have provided innovative education opportunities for Native Hawaiian students ranging from the Tutu and Me Traveling Preschool program to better preparing Native Hawaiian students for pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.

The Native Hawaiian Education Reauthorization Act would extend this vital grant program for five years and increases the program’s transparency by designating stakeholders such as elected officials and University of Hawaii officials with at least five years of experience in Native Hawaiian education to serve on the Council.

The Council will also be required to hold yearly community consultations on each of Hawaii’s six major islands and submit an annual report to the U.S. Department of Education explaining its funding recommendations.

The bill also aims to strengthen the Council’s voice by requiring an annual report from the U.S. Department of Education on the program’s funding and results.

The bill would also clarify that Native Hawaiian charter schools are eligible to apply directly for grants.

HIRONO, SENATE & HOUSE DEMOCRATS, CHAMPION INITIATIVE TO EXPAND ACCESS TO EARLY EDUCATION

As she continues to lay out the markers for the 114th Congress, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five.

The PRE-K Act helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing a federal-state partnerships that incentivizes states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.

“The investments we make in our youngest keiki are paid back in full by enhancing our nation’s competitiveness in our global economy,” said Hirono. “Hawaii educators have told me that many kids start kindergarten already behind. Our children deserve the best chance to succeed and our educators need all the tools we can give them to put students on track to being lifelong learners. That’s why, beginning when I was Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor 20 years ago, I have been committed to quality early learning to help kids start kindergarten ready to succeed. Where you live should not determine what chance you get in life, and this bill will ensure states like Hawaii can create effective, quality state preschool programs. This bill focuses on quality because it is what makes the biggest difference in educational outcomes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate and moving this bill forward.”

A recent White House report summarizes what decades of research has shown: high quality early learning yields over $8 for every $1 invested, by helping kids learn to read on time, stay in school, avoid crime, get good jobs, pay taxes, and avoid other social services later in life.

The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.

States that already have a high-quality preschool program could get grants to improve quality and expand to serve more children.

Other states with small or newer programs could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. PRE-K Act funds could help states hire and train early educators; expand preschool days and hours; or provide comprehensive services such as health screenings and meals.

Hirono is a nationally recognized leader on early childhood education has long advocated for quality early learning.

As Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor, she introduced the Pre-Plus program that provided preschool facilities on public school campuses. She first introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act as a U.S. House Member, and it passed the House Education and Workforce Committee on a bipartisan vote in 2008. She co-introduced the Strong Start for America’s Children Act as part of President Obama’s early learning plan in 2013.

The 2014 federal spending bill included a “down payment” to fund federal Preschool Development Grants, with a similar structure as Hirono’s PRE-K Act. In December 2014, Hawaii was among 18 states to win a one-time, four-year preschool grant.

Enacting the PRE-K Act would authorize longer-term funding for all states to have the opportunity to begin, strengthen, and expand their preschool systems.

The PRE-K Act was introduced with the following original cosponsors: Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“The early years are some of the most crucial in the educational development of our children. Keeping a child on the right track and instilling a love for learning early in life can make all the difference later. We must make sure no one starts behind the curve when they enter the classroom and that’s why expanding access to these early childhood education programs should be a no-brainer,” Durbin said.

“As a mother of two, I understand how important it is to make sure our children have access to a quality education,” said Gillibrand. “By improving and expanding access to pre-k, we are not only investing in our children but we are also investing in our economic future. Few investments yield a better return than pre-k which gives our children the strong foundation they need to learn, succeed in the long term, and grow our economy. This initiative will help more children get access to the resources they need to start out strong, so that they can go as far as their own hard work will take them.”

“Expanding access to early childhood education helps close the achievement gap and prepare students for a lifetime of learning,” said Kaine, who expanded the Virginia Preschool Initiative as Governor. “To keep our economy strong, we need a long-term plan that produces the best workforce in the world. A key step in growing our talented workforce is ensuring that all children are prepared to enter school ready to learn. Last year, I successfully urged the U.S. Department of Education to give Virginia a $17.5 million Preschool Development Grant to expand high-quality preschool programs for children from low and moderate income families. The PRE-K Act would build upon this grant, providing Virginia and the nation with opportunities to strengthen and expand our preschools.”

“Throughout our history, Wisconsin has made real investments in early childhood education because we understand that a strong start helps build a strong middle class. Our nation must make it a priority to invest in early education for all, so that the doors of opportunity are open to every child and help provide them the skills they need to realize their dreams,” said Baldwin. “I’m proud to join this effort to renew our commitment to the proven foundation we know that early childhood education provides. This is a critical investment for our middle class and for our future.”

