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Sen. Brian Schatz highlights Hilo couple’s plight as he calls for end to government shutdown

  • U.S. Sen Brian Schatz speaks on the Senate floor about the federal shutdown today.

  • COURTESY SEN. BRIAN SCHATZ

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

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz today highlighted the plight of a Hilo couple in a speech on the Senate floor calling for an end to the government shutdown on its 26th day.

In his remarks, Schatz urged his Republican colleagues to open the government because there are “too many people suffering for too long.”

He shared the story of Scott and Jay Pekalib of Hilo. Scott, a furloughed U.S. Geological Survey employee, and his husband Jay, who recently had complications from open-heart surgery, are struggling to pay bills and medical expenses as the shutdown drags on, Schatz said.

“Scott and Jay spent all their savings to get through this ordeal,” Schatz said. “After paying for medicine, hotels, and airfare, they were living paycheck to paycheck. Now, because of this government shutdown, Scott’s paycheck reads zero. 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 the bills that are due. Scott is making impossible choices between buying the prescription drugs he needs, and the ones that his husband needs. All this pain and suffering is because the Senate will not vote to reopen the government.”

Schatz asked Republicans to call for a vote to reopen the federal government — and to override any president veto if President Donald Trump rejects the move.

”That’s our prerogative in the United States Senate. That’s our obligation in the United States Senate, to do what’s best for the nation — for the health and safety, and economic security of all our constituents. Let’s vote to reopen the government.”

On Tuesday, Hawaii congresswoman and 2020 presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard highlighted the plight of a Maui resident named Jay, who is working for the Transportation Security Administration without pay.

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