Hawai‘i Senators Weigh in on Federal Government Shutdown

January 20, 2018, 7:27 AM HST · Updated January 20, 7:27 AM
Wendy Osher · 68 Comments
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US Senator Mazie Hirono (left); US Senator Brian Schatz (right).

Senate Democrats and Republicans failed to reach an agreement before Friday’s midnight deadline on a stopgap measure to fund government services.

The federal government shutdown officially went into effect early this morning, with the White House wasting no time in placing the blame on Democrats, calling it the “Schumer Shutdown.”  That’s a reference to US Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, who has been a lead Democrat in the negotiations.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, posted an official statement on Twitter saying Senate Democrats “put politics above our national security.”  In the statement, Sanders said, “We will not negotiate the status of unlawful immigrants while Democrats hold our lawful citizens hostage over their reckless demands.”

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President Trump also took to his Twitter account saying that Democrats want the shutdown in order to “help diminish” what he called the “great success” of his administration’s tax cuts, and what the cuts “are doing for our booming economy.”

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US Senator Mazie K. Hirono of Hawaiʻi released a statement, blaming the president and lead Republicans saying:

“Tonight, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, and Donald Trump turned things upside down. They’ve spent the past year working behind closed doors to take away health care from millions of people and pass huge tax cuts for the richest people and corporations in our country without input from Democrats or the public. At the same time, they’ve ignored reauthorizing the Children’s Health Insurance Program, funding Community Health Centers, protecting DREAMers, and providing parity between defense and non-defense programs. All of these issues have bipartisan support and should have gotten done months ago.

“Republicans are in charge of the House, the Senate, and the Presidency. They are in charge of setting the time table and the agenda, and now they’re blaming the Democrats for their own misplaced priorities.

“Congress is a separate branch of government. Instead of bowing to the unpredictable, mercurial, and unreliable positions of the President, we should do our jobs and send the President a government funding bill that addresses all of these priorities.”

Senator Hirono is a cosponsor of Pay Our Military legislation that she said would ensure that service members and Department of Defense employees are paid throughout the shutdown, and the Federal Employees Fair Treatment Act, legislation to ensure that all federal civilian employees receive back pay in the event of a shutdown.

US Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) also commented on the shutdown of the federal government saying, “Nobody wins in a shutdown. It’s time for us to do the hard work of negotiating and compromise to keep critical government services going. I will continue to work for as long as it takes to solve this terrible problem.”

Meantime, Democrat Doug Chin issued a statement blaming the situation on President Trump and the Republican Congress saying they “turned off the lights and shut the doors of our federal government to advance their right-wing, anti-immigrant agenda. Make no mistake, this senseless shutdown hurts Hawai‘i families and it hurts our economy,” said Chin. “It’s time for Congress to stop attacking each other and start tackling America’s challenges.”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis issued a memorandum to the military for guidance in the wake of the government shutdown, ensuring that the department would continue to carry out its “fundamental responsibility to defend our Nation and the American people.”

“We will continue to execute daily operations around the world – ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our warfighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia.  While training for reservists must be curtailed, active forces will stay at their posts adapting their training to achieve the least negative impact on our readiness to fight,” Mattis wrote.

 

Wendy Osher
Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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