“Every child deserves the best education possible. But in Hawaii and across the country, too many children are unprepared for school simply because states don’t have the resources to invest in early education programs,” said Schatz. “Our legislation would help states like Hawaii establish new, high-quality early education programs that give children a better shot at success in school and in life.”

“We cannot wait until our children are adolescents or adults to invest in their education,” Brown said. “Study after study shows the importance of high-quality preschool programs in keeping kids in school, preparing them for college or careers, and setting them on a productive path in life. That’s why this bill is so important – investing in high quality early education will ensure the next generation has a head start on the path to success.”

Similar legislation is also being introduced in the House by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Mike Honda (D-CA)

“High-quality early education is essential to a student’s long-term academic success,” said Pocan. “The PRE-K Act will encourage states to make critical investments in our nation’s future and provide better preschool opportunities for children. Improving educational outcomes depends on reaching children early to ensure kids are prepared to succeed.”

“The Pre-K Act makes critical investments in our nation’s early-education programs,” Honda said. “The matching grants for Pre-K programs and certification requirements for Pre-K teachers are sensible steps to improve our early education. These steps are a key component of the Equity and Excellence Commission’s recommendations for tackling the inequity problem in our schools, and I am excited to sponsor legislation that translates those recommendations into action. We need to keep working to ensure that each and every child gets an excellent education, starting as early as possible.”

The PRE-K Act of 2015 has been endorsed by the following national and Hawaii organizations:

· American Association of University Women (AAUW)

· American Federation of Teachers (AFT)

· Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)

· Council of Administrators of Special Education – CEC

· Early Care and Education Consortium

· First Focus Campaign for Children

· Good Beginnings Alliance

· Hawaii Business Roundtable

· HighScope Educational Research Foundation

· Learning Disabilities Association of America

· National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)

· National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)

· National Education Association (NEA)

· National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)

· Parents As Teachers

· School Social Work Association of America (SSWA)

HIRONO NAMED TO LEADERSHIP ROLE ON SENATE ENERGY & NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono has been named the Ranking Member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water and Power.

Hirono will also serve on the Energy and Public Lands Subcommittees.

“Hardworking middle class families, farmers, and small business deserve affordable energy and abundant clean water supplies. I look forward to working with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the subcommittee’s new Chairman to find bipartisan solutions to meet the needs of a growing sustainable economy in Hawaii and across the country. In addition to my new leadership role on the Water and Power Subcommittee, I look forward to working with all of my committee colleagues to work on many issues many issues important to Hawaii including transitioning to a cleaner, more sustainable energy future and building on the tradition of conservation that has gone hand in hand with our economic growth for generations.”

The Subcommittee on Water and Power is responsible for overseeing programs related to irrigation, reclamation projects, including related flood control purposes; power marketing administrations; energy development impacts on water resources; groundwater resources and management; hydroelectric power; low head hydro; and energy related aspects of deepwater ports.

Earlier this year, Hirono was also named the Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Seapower, placing her in a position to oversee matters directly relating to the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps.

HIRONO ON HONOULIULI INTERNMENT CAMP

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Rep. Mark Takai commended President Barack Obama’s designation of the Honouliuli Internment Camp site in Kunia, Oahu.

“The detention of more than 1,000 innocent Hawaii civilians during World War II remains a dark chapter in Hawaii and our nation’s history. The stories of those detained at Honouliuli and internment sites like it across the country are sobering reminders of how even leaders of the greatest nation on Earth can succumb to fear and mistrust and perpetuate great injustice,” said Hirono. “The President’s executive action is an important step in protecting Honouliuli and the stories of those who were detained in our state and across the nation, highlighting an important but often forgotten piece of our national history. Preserving the site has long been a priority for our Hawaii delegation — from Sens. Inouye and Akaka to our current delegation. I will continue to work closely with the administration, state and local leaders as well as my delegation colleagues to ensure federal resources are delivered for this important project.”

“The designation of the Honouliuli camp as a National Monument serves as a solemn reminder that in our nation’s history bedrock civil rights have been disregarded in times of conflict as a result of unfounded fear and panic,” said Gabbard. “Honouliuli was a central piece of the brutal and discriminatory internment system created during World War II; today, the structure remains as a memorial that will educate future generations about the precariousness of freedom in wartime. Mahalo to President Obama and Secretary of the Interior Jewell for recognizing the history of Honouliuli and for making this designation a priority.”

