Video: Brian Schatz is Sworn in as Hawaii’s New U.S. Senator

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With Senator Akaka at his side, Vice President Joe Biden formally swore in Brian Schatz as Hawaii’s United States Senator, filling the seat left open by the passing of Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

Schatz Confirmed

After the swearing in, Senator Akaka made remarks in support of Senator Schatz.

Jon Yoshimura to Run in Special Election for Honolulu City Council

Former Council Chair and Communications Director for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka Announces Candidacy

After serving as U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka’s communications director for more than six years, former City Councilman Jon Yoshimura returned to Hawaii last year to join the clean energy movement. Today, he expressed his desire to expand his service to the people of Honolulu by declaring his intention to run in the special election to fill the Honolulu City Council District VI seat recently held by his former Akaka co-worker, Tulsi Gabbard.

John Yoshimura and his wife Yuki

“The people of Hawaii have chosen well in their resounding support for Tulsi Gabbard. She has actively served District VI with honor and integrity that I will continue,” said Yoshimura.

Honolulu District VI includes Makiki, Downtown Honolulu, Punchbowl, Liliha, Pauoa Valley, Nuuanu, Alewa Heights, Papakolea, Kalihi Valley, and a portion of Kalihi. If elected, Yoshimura would fill the remaining two years of Gabbard’s term. A special election will be held in conjunction with the general election on Tuesday, November 6.

“This is an election for a two-year term. There is no time to learn on the job,” said Yoshimura. “Having served two full terms, eight years on the City Council, I have the experience and the passion to serve the people of District VI.”

A lawyer and former television reporter, Yoshimura was first elected to the Honolulu City Council in 1994. His Council colleagues called upon him to serve as council chair from 1999 to 2002, during which time he lead the Council’s effort to renew Waikiki, including the successful Waikiki Beach Walk project.

Yoshimura was also the author of two City Charter amendments, overwhelmingly approved by Honolulu voters in 2002, that created the Office of the City Auditor and set renewable five-year terms for the Honolulu Police Chief. “I believe both strengthened government accountability and that’s good for the people of Honolulu,” said Yoshimura.

Within his Council district, Yoshimura actively supported community policing teams, initiated annual work days in Papakolea, worked to protect the interests of senior citizens, was a key figure in the revitalization of Honolulu’s Downtown-Chinatown corridor.

But Yoshimura’s rising political career was marred by a 1999 drinking and driving incident in which he left the scene after hitting a parked car. Humiliated and embarrassed, Yoshimura publicly apologized for his mistake and readily accepted his suspension from practicing law for six months for lying to the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. Since then he has spoken out about the negative effects of drinking and driving.

“Professionally, I did a lot of things I’m proud of. But personally, I made mistakes that I’m ashamed of. While I regret the gross error of judgment, it has proven to be one of the biggest and most important lessons in my life,” said Yoshimura. “Ten years have passed since I left the City Council. I’ve learned a lot, matured, gained wisdom working for one of Hawaii’s most beloved public servants, and the passion for public service still burns in my heart.”

Yoshimura returned to the islands last year to accept a position as an executive with SolarCity, a national leader in clean energy services with local operations in Mililani.

Kana’iolowalu Petition Signed in Washington

United States Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K Inouye become the first two people to sign a petition affirming the inherent sovereignty of the Native Hawaiian people and expressing support for a restoration of Native Hawaiian self-governance.

Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K Inouye

It’s part of the Native Hawaiian Roll Commission’s year long effort, Kana’iolowalu, to bring Hawaiians and Non-Hawaiians together in support of nation building, and to create a base roll of Native Hawaiians to participate in the formation of a sovereign government. Akaka and Inouye were joined by Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee Peter Apo and State Senator Brickwood Galuteria, who became the third and fourth people to sign, respectively. This video was taken in Senator Akaka’s Washington, D.C. office.

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Kana’iolowalu runs through July 19, 2013. Registration and signing of the petition can be done on paper or electronically. For more information please visit http://www.kanaiolowalu.org

Video From Waimea – Senator Akaka’s Love Song to His Wife Millie

On a cool and lovely night with friends and ohana in Waimea on the Big Island, Senator Akaka celebrates his wife Millie and their many years of love together with a song.

Their son Danny Jr. plays the ukulele.

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Senator and Millie have five children, 15 grandchildren, and 14 great grandchildren…so far.

