01/25/19: Reopening the government
Sending you aloha from Washington on this Aloha Friday, along with some updates from this past week.
President Trump just announced a deal to reopen the federal government for 21 days, and to provide back pay for the over 800,000 federal workers who have gone for 35 days without pay. This temporary opening will create the opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together to address funding levels and authorities for border security and immigration concerns. We cannot allow our government and federal employees to suffer and be held hostage because of partisan politics or policy disagreements.
I spoke on the House floor calling for an end to the government shutdown.
I marched to the White House in solidarity with federal employees who have been furloughed or forced to work without pay.
I heard from Jay on Maui, who's a TSA employee who has been working this entire time without pay, wondering how he's going to pay his mortgage, car, and credit card payments and life-saving medical care for his daughter. Jay is not alone. I heard from another TSA employee in Hawai‘i who held a garage sale, selling as much as possible to pay her rent. Another who serves in the Army Reserves told me that if the government didn’t open by February, he’d be forced to volunteer to deploy to Afghanistan, to ensure he gets a paycheck to care for his wife and kids.
We cannot turn our backs on our brothers and sisters. These are real people, real families, real lives, and real futures.
I helped serve meals to federal employees, contractors, and their families impacted by the government shutdown at the World Central Kitchen’s #ChefsforFeds pop-up kitchen.
This shutdown caused irreparable consequences for the futures of our people and our country. I will continue to stand with our people by ensuring they are paid and keep getting paid, and use their tax dollars responsibly -- and not for an unnecessary border wall.
Addressing the Nursing Shortage in Hawai‘i
Too often, nurses are unsung heroes who provide life-saving care to our communities in the most trying and stressful times. As our country faces an aging population, an increase in chronic diseases, an ever-worsening opioid epidemic, and so much more, our healthcare workers must have what they need to care for our people. I introduced bipartisan legislation to help ensure that nurses in Hawai‘i and across the country have the education, training, and support to continue their service.
Protecting our Communities
This past week, I was honored to be the first Member of Congress to host a 3D-printed statue of Joaquin "Guac" Oliver, a 17-year-old Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School senior who was killed in the shooting at the Parkland, Florida high school on Valentine's Day last year.
Too many parents, like Joaquin’s parents, Manuel and Patricia, never knew they were saying their final goodbyes and last hugs and kisses with their sons and daughters. Too many parents have missed out on birthdays, holidays, weddings, and grandchildren because their own children have been lost. We’re working to protect all our children and help prevent future tragedies like this.
Securing Critical Disaster Relief Funding for Hawai‘i
2018 was a tough year for Hawai‘i. We were battered by natural disasters of all types last year on nearly all of our islands – from major flooding and landslides in April, an erupting volcano throughout May and June, and flooding and wildfires on multiple islands in August. But time and again, our people proved their resilience and strength by living aloha, taking care of each other even when they had lost everything.
I spoke on the House floor in support of a $12.9 billion spending package for disaster relief for Hawai‘i, California, Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa and other Americans affected by natural disasters in 2018.
I helped pass critical funding for crop insurance, reconstructing facilities, water infrastructure projects, crisis counseling, rebuilding houses and small businesses, and more.
Fighting for Care for our Post 9/11 Veterans
Burn pits are the Agent Orange of post 9/11 veterans. Over 165,000 veterans have registered their names in the voluntary Burn Pit Registry, but there are millions of our troops who have been exposed to these toxic burn pits during their deployment. They deserve recognition. They deserve care. They deserve the services they have earned.
So far, our government has failed to fulfill its responsibility to them, and recognize the toxins they have been exposed to -- just like what happened to our Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange. That’s why I introduced bipartisan legislation to ensure that our post 9/11 veterans aren’t left behind, and get the services they need.
I spoke on the House floor introducing the Burn Pits Accountability Act.
Other additional highlights:
Cosponsored legislation to lower the skyrocketing cost of prescription drugs for the American people. Americans pay the highest cost of prescription drugs in the world at an average of two to six times more than the rest of the world.
Supported the Raise the Wage Act to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024. This legislation would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise.
Backed legislation to re-ban the use and stockpile of a toxic pesticide, chlorpyrifos (CPY), to protect our environment and the health of our people. Last year, Hawai‘i became the first state in the country to ban pesticides containing chlorpyrifos.
As always, my team and I are here to serve you. Please do not hesitate to contact us if we may be of assistance to you and your ohana.