“The internment of Japanese American citizens during World War II is a tragic example of what happens when we allow fear and hatred to take the place of rational and just actions,” said Takai. “Honouliuli will serve as a place where we will be able to educate the coming generations about the importance of civil liberties for all people. Now more than ever, we must learn from the mistakes of the past, and the designation of Honouliuli as a national monument will give Hawaii a chance to shine light on this serious issue. I would like to extend a warm mahalo to President Obama for taking the initiative to preserve this historically significant piece of land.”

Honouliuli Internment Camp’s designation as a national monument comes after years of hard work and collaborative efforts by the public and private community partners including the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii and Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League, who also praised the designation.

“The designation of Honouliuli as a national monument will ensure its future preservation for generations to come. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii applauds President Obama for recognizing the historic significance of the Honouliuli Internment Camp. We thank the President, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and our own congressional delegation for helping us protect Honouliuli as a historic site and as a place to teach the lessons of civil rights, the Constitution and U.S. democracy,” said Carole Hayashino, President and Executive Director of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii.

“By using his power under the Antiquities Act to designate Honouliuli as a national park, President Obama honors the thousands of men and women whose civil rights were violated, and is helping to ensure that the Japanese American wartime experience will never be forgotten,” said Jacce Mikulanec, President of the Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League.

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye included a provision in the Interior Appropriations bill in 2009, requesting the special resource study. A stand-alone bill, (S. 871) the Honouliuli Internment Camp Special Resources Study Act of 2009, was also introduced by Inouye in the 111th Congress, with then-Congresswoman Hirono introducing the companion bill (H.R. 2079) in the House of Representatives.

Sen. Daniel Akaka and Congressman Neil Abercrombie were cosponsors of the respective the bills.

The Honouliuli national monument on Oahu permanently protects a site where Japanese American citizens, resident immigrants, and prisoners of war were held captive during World War II.

The monument will help tell the story of the internment camp’s impact on the Japanese American community and the injustices that occurred there.

The Honouliuli Internment Camp was the largest and longest-used confinement site for Japanese and European Americans and resident immigrants in Hawaii, eventually holding 400 civilian internees and 4,000 prisoners of war.

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HIRONO PRAISES HIGH RANKING OF ‘ISLAND FORESTS AT RISK’ LANDSCAPE PROPOSAL

Following the release of President Obama’s budget, Sen. Mazie K. Hirono praised the unprecedented high ranking of Hawaii’s Collaborative Landscape Proposal, “Island Forests at Risk,” in the fiscal year 2016 budget.

“It is great news for Hawaii that the ‘Island Forests at Risk’ Collaborative Landscape Proposal is included in the President’s budget this year,” said Hirono. “This proposal will provide crucial protection of native species and their habitats. Leading up to the budget release, I reached out to agency leaders to stress the importance of protecting and managing lands on Hawaii and Maui Islands. After several years of hard work, this is the highest ranking the Departments of Interior and Agriculture have given Hawaii’s application, which increases the likelihood of federal support for this vital project.”

Landscape proposals, such as the “Island Forests at Risk” proposal, are efforts through the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Forest Service to strategically conserve and protect endangered species’ habitats, culturally significant areas, and threatened lands across the country. Allocated funding allows the agencies to purchase and conserve lands across the country.

Including the parcels that make up the “Island Forests at Risk” proposal is an effort that has taken several years to achieve. As a House member, Hirono worked with Sens. Daniel K. Inouye and Daniel Akaka on earlier land acquisitions for Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

For the 2013, 2014 and 2015 budgets, landscape proposals were submitted that included land acquisitions for Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hakala National Wildlife Refuge but these were unsuccessful in receiving a high ranking for permanent and current funding.

This year, Hawaii’s proposal again included land acquisitions for Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, both of which are ranked first in their respective agencies’ discretionary funding priority lists.

To stress the importance of protecting and managing these lands on Hawaii and Maui Islands, Hirono met with National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe and spoke with U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. In addition to these federal agencies, Hirono worked closely with the local community, including The Nature Conservancy of Hawaii and Trust for Public Land.

“The rich and unique ecosystems of tropical island forests play a critical role in protecting water quality and providing wildlife habitat as well as many other goods and services,” said Tom Tidwell, Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

“Hawaii is an area of rich biodiversity like few other places on Earth, but it also contains more threatened and endangered species than anywhere else in the United States,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “Preserving remaining native habitat and places like Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge is essential to conserving Hawaii’s wildlife. The “Island Forests at Risk” proposal exemplifies the significance we place on protecting the spectacular fauna and flora of our 50th state.”