Six Turtles Released Into Freedom Today – Turtle Independence Day

Today the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows was pleased to release six Honu into the freedom of the ocean in front of a crowd of around 1,000 people.

Senator Daniel Kahikina Akaka was one of the turtle releasers along with his family.

Attendees enjoyed Hawaiian entertainment and a July 4 BBQ afterwards.

The sea turtle is the only indigenous reptile of Hawaii , evolving some 180 million years ago, and has become a significant symbol of the Islands .  It represents longevity, safety and Mana (spiritual energy) and Native Hawaiians consider it the bearer of good luck and peace.

Since 1989 Mauna Lani Bay has received 3-5 month old juvenile Honu from Oahu’s Sea Life Park and has raised them in the saltwater ponds of the resort.  The Honu are raised for 2-3 years and attentively cared for until they grow to a size and weight that is classified as healthy for release into the ocean.

More than 200 Honu have been released into the pristine waters in front of the resort since the program’s inception.

While Turtle Independence Day is fun-filled day for the whole family, it’s also an opportunity to raise awareness of the need to preserve and protect the Honu through education in the spirit of aloha.

Politics, Religion and Facebook – Interesting Concept Mayor Kenoi

Mayor Kenoi’s facebook account just posted the following:

I was at the 2012 Hawaiʻi Prayer Breakfast this morning at the Hilton Hawaiian Village with Dr. Ravi Zacharias and the leaders of Hawaiʻi, including Sen. Daniel Akaka, who I got to honor. It was a moving morning, with 2,000 attendees from churches and communities across Hawai‘i and lots of aloha.


This is the passage that I selected to read, Ephesians 6:10-20 -

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

“VISIT USA Act” Opens Hawaii’s Shores To Additional Visitors from China and Canada Says Congresswoman Mazie Hirono

Bipartisan legislation recently introduced by Rep. Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) and Rep. David Dreier (R-CA) would cut red tape and reform U.S. visa policies—potentially bringing an estimated 280,000 visitors yearly from China, Canada, and other high-growth markets to Hawaii, boosting economic growth in the state.

“The Pacific region is a vast market for new visitors. Reforming our visa process is a cost-effective, common-sense way to make it easier and more inviting for international businesses and tourists to come to Hawaii and the U.S.,” said Congresswoman Hirono.  “It’s why this is an idea both Democrats and Republicans are behind.”

The Visa Improvements to Stimulate International Tourism to the United States of America Act, or VISIT USA Act, would establish 5-year multiple entry visas for Chinese visitors, extend the time Canadian retirees can stay in the U.S., make changes to the Visa Waiver Program, and make other low-cost reforms that will increase tourism in the U.S.

In 2010, more than 54 million Chinese citizens traveled abroad.  Europe welcomed 3.7 million of these visitors.  However, the U.S. only saw 800,000 Chinese visitors, of which only 62,000 came to Hawaii.

The reforms contained in the VISIT USA Act could help put the U.S. on a path to match Europe as a destination for Chinese visitors in the coming years. This growth can also give a huge boost to Hawaii. With the average visitor from China staying in the state for six days and spending $350 a day, this growth in visitors could also yield an estimated $573 million for Hawaii’s economy.

“The VISIT USA Act is great news for Hawai‘i’s tourism economy,” said Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the Hawai‘i Tourism Authority. “Improvements to the visa process and other policy changes will help to ease access and make visiting the U.S. and Hawai’i more convenient for many international visitors. We are encouraged by this legislation and the potential it has to boost, not only visitor arrivals and spending, but also our state’s economy through increased commerce and job growth.”

“In fact, using estimates from the U.S. Department of Commerce, we could see potentially 6,000 new jobs created in Hawai’i as a result of the reforms in the VISIT USA Act.”

Key provisions of the VISIT USA Act include:

Allow Chinese visitors to apply for 5-year multiple-entry visitor visas. Currently, Chinese visitors can only apply for a 1-year multiple-entry visitor visa.

  • Allow an extra fee to be charged to expedite the processing of a non-immigrant visa.
  • Create a videoconference pilot program to conduct visa interviews for foreign nationals applying for visas.
  • Allow Canadian citizens to get visas that last 240 days, renewable every 3 years.
  • Lower visa fees during off-peak seasons to encourage more applications when demand is lower.
  • Allow U.S. allies in the fight against global terrorism to become part of the Visa Waiver Program, so citizens of selected countries can travel to the U.S. more easily.
  • Allow important foreign dignitaries, like Olympians, to be added to the Global Entry Program after a review of their case.

