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Senate passes budget bill with hundreds of millions for Hawaii

By Star-Advertiser & Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 09:28 a.m. HST, Jan 17, 2014

Congress has sent President Barack Obama a $1.1 trillion government-wide spending bill that includes hundreds of millions for Hawaii.

The Senate today voted 72-26 for the measure, which cleared the House a little more than 24 hours earlier on a similarly lopsided vote. Obama's signature on the bill was expected in time to prevent any interruption in government funding Saturday at midnight.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said the appropriations bill includes more than $744 million that will go directly to Hawaii priorities, and more than $1 billion for defense programs benefiting Hawaii, with $392 million for military construction in the state. The bill includes:

>> $250 million for Honolulu's rail project in fiscal 2014. 

>> $16.7 million in funding for the East-West Center in Manoa;

>> A total of $89.4 million for Native Hawaiian housing, healthcare and education programs;

>> And about $165 million for Hawaii's highways.

After the bill passed the House Wednesday, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii) touted its benefits for the islands. "In defense spending, funding for programs that help veterans, children, working families and Native Hawaiians, as well as infrastructure investments, Hawaii did well," she said. "Given the current economy and the atmosphere in Washington, we are in pretty good shape."

Schatz said today, "I am deeply appreciative that we were able to work with Senate appropriators to protect or increase funding for the East-West Center, transportation, Native Hawaiian health care and education, clean energy, and defense programs."

Hanabusa noted that the bill's support for several military programs in Hawaii reflects the islands importance in the U.S. defense strategy to rebalance its focus on the Asia-Pacific region. 

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) lauded the bill's passage "as a true compromise" that includes "hard-fought provisions that will benefit Hawaii." 

"I am pleased the Appropriations Committee took into consideration some of Hawaii's key priorities, from expanding preschool to supporting our state's farmers to increasing quality medical care for our veterans," she said.

The huge $1.1 trillion bill funds every agency of government, pairing increases for NASA and Army Corps of Engineers construction projects with cuts to the Internal Revenue Service and foreign aid. It pays for implementation of Obama's health care law; a fight over implementing "Obamacare" sparked tea party Republicans to partially shut the government down for 16 days last October.

Also included is funding for tighter regulations on financial markets, but at levels lower than the president wanted.

The compromise-laden legislation reflects the realities of divided power in Washington and a desire by both Democrats and Republicans for an election-year respite after three years of budget wars that had Congress and the White House lurching from crisis to crisis. Both parties looked upon the measure as a way to ease automatic spending cuts that both the Pentagon and domestic agencies had to begin absorbing last year.

All 53 Democrats, two independents and 17 Republicans voted for the bill. The 26 votes against it were all cast by Republicans.

Obama's budget director, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, called the bill's passage a positive step for the nation and the economy. "It ensures the continuation of critical services the American people depend on," she said in a blog post.

Shortly before the final vote, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, delivered a slashing attack on Senate Democrats, accusing them of ignoring the problems caused by the health care law. "It is abundantly clear that millions of Americans are being harmed right now by this failed law," Cruz said.

Unlike last fall, when he spoke for 21 straight hours and helped force the government shutdown over defunding "Obamacare," this time he clocked in at 17 minutes and simply asked the Senate to unanimously approve an amendment to strip out Obamacare funding. Democrats easily repelled the maneuver.

The 1582-page bill was really 12 bills wrapped into one in negotiations headed by Rep. Harold Rogers, R-Ky., and Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., respective chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations committees, and their subcommittee lieutenants. They spent weeks hashing out line-by-line details of a broad two-year budget accord passed in December, the first since 2009.

The bill, which cleared the House on a vote of 359-67, increases spending by about $26 billion over fiscal 2013, with most of the increase going to domestic programs. Almost $9 billion in unrequested money for overseas military and diplomatic operations helps ease shortfalls in the Pentagon and foreign aid budgets.