Following the unprecedented high ranking of the “Island Forests at Risk” proposal in the President’s budget, Hawaii National Park, Wildlife Refuge and non-profit conservation leaders also praised the request for funding.

“We’d like to thank the entire Hawaii Congressional delegation, past and present, for their help with these proposed projects,” said Jody Kaulukukui, Director of Protection for The Nature Conservancy’s Hawaii Program. “Each and every one of them has been working in the Congress and with the Interior Department over many years to share the critical importance of preserving Hawaii’s natural and cultural heritage and the role these land acquisitions play in that effort. In recent months, the Hawaii delegation has sent letters and Sen. Mazie Hirono met in-person with each of the heads of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service to ensure that those agencies made these projects a priority in the budget request sent to the Congress this week.”

“One third of all birds listed under the Endangered Species Act occur in Hawaii. The Islands Forests at Risk funding will provide critical protection of native species and their habitats,” said Natalie B. Gates, Superintendent of Haleakala National Park. “On Maui, the project will restore the last unprotected piece of sub-alpine habitat as habitat for Threatened and Endangered species, including the iconic Haleakala silversword, the Hawaiian petrel, and the Hawaiian Hoary Bat.”

“These important parcels will protect volcanic features, numerous archaeological sites, pockets of endangered plant communities and over 2 miles of coastline and marine resources. Features representing the earliest arrivals of Polynesians and the prehistoric and historic lava flows and related geologic features, including major lava tube features, are of significant biological and cultural value and will be protected,” said Cindy Orlando, Superintendent of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.” It is these resource values that contribute to the outstanding universal values under which Hawaii Volcanoes National Park was designated a World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve. In addition, this acquisition will enhance wilderness and recreational values adjacent to the existing park boundary.”

“The high ranking of the Islands at Risk proposal for funding under the Land and Water Conservation Fund collaborative conservation projects demonstrates the importance of partnership,” said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Refuge and Monument Supervisor Barry Stieglitz. “By working together we can better protect the habitat vital for native fish and wildlife to survive increasing pressures and threats, including climate change.”

DANIEL K. INOUYE ASIA-PACIFIC CENTER FOR SECURITY STUDIES

The Hawaii Congressional Delegation commemorated the redesignation of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies as the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies.

The redesignation was included in the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act and signed into law by the President in December 2014.

“I was honored to serve in Congress with Sen. Inouye, and was proud to call him a friend,” said Sen. Mazie K. Hirono. “His deep understanding of the strategic importance of Hawaii and the Pacific region will live on through this important part of his legacy. Additionally, Sen. Inouye’s record of bettering Hawaii and our nation and the importance he placed on forging and strengthening relationships over a lifetime in public service is something we work to continue. Naming the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies after Sen. Inouye is appropriate and honors him for exceptional service to our country.”

“No one understood the strategic importance of Hawaii to our national security better than Sen. Daniel K. Inouye,” said Sen. Brian Schatz. “As an early and strong supporter of the Center, he knew that Hawaii was key to our nation’s engagement in the Asia-Pacific region. This is a fitting tribute to Sen. Inouye’s legacy of service to Hawaii and our country.”

“Sen. Daniel Inouye was a fierce advocate for Hawaii, and a veteran dedicated to serving our country, ensuring our strong national defense,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard. “As a larger-than-life public servant who dedicated his life to improving the lives of others, it is a fitting memorial to re-designate the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies as the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, as a constant reminder of the vision and tenacity with which Sen. Inouye served.”

“I am pleased to stand besides my fellow Congressional delegates in announcing the redesignation of the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies as the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies,” said Congressman Mark Takai. “Sen. Inouye was one of the major driving factors behind the creation of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies. He recognized the pivotal role Asia would play moving forward and worked hard to establish this crucial center to forge trusting relationships within the Asia-Pacific region. Sen. Inouye worked tirelessly to look after the best interests for his state and his country. This redesignation will honor the legacy, and dedication of Sen. Inouye to the people of Hawaii.”

The Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies is a U.S. Department of Defense academic institute in Honolulu that analyzes regional and global security issues, fostering dialogue between military and civilian scholars and professionals from the U.S. and Asia-Pacific nations.