“Other countries are aggressively pooling their national resources and staking a larger claim in the international tourism industry,” said Roy Yamaguchi, Board Member of Brand USA. “I applaud efforts like the VISIT USA Act and other proposals to facilitate travel to the United States. With Brand USA promoting the greatest destination in the world, efforts to increase the ability of travelers to come here allows us to achieve great things for the U.S. economy.”

This bipartisan bill has also been introduced in the Senate by Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) and has been endorsed by:

  • Discover America Partnership
  • Americans for Tax Reform
  • U.S. Travel Association
  • U.S. Chamber of Commerce
  • American Hotel and Lodging Association
  • National Restaurant Association

Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) is also a Senate cosponsor of the legislation.

In addition to the VISIT USA Act, Congresswoman Hirono’s tourism agenda includes successfully advocating for additional funds for the State and Homeland Security Departments to speed up visa processing in 2012. She has also cosponsored other measures to boost local tourism promotion and further improve U.S. visa policies to encourage international travel.

Kauai, Molokai, Lanai and East Hawaii Receive Grants for Veterans Cemeteries

The State of Hawaii will receive a federal grant totaling $1,591,789 for veterans cemeteries on the neighbor islands announced Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii), Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii), and Congresswoman Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) today.

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery

East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery

“Our veterans dedicated their lives to serve our country in times of need.  Without their sacrifices, we would not be able to enjoy the rights and freedoms we do today.  We honor the actions of these brave men and women through the continued upkeep and preservation of these memorial parks,” said Senator Akaka, former Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  “The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Office of Veterans Services have worked hard to ensure these cemeteries are worthy of those who rest there, and these funds will help them continue their important work.”

The funds will be used toward the expansion and improvement of the Kauai Veterans Cemetery, Lanai Veterans Cemetery, Molokai Veterans Cemetery, and East Hawaii Veterans Cemetery.

“I am very pleased that we continue to invest in the expansion, maintenance and appearance of these memorial parks that serve as the final resting place for our fallen heroes.  These parks provide families and loved ones a place to convene to honor the memory of our brave veterans.  Maintaining clean, safe, and dignified memorial parks for those brave enough to put on the uniform and defend our great nation is the very least we can do to honor their sacrifice,” said Senator Inouye.

“This funding helps us honor our veterans and their families for their years of service and sacrifice,” said Congresswoman Mazie Hirono. “Their final resting place should be a lasting tribute to the men and women who defended our country.”

Bipartisan Group of Senators Announce Formation of Oceans Caucus

Whitehouse, Murkowski to Lead Group

With our oceans and coastal resources, and the economies and jobs they support, facing constant and increasingly direct pressure from a variety of sources, a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators today met to form a new Senate Oceans Caucus.  The Caucus will work to increase awareness and find common ground in responding to issues facing the oceans and coasts, which support millions of jobs in America and contribute more to the country’s GDP than the entire farm sector, grossing more than $230 billion in 2004.

Senator Akaka speaks at a press conference today following the first meeting of the new Senate Oceans Caucus.

Senator Akaka speaks at a press conference today following the first meeting of the new Senate Oceans Caucus.

Following today’s inaugural meeting, the members announced that U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) will serve as Caucus Co-Chairs.  Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME), as Chair and Ranking Member of the Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, will serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Senate Oceans Caucus to promote effective coordination with the subcommittee.  Other Caucus members are Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Scott Brown (R-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), John Kerry (D-MA), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Patty Murray (D-WA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

“I’m honored to join my colleagues today to announce the formation of the Senate Oceans Caucus,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “For coastal states like Rhode Island, our oceans are a vital part of our economy and our history, and we must take smart steps to manage and protect them as a resource for future generations.  This Caucus will work together on a bipartisan basis to help make that happen.”

“I am proud to represent both the Pacific and Arctic Ocean interests as the Senate Oceans Caucus begins our important work,” said Senator Murkowski.  “To Alaskans, our vast coastlines connect us to our farms and our factories for growth – whether it’s our bountiful fisheries or resource opportunities.  To an outlying state like Alaska, it’s also our interstate highway system for shipping, tourism and commerce.  We must make bipartisan decisions today to guard them as they help feed our future growth.”