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Anonymous wrote:
break out the democrat charge card -print, print, print... $250 million is nothing compared to the $10 billion the rail will eventually cost with over runs and change orders. maintenance and operating costs have not been factored and will be a big blackhole for Hawaii taxpayers
on January 16,2014 | 03:16PM
itoboy wrote:
For those worried about losing all those pork dollars with Sen. Inouye's passing, I guess Sen. Schatz can hold his own with the best of them - pretty good for having been there only a year. It looks like Sen. Schatz has some "gravitas" after all. I just hope Sen. Schatz doesn't make the same mistakes as Sen. Inouye. Federal dollars and political power should be spread among many by merit with equal opportunity for everyone, not to a few "old boys" like those who are fighting hard to keep Sen. Inouye's network in power by backing Sen. Inouye's self-proclaimed "chosen one."
on January 16,2014 | 04:07PM
KailuaKowboy wrote:
That whole statement is laughable.
on January 16,2014 | 04:14PM
krusha wrote:
It's called doing their job trying to support the people of Hawaii. If he didn't get any money for Hawaii, then he would pretty much be useless and a waste of time.
on January 16,2014 | 05:23PM
jomama wrote:
gotta love good old fashioned banana republic client-patron politics
on January 16,2014 | 07:05PM
hanalei395 wrote:
You can tell which are the ones who post here are outsiders who moved to Hawai`i. They are the ones who are complaining about Hawai`i, getting hundeds of millions from the budget bill.
on January 17,2014 | 07:53AM
brusselsprouts wrote:
Comment has been sent for approval go to hell
on January 16,2014 | 04:08PM
brusselsprouts wrote:
eff the white Mans Hawaii
on January 16,2014 | 04:09PM
lee1957 wrote:
Boo hoo.
on January 17,2014 | 05:54AM
brusselsprouts wrote:
Impeach Obama
on January 16,2014 | 04:09PM
serious wrote:
Can't impeach him yet. Remember when he debated McCann and said when the budget comes in he will read it word for word before signing it? 1582 pages--that will take a lot of time on the teleprompter--UNLESS HE LIED!!!!!
on January 17,2014 | 04:08AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Can't impeach him yet". ........ With Republicans and Obama-haters wishing, hoping to "impeach" Obama, a ridiculous statement like that will always backfire. It's called Karma. Chris Christie will be the one impeached.
on January 17,2014 | 07:24AM
krusha wrote:
When you have a big pie, you better make sure you get as much of the share as possible, since there will be no leftovers when everybody is done eating that thing.
on January 16,2014 | 05:21PM
derek_millennium wrote:
Hawaii has a surplus thanks to state employees taking a pay cut, furlough, paying more for medical, layoffs, and no raises for 2 years. Congratulations Gov!!!
on January 16,2014 | 05:54PM
SY808 wrote:
And in exchange for that, no one was furloughed... no one was layed off. Everyone still got a paycheck at the end of the day, albeit 95% of years prior. A slightly smaller paycheck is better than no paycheck at all. You should try and educate yourself... Google "unfunded liabilities". Would you rather the state be in bankruptcy? Just look at the city of Detroit. That's where Hawaii was headed post Lingle's reign! So yea... Congratulations IS in order!
on January 16,2014 | 11:07PM
lee1957 wrote:
They were furloughed, but the furlough days were not called furlough days.
on January 17,2014 | 05:57AM
blackmurano wrote:
So our State got 165 million dollars for our highways. . .Does that mean repairing pot holes on all roads in this State? On top of the gasoline tax for our roads, Democrats should not need to request any more fuel tax increase.
on January 16,2014 | 06:39PM
lee1957 wrote:
It means the mayors hardly need GET surcharge tax authority for "infrastructure projects."
on January 17,2014 | 05:57AM
keys4me wrote:
Where does all this money come from???
on January 16,2014 | 06:45PM
jomama wrote:
on January 16,2014 | 07:06PM
SteveToo wrote:
The printing press and taxes which means your savings are worth less each day.
on January 16,2014 | 08:25PM
SY808 wrote:
The delta between the "Net" and the "Gross" amount on my paycheck!
on January 16,2014 | 11:09PM
SteveToo wrote:
Spend Spend, that all Congress knows how to do. Oops they also know how to raise taxes and go deeper in debt. Praise the Lord and pass the Bacon. LOL
on January 16,2014 | 08:24PM
HD36 wrote:
Everyone will ba happy at first. When the bills come due, this will go down in history as the end game for the economic collapse of Americal. The fracture of confidence will spread globally, and dollars will be coming home.
on January 16,2014 | 08:43PM
Mythman wrote:
I love the part that forgets to spell out that all this "Native Hawaiian" money goes to state and city and county employees and their union bosses for "programs" that they run for native Hawaiians and Hawaiians and never actually directly reaches any native Hawaiian or Hawaiian, unless of course, they are one of those employees. The bad health and poverty of native Hawaiians and Hawaiians (and homelessness and landlessness) are manufactured by local government then used by government to get taxpayer funds with which to run programs to solve those problems. Yeah, right.
on January 17,2014 | 05:07AM
HD36 wrote:
Government will break your leg then give you crutches. They'll fuel a housing bubble then give you a loan modification. The more problems they try to solve the more they create.
on January 17,2014 | 06:38AM
Ronin006 wrote:
This is not a budget bill as stated in the story’s title line. The country has not operated with an annual budget as required by law since Obama took office. Instead, it is operating with a series of continuing resolutions passed by Congress which basically say that government departments and agencies included in each continuing resolution can continue to operate for a limited period at basically the same levels as during the previous period. Obama’s violation of the law for not submitting annual budgets is one of many reasons why he should be impeached. I will be surprised if this comment is not sent for approval.
on January 17,2014 | 08:38AM
mitsuni wrote:
RONIN006 hit it on the mark......wake up!!! The debt that is being accumulated underthe Obam administration (the OBAMANATION), will likely cripple the future of America, our young will be asked to pay the debt and our aging will find their savings useless and inadequate. Big government is not the answer, Federal mandating health care is insane. Bring the power back to the people; allow states to tackle the challenges they face independent of federal mandates. Listen to the people. Ppolitics have become a party business controlled by lobbiest with the intent being focused on re-election and retaining power vice representation of the people. KAMA'AINA need to wake up, register and vote these clowns out of office.....the media needs to stop pandering to the liberal agenda....Hawaii people are smart enough to make decisions about their future despite what the governor and the representatives think!
on January 17,2014 | 09:29AM
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