Build a healthy economy through sustainability

By:  Senator Mazie K. Hirono

As we begin a new year and a new Congress, we have opportunities to accomplish a great deal to build a sustainable future that creates educational opportunities for our keiki, protects Medicare and Social Security for our kupuna, and strengthens our middle-class families for a healthy and secure economy.

These opportunities have presented themselves in different ways, and this year, I am privileged to serve on five committees in the Senate that will allow me to work to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class, promote renewable energy and energy development, and ensure our military community has the resources it needs. 

As the most oil-dependent state in the nation, we understand the challenges in meeting our energy needs in Hawaii and the nation in a range of ways -- particularly through expanding clean, renewable energy sources. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, I will support policies that promote sustainable energy production, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect working Americans' bottom line.  

What sustains us and how our energy is produced is about making sure our 'aina is protected for future generations and for our security. 

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) I will take a deeper look at what we can do to reduce the military's dependence on oil and push for continued investments in clean energy and energy efficiency. Successes like Army Garrison Hawaii's ongoing sustainability initiatives that improve energy efficiency, reduce water usage, the Navy's investments in clean energy innovation like biofuels, and other efforts by U.S. Pacific Command demonstrate that these federal investments are paying off -- both for Hawaii's communities, and the military's presence in the Asia-Pacific region. 

Our economic security in Hawaii also means ensuring our military community gets the resources it needs. In my new leadership role as the ranking Democrat on the SASC Seapower subcommittee, our Navy and Marine Corps relationship to Hawaii will remain strong and will allow us to engage in important debates on issues critical to our nation, particularly as our national focus rebalances to the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, by serving on the Select Senate Committee on Intelligence, I hope to provide oversight and engage in important deliberations on critical national security issues. 

I'm committed to the obligations to our brave men and women who have served our country, and I will continue fighting for our veterans' benefits and quality care. I will also continue to shine a light on the state of veterans' affairs through the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  

And through the Senate Small Business Committee, I will work to strengthen the backbone of our local economy, grow our middle class, and create jobs. This also means continuing my strong focus on infrastructure and investment in our roads, airports and transportation alternatives. This includes $1.55 billion in federal funds we will receive for the Honolulu rail transit project.

I'm strongly committed to a sustainable economy that includes a comprehensive solution to immigration reform. I support the president's recent executive action that will allow some 5 million undocumented people in our country to come out of the shadows. While we may not be a traditional border state, there are thousands of families in Hawaii with members who are undocumented. This executive action is not a pathway to citizenship, nor should it be. However, we have an obligation as a nation to keep these families together.  

While I look forward to finding common ground on issues this upcoming Congress, there are a number of core issues where my position will remain consistent and clear. We must strengthen our schools, find a permanent and comprehensive solution to bring the millions of undocumented people out of the shadows, and remain diligent in protecting Social Security and Medicare. 

For me, serving in Washington has always meant building and strengthening relationships, whether it is with my fellow members of the Hawaii delegation or my Republican colleagues, and I am honored that the people of Hawaii have given me the opportunity to face these challenges ahead.

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