HIRONO CALLS FOR END TO POLITICAL GAMES, CONTINUES PUSH FOR CLEAN DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING BILL

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono took to the Senate floor to continue to urge the House and Senate to come together to pass a clean appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security.

From Hirono’s remarks:

“We must fund DHS and resist the temptation to govern through manufactured crises and political games. Our national security is at stake. Surely my colleagues remember when DHS was created in a direct response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001… Of the nearly 200,000 DHS employees across the country, 2,000 are based in Hawaii. Nobody will get paid if DHS shuts down. Some will be furloughed, while many others will be forced as essential employees to continue showing up to work without pay. We count on the Coast Guard, on TSA, on Customs, and on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which are all part of DHS, to be on the job, each and every day.”

Funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to expire on February 27. Earlier in the 114th Congress, the Republican controlled House passed a bill that would fund the Department of Homeland Security in exchange for erasing the President’s necessary, lawful, and reasonable actions to try to address our broken immigration system in the absence of Congressionally-passed comprehensive immigration reform legislation. House Republicans refuse to take up such legislation.

The President has been clear he will veto any policy riders that undo his executive action and harm millions of students and families. The House Republican bill forces an untenable choice between shutting down the Department of Homeland Security or deporting children and families. If a DHS funding bill fails to pass, front-line DHS personnel will continue to work but will not get paid.

Hirono’s full remarks, as prepared for delivery:

Mr. President, I rise today to urge my colleagues to pass a clean appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security, DHS.

We must fund DHS and resist the temptation to govern through manufactured crises and political games. Our national security is at stake.

Surely my colleagues remember when DHS was created in a direct response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Just eleven days after 9/11, DHS started to take shape.

President George W. Bush named Governor Tom Ridge to lead an office to oversee and coordinate a comprehensive and national strategy to safeguard our country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks.

DHS’s mission is to protect our homeland, as their name makes perfectly clear.

DHS is responsible for border security and immigration enforcement. It is tasked with keeping our airports safe through TSA, for emergency management and response through FEMA, and protecting our coasts through the Coast Guard.

As a member on the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, I know how important the work that DHS does in keeping our nation safe.

Let’s take a step back and remember why DHS was created in the first place and what their mission is. Why would we play politics with a department that exists to protect Americans?

DHS funding runs out at the end of this month, and the clock is ticking. The nearly 200,000 who work for DHS do not want us spending valuable time scoring political points – they want the certainty that their important work will be funded by Congress.

If the department is not funded by the end of the month, we will once again resort to passing a continuing resolution to keep the department going. A continuing resolution is only a stop gap. It is a waste of time and money.

As DHS Secretary Johnson said, operating in a stop-and-go cycle of continuing resolutions is like trying to drive across the country on no more than five gallons of gas at a time, and without knowing the distance to the next gas station.

Of the nearly 200,000 DHS employees across the country, 2,000 are based in Hawaii. Nobody will get paid if DHS shuts down. Some will be furloughed, while many others will be forced as essential employees to continue showing up to work without pay. We count on the Coast Guard, on TSA, on Customs, and on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which are all part of DHS, to be on the job, each and every day.

Some of my Republican colleagues insist that before we fund the critical work of homeland security, we must first undo the President’s commonsense immigration actions that help millions of families across this country.

The House bill before us holds DHS funding hostage to make political points against the President. This is a manufactured stand off.

The House bill attacks the undocumented persons who have American born children. The President’s actions enable these families to step out of the shadows, pass background checks, pay their taxes, and work in the open without the daily threat of deportation.

The House bill attacks DREAMers, the students who have been helped through the DACA program for nearly 3 years.

Just yesterday, President Obama met with six DREAMers in the Oval Office who represent some of the very best our country has to offer. The House bill says to these DREAMers, you too, like the parents of U.S. born children should live under daily threat of deportation. And there are 600,000 DREAMers who are in the DACA program all across the country.

The House bill reverses longstanding enforcement priorities and directives that DHS has implemented. These directives tell immigration enforcement officers to focus on the bad guys rather than moms, dads, and other contributing members of the community.

The House bill, in removing all administrative discretion on who should be deported, in effect says all 12 million undocumented persons in our country can be deported. This is totally unrealistic and unnecessary.

I stand with my colleagues who are ready and willing to come together to pass bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. We did just that last Congress with 68 bipartisan votes.

And as Republican Sen. Heller said recently, the House bill that is before us “only includes language that complicates the process of finding a solution” when it comes to immigration reform.

