Name on ballot:
United States Senator
Previous job history:
United States Senator, State of Hawaii; 2012 – Present
Lieutenant Governor, State of Hawaii; 2010 – 2012
Chairman, Democratic Party of Hawaii; 2008 – 2010
CEO, Helping Hands Hawaii; 2002 – 2010
State Representative District 25, Hawaii House of Representatives; 1998 – 2006
Previous elected office, if any:
United States Senator, State of Hawaii; 2012 – Present Lieutenant Governor, State of Hawaii; 2010 – 2012 State Representative District 25, Hawaii House of Representatives; 1998 – 2006
Please describe your qualifications to represent the people of Hawaii.
It’s an honor to represent the people of Hawaii in the U.S. Senate. Since joining the Senate in 2012, I’ve earned key roles that have put me in a better position to serve, including Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation and Housing, Chair of the Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, and Chief Deputy Whip of the Democratic Caucus. And my seniority continues to grow – ranking 51 of 100.
I have used my positions in the Senate to provide resources to the people and communities across the state, delivering billions in federal funding to reduce the cost of living and build a more just, sustainable, more prosperous society.
We’ve also been able to allocate significant funding through my role on the Appropriations Committee, including millions for Native Hawaiian programs and more than $240 million in earmarks for Hawaii, a funding amount that has placed me at #7 in a New York Times ranking for bringing home the most money.
Supporting families across the state continues to be my focus. That’s why I’ve led on making college more affordable, expanding health care, and developing solutions to fight climate change.
We’ve made progress, but there is still more work to do.
What will be your top priority if elected?
The rising cost of living is the biggest issue facing families in Hawaii. And as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work to bring federal funding to provide relief for Hawaii families.
Climate change is the crisis of our generation. We’ve taken important steps to fight this crisis, including delivering the largest investment in clean energy, phasing down harmful HFCs, and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. Momentum is growing, and our work to take bold climate action continues.
Inflation has battered the U.S. economy in nearly all sectors. What can Congress do to help bring prices down and to help Americans cope with the rising cost of living?
The rising cost of living is the most challenging issue we face in Hawaii. Whether it’s health care, energy, college or housing – we need to make it more affordable for local people to build a life here. That’s why I continue to work to deliver federal funds and enact federal policies to reduce the cost of utilities, make commutes more efficient and safe, make health care and prescription drugs more affordable, and support homegrown industries.
What is your position on the Jones Act, which supporters say protects the U.S. shipping industry but opponents say unnecessarily inflates shipping prices and the subsequent costs to Hawaii consumers?
I support the Jones Act and will continue working to strengthen enforcement. The Jones Act is critical to our national security, providing us with the industrial capacity we need to build ships and to have U.S. owned and flagged vessels available in times of crisis. It’s also necessary to keep our grocery shelves stocked by helping maintain a guaranteed flow of goods to Hawaii.
What, if anything, should Congress do in response to the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs Wade?
A woman’s fundamental right to make decisions about her own body is hers alone – not the government’s. The Supreme Court’s decision ripped that right away from millions of American women. While the ruling won’t impact Hawaii, this right must be protected for women across the country. That means we must codify Roe and legalize abortion on the federal level.
Now that Roe vs. Wade has been overturned, some advocates say other civil liberties previously upheld by the Supreme Court will be vulnerable, including same-sex marriage. Do you agree and what, if anything, should Congress do in response?
The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and strip constitutional rights away from American citizens has created a dangerous precedent. This same Court has also signaled a willingness to go even further to erode the right to privacy that Roe was based on, putting access to contraception, marriage equality, and LGBTQ+ rights at risk. We can’t allow this to happen. We must codify what we can and elect more Democrats who will fight to protect every American’s constitutional rights.
What should Congress do to reduce gun violence and mass shootings in America?
Americans are demanding we take action on gun violence, and I’ve led and supported reforms since joining the Senate, including the newly-signed gun safety law that will help take weapons away from dangerous people and save lives. While the new law will help make our communities safer, there is more we can do, including banning military-style assault weapons and establishing universal background checks.
We need to make sure we have common sense protections in place that will stop dangerous, violent people from getting their hands on deadly firearms.
What is the best strategy to break through the political gridlock in Congress?
One of the most gratifying parts of my job is being able to work across the aisle to pass bipartisan legislation that will benefit Hawaii and our country.
I’ve been able to build strong relationships with my Republican colleagues, and together, we have worked to pass meaningful legislation that has delivered the largest federal investment to Native communities in American history, raised the smoking and vaping age to 21, expanded access to health care through telehealth, provided paid parental leave for federal workers, helped us fight online hacks and scams, and improved our criminal justice system, among other major achievements.
What specific policies should Congress enact that could help mitigate the affects of sea-level rise and climate change?
We’ve taken important steps to tackle the climate crisis, including delivering the largest federal investment in clean energy ever, phasing down hydrofluorocarbons — a potent greenhouse gas, and rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement. While we’ve made progress, we still have more work to do. That means enacting policies that will cut carbon pollution, invest in clean energy, and protect vulnerable communities.
Is there anything more that you would like voters to know about you?
One of my top priorities in the Senate is delivering federal funding to Hawaii. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Indian Affairs Committee, I’m in a position to help. Since joining the Senate, we’ve secured more than $16 billion for our state. That includes record-level funding for Native Hawaiian housing, health care, and education programs and more than $240 million in earmarks to support worthy nonprofits and county governments. It’s money that will go directly into our communities to help local people with housing, health care, education, and job training.
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