During today’s meeting the senators adopted a founding charter which lays out the principles for the Caucus, and specifically discussed the following issues: international and domestic fisheries policy, gaps in ocean science, and challenges to ocean and coastal resource management.

“The oceans drive Alaska’s economy though commercial, recreational and subsistence fishing, tourism and international commerce,” said Senator Begich. “I welcome the formation of this caucus and its bipartisan approach to dealing with the many challenges and opportunities of our oceans.  As chair of the Oceans and Fish subcommittee I am pleased to see the Senate focus on this important resource that impacts every single one of us, and people around the globe.”

Senator Olympia J. Snowe, Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere and Coast Guard, said “Indisputably, the health of our watersheds and oceans is inextricably linked to the sustainability of our economy in Maine and in coastal communities nationwide.  Throughout my tenure as Ranking Member on the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, I have worked to enhance management and protection of the nation’s invaluable coastal and ocean resources.  The Senate Oceans Caucus is a major step forward in our recognition of the significant environmental and economic roles played by our oceans, and through this coordinated bipartisan effort that centralizes key priorities from all of our stakeholders and industries, our caucus has the potential to speak in a loud and unified voice on behalf of our coastal resources, yielding significant economic and environmental benefits for us all.”

“In my home state of Hawaii, we depend on the Pacific for food, shipping, recreation, and tourism,” said Senator Akaka.  “This caucus is an excellent opportunity to find common ground and drive local economies with healthy fishing, tourism, and manufacturing industries.”

“The Long Island Sound plays a central role in Connecticut’s economy and environmental landscape, and the Senate Oceans Caucus presents another opportunity to protect it. The Sound is truly a national treasure, and we must work diligently to preserve it, as we must with all of America’s coastline,” said Senator Blumenthal.  The maritime industry supports millions of jobs in Connecticut and across the country, and I look forward to working with this bipartisan caucus to protect our oceans, preserve ocean communities, and grow the industries they support.”

“Protecting our oceans is critical to California’s $23 billion coastal economy, which supports nearly 390,000 jobs in tourism, fishing and recreation,” said Senator Boxer.  “I am pleased to be part of the bipartisan Oceans Caucus, which will work to find common-sense solutions that protect our oceans and strengthen our economy and our coastal communities.”

“The ocean plays a vital role in the Massachusetts economy, from our fishing industry to our ports and harbors, and tourism – all are very important to preserving and creating jobs,” said Senator Scott Brown.  “As a founding member of the Ocean Caucus, I look forward to discussing the important impact our oceans have on our economy as well as solutions to the challenges they face in a bi-partisan and open forum.”

“For centuries, the Pacific Ocean and Puget Sound have helped shape and define Washington state’s culture, people and way of living,” said Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), member of the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard.  “Washington state’s coastal region has sustained entire industries for generations and today supports 162,000 jobs and generates $9.5 billion in economic activity.  In this new role, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to preserve and restore our nation’s diverse marine resources to ensure they remain vibrant and bountiful for future generations.”

“Marylanders understand the essential role that water and our oceans have in a healthy economy and healthy environment.  I’m proud to be a part of this bipartisan effort to prioritize good stewardship of American waters so that they can sustain native fish, wildlife and our coastal economies for generations,” said Senator Ben Cardin, Chairman of the Senate Environmental and Public Works Water and Wildlife Subcommittee.

“Delaware enjoys many rewards as a coastal state. Each year, millions of residents and visitors relish our pristine shores, which helps create jobs and economic activity throughout the state,” said Senator Carper. “But with those rewards come many challenges. The state’s coast line and coastal communities face serious threats from climate change and rising sea levels – threats that other coastal states face as well. The Senate Oceans Caucus will bring together Members from ocean states to discuss how to work together to sustain and improve our oceans and the communities that depend on them for their livelihood.”

“Our oceans are important not only to the health of our planet, but to the economic vitality of our states,” Senator Coons said.  “Between tourism, recreation, energy, shipping and fishing, a wide variety of industries in my home state of Delaware are dependent on the seas.  The oceans are part of who we are, and we must do all we can to protect them.  That’s why I joined the Oceans Caucus, and why I look forward to working with my colleagues in exploring ways the Senate can help protect our oceans.”

