Sen. Hirono Votes in Favor of Omnibus Spending Bill
Sen. Mazie K. Hirono issued the following statement following her vote in favor of the Omnibus Spending Bill for FY2018:
“This bill reflects priorities that are very different from the president’s. In many ways—and particularly on education, affordable housing, healthcare, and clean energy—it is a strong repudiation of Donald Trump’s misplaced priorities. I hope this bill connotes a sustained Congressional commitment to stand up for our families and communities.
“While this agreement includes funding for many important programs for Hawaii and the country, I am deeply disappointed that it does not protect the 1.8 million Dreamers Donald Trump unnecessarily put at risk when he canceled DACA. The president created this crisis, and he has sabotaged every effort we’ve made to protect Dreamers. I will continue fighting so that Dreamers can live their lives and pursue their dreams in the only country they know—America.
“Although we were successful in rolling back many of Donald Trump’s proposed cuts this year, we will repeat this last-minute rush to pass massive appropriations legislation unless the appropriations process is improved. My hope is that we can enact meaningful reforms that will end the brinksmanship, finger-pointing, and dysfunction in the budget and appropriations process.”
Hawai‘i Priorities Secured in the Omnibus Spending Bill
· Education/Child Care: Rejects Betsy DeVos’s voucher plans and cuts to education programs and includes my request to raise Pell Grants by $100 to a total of $6,020—the largest increase in nearly 10 years. Rejects Trump’s cuts to Impact Aid and increases funding by $86 million. And makes historic investments in the Child Care Development Block Grant that will allow over 700 more families in Hawaii afford child care. Funds the East-West Center at $16.7 million.
· Protecting Healthcare: The bill rejects efforts to eliminate the Title X Family Planning and Teen Pregnancy Prevention programs, increases funding for community health centers by $335 million, invests and additional $3 billion in biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health, and does not include harmful provisions sought by Republicans that would undermine the Affordable Care Act and restrict women’s health.
· Clean Energy: Rejects Trump’s cuts to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and Office of Electricity which promote clean energy efforts in Hawaii and across the country and includes clean energy investments for the Navy, Air Force and Army.
· Sustainable Environmental Stewardship: Rejects Trump’s effort to eliminate land acquisition and provides $13 M in Land and Water Conservation Fund funding for land acquisitions in Hawai‘i’s “Island Forests at Risk” proposal on the Big Island and Maui.
· Affordable Housing/Homelessness Prevention: Provides an additional $20 million to programs that help fight veterans’ homelessness, $130 million more to fight overall homelessness, and rejects Trump’s proposed cuts to affordable housing programs, including $300 million more for the Community Development Block Grant and $412 more for the HOME Investment Partnership programs that Trump sought to eliminate.
· Preserves Community Service: Funds programs that Trump has called to eliminate including public service programs funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service like AmeriCorps, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), and Senior Corps, and the Sea Grant College program.
· Keeps Our Commitment to the Native Hawaiian Community: Provides $17.5 million for Native Hawaiian Health Care, $36.4 million for Native Hawaiian Education, $2 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant, and $1.47 million for Native American/Hawaiian Museum Services
· Promoting Local Jobs and Economic Development: Rejects Trump’s call for eliminating the Manufacturing Extension Partnership and Community Development Financial Institution’s (CDFI) Fund. The final bill provides an additional $10 million ($140 million) for MEP, which supports the INNOVATE Hawaii initiative for small and medium-sized manufacturers in Hawaii, and fully funds the CDFI Funds efforts, including $16 million specifically for Native American, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native activities. Hawaii is home to 13 CDFIs that help to promote economic development and access to financial services for people and businesses in low-income communities.
Other investments in Hawai‘i:
· $269,000 for the Army Corps. of Engineers to maintain Barbers Point Harbor on O‘ahu
· $4.8 million for dredging operations at Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua‘i
· $90 million for Fort Shafter’s Command and Control Facility
· $73.2 million for Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam’s Sewer Lift Station and Relief Sewer Line
· $19.01 million for Kaneohe Bay’s LHD Pad Conversions MV-22 Landing Pads
· Funds the Essential Air Service program that supports affordable air travel to Waimea (Big Island) and Kalaupapa (Molokai).
· $1.86 million for Hansen’s Disease treatment in Hawai‘i