News

Sen. Schatz Calls for End to Government Shutdown

January 16, 2019, 12:55 PM HST
* Updated January 16, 1:01 PM
A
A
A

Sen. Brian Schatz went to the Senate floor on Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, to call for an end to the federal government shutdown. In his remarks, Schatz highlighted the harm the shutdown has caused families in Hawai‘i by sharing the story of Scott and Jay Pekalib. Scott, a furloughed U.S. Geological Survey employee, and his husband Jay, are Hilo residents who are struggling to pay bills and medical expenses as the shutdown drags on.

“Scott and Jay spent all their savings to get through this ordeal. After paying for medicine, hotels, and airfare, they were living paycheck to paycheck,” said Sen. Schatz. “Now, because of the government shutdown, Scott’s paycheck reads zero dollars. He doesn’t know how he’s going to buy gas to take his husband to the doctor, or how they’re going to pay bills. He is making impossible choices between buying the prescription drugs he needs, and the ones his husband needs. All this pain and suffering because the Senate won’t vote to re-open the government.”

Schatz highlights the story of Hilo residents Scott and Jay Pekalib during a press conference. Courtesy photo.

The full text of Sen. Schatz’s remarks:

I have a simple request for my Republican colleagues: let’s vote to re-open the government. There are too many people suffering for this to go on any longer.

One of those people is Scott Pekalib. He lives in Hilo and works for the U.S. Geological Survey. He has had a tough few months.

In October, his husband, Jay, went in to the hospital for a routine surgery that went horribly wrong. Jay went into cardiac arrest, and was in an induced coma for several days. He had to be flown to another island to receive the care he needed.

Scott and Jay spent all their savings to get through this ordeal. After paying for medicine, hotels, and airfare, they were living paycheck to paycheck. Now, because of the government shutdown, Scott’s paycheck reads zero dollars.

He doesn’t know how he’s going to buy gas to take his husband to the doctor, or how they’re going to pay bills. Scott is making impossible choices between buying the prescription drugs he needs, and the ones his husband needs.

All this pain and suffering because the Senate won’t vote to re-open the government.

So I ask my Republican colleagues to call for a vote. And if the president vetoes a bill to end this suffering, then we can override it.

That’s our prerogative as the U.S. Senate: to do what’s best for the nation—for the health, the safety, and the economic security of our constituents.

Let’s vote to reopen the government.

I yield the floor.

Comments

This comments section is a public community forum for the purpose of free expression. Although Big Island Now encourages respectful communication only, some content may be considered offensive. Please view at your own discretion. View Comments

Newsletters

Get a quick summary of what’s happening on the Big Island with our daily & weekly email of news highlights.