February 12, 2015
Aloha and happy new year to you and your family. As we begin a new Congress, I wanted to share with you the news that I have been selected to serve on four Senate committees important to Hawai‘i’s future.
The Appropriations Committee writes the legislation that allocates funds to government departments, agencies, and organizations. The Committee also has responsibility for supplemental spending bills as may be needed during the fiscal year.
- Commerce, Science, and Transportation
The Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committeehas jurisdiction over a wide range of issues which include communications, highways, aviation, rail, shipping, transportation security, merchant marine, the Coast Guard, oceans, fisheries, climate change, disasters, science, space, interstate commerce, tourism, consumer issues, economic development, technology, competitiveness, product safety, and insurance.
- Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet
The Subcommittee oversees matters relating to the telecommunications industry. Agencies within the Committee’s jurisdiction include the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
- Indian Affairs
The Indian Affairs Committee has jurisdiction to study the unique needs of American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples. Specifically, the Committee works to address issues including Native Hawaiian education, economic development, land management, trust responsibilities, and health care.
The Select Committee on Ethics is a special committee tasked with governing the conduct of Members, officers, and employees of the Senate.
The Appropriations Committee allocates funds to government departments and agencies and continues to be critical for our state. My new seat on the Appropriations Committee means I will have a unique opportunity to make sure Hawai‘i’s needs and priorities are represented in our national budget, and we continue to receive our fair share of federal funds.
I will retain my seat on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, which is strategically of value, because it covers areas as wide ranging as roads, oceans, and tourism. As part of my role, I will serve as the lead Democrat on the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation and the Internet. This is good for us because innovation and technology are major drivers of the economy and because increasing access to broadband as well as open and fast access to the Internet are essentials for Hawai‘i businesses and residents.
I’m also very pleased to continue as a member of the Indian Affairs Committee. This is an assignment that I requested when I first began serving as a Senator because of its importance to Native Hawaiians and our state in general.
I have also been selected as one of three Democrats, along with three Republicans, to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, which investigates allegations of improper conduct by senators. And I have been named to the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, a leadership group that I’m honored to join.
Last week, I finalized my subcommittee assignments on the Appropriations Committee. I am pleased to announce I will be serving on the following five subcommittees:
Appropriations Subcommittee Assignments
Military forces in Hawai‘i are central to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) strategic engagement in the Asia Pacific. Defense leaders continue to face hard choices in the years ahead as they work with a smaller share of the discretionary budget to train and ready our service members, provide for military families, protect the United States from threats abroad, and invest in the capabilities needed to address emerging challenges, particularly in Asia. The Subcommittee on Defense provides an opportunity to ensure that DoD is aligning its limited resources appropriately to support national defense needs, including protecting critical military capabilities in Hawai‘i. In addition, the subcommittee presents an opportunity to help DoD identify opportunities to accomplish its objectives by working with partners and allies, and support DoD’s investments in nontraditional defense programs—such as alternative energy, climate resilience, and infectious diseases research—that will pay dividends to national defense in the future.
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
With more than 117,000 veterans and 78,000 active duty and reserve personnel, the military has a significant relationship with Hawai‘i. The Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs presents an opportunity to demonstrate that development of training ranges and other essential military facilities can be done in balance with local cultural and environmental needs, all while ensuring our obligation to support the veterans who have made sacrifices to our nation.
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Hawai‘i’s representation on the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee is important to sustaining past gains and continuing to address the significant education and health disparities faced by the Native Hawaiian community—given the geographical, cultural, and financial barriers that prevent Native Hawaiians from accessing existing health services. It will also help represent the needs of rural and low-income communities as well as underserved populations living in island communities and isolated parts of the country.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Because of Hawai‘i’s unique location and geography, the state depends on federal transportation funding to build and maintain the infrastructure it needs to grow the economy and connect its communities. With the Department of Transportation’s help, Hawai‘i will complete the state’s first light rail project, invest in needed highway improvements, provide access to goods with port improvements, and make communities more walkable.
The agencies and offices that provide for safety and functionality for those who work within and visit the United States Capitol Complex are funded in the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. Offices such as the United States Capitol Police and Senate Sergeant at Arms oversee and execute safety functions while agencies like the Library of Congress, Government Accountability Office, and Congressional Budget Office facilitate the work of the legislative branch and provide public access to the documents elected officials use every day to help them make informed decisions in their official capacity.
I am grateful to Appropriations Committee Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski for the opportunity to help shape the Department of Defense’s priorities, especially as it relates to the Asia-Pacific region. These are challenging times, and we operate in a difficult budget environment, but these assignments put me in a position to help Hawai‘i move forward.
I am excited to continue our work to build a better future for Hawai‘i and our country.
In the year ahead, please feel free to contact me if there is anything we can do to assist you. Our Washington phone number is (202) 224-3934 and our Honolulu phone number is (808) 523-2061. We’re here to help.