This House bill embraces a policy of mass deportation that would harm our economy, costing trillions in economic loss not to mention the devastating impact on the people targeted. Economists have told us that comprehensive immigration reform would provide an enormous boost to our economy – helping all workers across the country.

So, the House bill does not reform our system.

The House bill does not help millions of students and families come out of the shadows.

It does not provide more resources to our hardworking border patrol agents.

It does not help those who have been stuck in our visa backlog for decades.

Rather than debating comprehensive immigration reform, the House has once again ducked the issue, this time holding DHS hostage so that a small minority of their colleagues can have their way.

This is like groundhog day—a repeat scenario that brings us continuing resolutions to keep government going in a stop and go fashion, and indeed, a scenario which brought us the government shutdown in 2013.

We do not have to keep repeating failed scenarios.

Let’s bring a clean DHS funding bill to the floor, get that done, then move on to the debate on comprehensive immigration reform that is long overdue.

HIRONO CALLS ON BOEHNER TO WORK WITH PRESIDENT ON NETANYAHU INVITATION

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono released the following statement on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to a joint session of Congress next month:

“The U.S. Israel relationship is of such great importance that Congress has reaffirmed its bipartisan support of Israel time and again.

“The question is not whether or not Members should attend Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech next month but whether we should adhere to the usual way that these invitations to address Congress are extended. And that way is to work with the President, who is Constitutionally tasked with conducting foreign policy.

“I call upon Speaker Boehner to work with the President to extend this invitation.”

HIRONO CONTINUES FIGHT FOR VETERANS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono, a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs and Armed Services Committees, voted to pass H.R. 203, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act, which would improve access to mental health services and suicide prevention resources for American veterans. The bill, which passed the Senate with a strong bipartisan majority, now heads to the President’s desk to become law.

Hirono released the following statement on the passage of the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act:

“Today the American service members and veterans I have met in Hawaii and around the country are on my mind. Too many struggle with mental health issues, and they deserve access to the best mental health services we can provide,” said Hirono. “Tragically, 22 American veterans commit suicide each day. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act will help make progress in lowering that unacceptable number. I am proud to have been a cosponsor of this important legislation and urge the President to sign it into law immediately.”

Hirono is an original cosponsor of S. 167, the bipartisan Senate companion bill, which was introduced on January 13, 2015. Her support for the Clay Hunt SAV Act builds on her work as a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee to improve veterans’ health care and demonstrates Hirono’s ongoing commitment to fight to ensure our veterans have the highest quality care and expanded access to health care and other services.

HIRONO STATEMENT ON PRESIDENT’S PROPOSAL FOR AUTHORIZATION TO USE MILITARY FORCE IN FIGHT AGAINST ISIL

Sen. Mazie Hirono, Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, issued the following statement on the President’s Authorization of Military Force proposal, which was transmitted to Congress:

“Congress has a key role to play in the U.S. response to the horrific and fast-moving threat ISIL poses, and I would be troubled if the President did not seek authorization for the use of military force. As seen with the death of Kayla Mueller and barbaric murders of countless others, ISIL continues to inflict terror and escalate instability in the Middle East. The U.S. and our partners in the Middle East and around the world must be clear and decisive in our actions against this ruthless, well-funded, and organized group that is attracting recruits from all corners of the world.

“I expect a thoughtful and thorough debate on a limited and narrowly tailored military authorization. I will continue to hold the President to his promise of no boots on the ground. This will not be another Iraq War.”

HIRONO ON ‘THE RUNDOWN’

Sen. Mazie K. Hirono joined Jose Diaz-Balart on MSNBC’s The Rundown to highlight her own immigration story and stress the importance of comprehensive immigration reform:

“As an immigrant myself, my mother brought me to this country, escaping a terribly abusive marriage in Japan and she had a vision for a better future for her children and that is something that so many immigrants, millions of immigrants who came to this country and who are here now hope for also. So what I would like to see is comprehensive immigration reform, much like we passed in the Senate months and months ago.”

Hirono also continued to urge the House and Senate to come together to pass a clean appropriations bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security before funding runs out at the end of this week:

“We need to have both the House and the Senate vote on a clean bill. Because for the Senate to send a clean bill, and the House is just going to put back the kind of amendments that brought us to this particular situation, is not going to advance the dialogue. So, what we need to send, both the House and the Senate, is a clean bill for the President to sign. And then we need to debate and pass comprehensive immigration reform that we have been calling on the House to do for over a year. It is really the ball being in Speaker Boehner’s court right now.”

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