December 12, 2014

Senator Hirono to Serve on Intelligence Committee

The U.S. Senate Democratic leadership slate is announced for the new GOP-controlled chamber

The U.S. Congress may soon be controlled by Republicans, but Hawaii’s Democrats in the Senate have secured important committee assignments that begin early next year.

Brian Schatz will serve on the Senate Committee on Appropriations while Mazie Hirono will serve on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Hirono will also continue serving on the Armed Services Committee and on Veterans’ Affairs.

The Appropriations Committee writes the legislation that funds government departments, agencies and organizations and has responsibility for supplemental spending bills. The late Dan Inouye of Hawaii was a former chairman and often steered federal funds toward the islands.

The Intelligence Committee, meanwhile, oversees the intelligence activities and programs of the U.S. government to make sure they comport with the U.S. Constitution and federal laws. Under Democrat Diane Feinstein of California, the committee is in the news this week with its controversial report regarding the CIA and torture.

The Armed Services Committee has legislative oversight of the nation’s military, including the Department of Defense. Given Hawaii’s geopolitical strategic position in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and in proximity to Asia, the committee’s role is critical.

Veterans’ Affairs has also had a high profile lately, due to the backlog in addressing the health needs of vets. Hawaii has a large veteran population.

The appointments are subject to a full vote by the Senate scheduled for early January.


Hirono, meanwhile, in addition to gaining the plum assignment on the Intelligence Committee and staying on Armed Services, will also serve on the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in the new Congress. Hirono, however, will relinquish her position on Senate Judiciary — another high-profile panel that is often in the news.

“I look forward to building on our work to support our service members, veterans and their families,” Hirono said in a press release Friday. “Maintaining a strong military presence in Hawaii will continue to be critical to our national security and economy in state, while also serving as a key component to our nation’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific.”

Hirono added, “My new committee assignments are well-balanced and involve top priorities for Hawaii, including shaping policies that secure clean energy, protection of the environment and boosting small business opportunities that create jobs that will help us achieve a sustainable future for Hawaii.”

Committee assignments for the U.S. House have not yet been announced. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai, who will replace Colleen Hanabusa come January, represent Hawaii. Both are military veterans who have made veterans’ issues legislative priorities.

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By:  Chad Blair
Source: Civil Beat