“We in Hawaii know what it means to protect the ocean.  For us, the ocean is very important.  It is our home.  We live in the middle of it.  Caring for the ocean and being good stewards of our marine ecosystem is of the utmost importance to any island community and Hawaii is no different.  We must maintain the delicate balance between mankind’s evolution and pollution free oceans where marine life can thrive.  The sea provides us with so much. It gives us food and energy to power our way of life.  Research and scientific discoveries conducted at sea shape all aspects of our daily lives.  Our beaches help drive our economy by attracting visitors to Hawaii’s shores from around the world.  I look forward to participating in this caucus and working with my colleagues to ensure that the world’s oceans are protected,” said Senator Daniel K. Inouye.

“The Ocean Caucus will help focus attention on everything from laws that govern the seas, affect jobs and vital industries, concern our marine ecosystems, and protect our waters off Massachusetts,” said Senator Kerry.  “I’m proud to co-found this important effort here in the Senate.”

“I am proud to join my Senate colleagues from so many different coastal states on this caucus focused on preserving the nation’s oceans.,” Sen. Landrieu said.  “These oceans and the coasts that join them are a precious resource that provide an enormous benefit to the economy.  Particularly along the Gulf Coast, which is the heart of America’s working coast, contributing $3 trillion to the national economy and 17% of the National GDP.  As a member of this caucus, I look forward to continuing my efforts to highlight the need to restore the Gulf Coast and ensure that Gulf coast states get their fair share of tax revenue collected from the oil and gas produced in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“I am honored to add my voice to this bipartisan caucus,” said Senator Patty Murray. “Healthy oceans and coastlines lead to sustainable, family wage jobs and the beautiful natural environment that we enjoy in Washington state. This caucus will ensure we have the opportunity to discuss these very important issues.”

The Senators were joined today by representatives from ocean and coastal organizations supporting their efforts, including the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA), the National Ocean Industries Association (NOIA), the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), the National Federation of Regional Associations for Coastal and Ocean Observing (NFRA), and Ocean Champions.

$2.9 Million for Airport Renovations in Hilo, Hana, and Kalaupapa

Senator Daniel Akaka

Media Release:

U.S. Senators Daniel K. Akaka and Daniel K. Inouye announced today that $2.9 million in federal grants will be awarded to airports on the islands of Hawai’i, Maui, and Moloka’i.

“Hawaii’s airports provide residents access to friends and family, doctors and patients, and customers and business partners,” said Senator Akaka.  “Air travel is critical in our island state, and regular improvements are essential.”

“I am very pleased that the U.S. Department of Transportation recognizes the need to maintain our air travel infrastructure to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors.  These funds will help ensure that those traveling to and from Hilo, Hana, and Kalaupapa enjoy safe and timely air travel,” said Senator Inouye.

Federal grants were awarded by the FAA to the following projects:

  • Hilo International: Rehabilitate Apron, Rehabilitate Taxiway – $2,592,500
    This grant will provide federal funding for the Hilo International Airport in Hawaii to maintain the structural integrity of the taxiway and General Aviation Apron pavements threatened by surface variations and cracks.  The project will also correct severe ponding observed at Taxiways A, C, E, and L as the existing drainage is insufficient, and fix various striping, signage and lighting to comply with FAA part 139 requirements.
  • Hana: Improve Terminal Building – $150,000
    This grant will provide federal funding for the Hana Airport in Hawaii for the design phase to renovate and improve the public-use area in the existing terminal building.  The project will perform site investigation, propose scope of work to be done, generate bid documents, and provide post-design services for a project whose focus will be to renovate terminal spaces.
  • Kalaupapa: Improve Terminal Building – $150,000
    This grant will provide federal funding for the Kalaupapa Airport in Hawaii for the design phase to renovate and improve the public-use area in the existing terminal building.  The project will perform site investigation, propose scope of work to be done, generate bid documents, and provide post-design services for a project whose focus will be to renovate terminal spaces.

Senator Akaka on the Debt Limit

Media Release:
U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) delivered a statement on the debt limit today on the Senate floor.  The following are Senator Akaka’s remarks as prepared for delivery:

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Mr. President, I rise to speak about the budget and the debt ceiling, following the Senate’s failure to invoke cloture on a measure expressing that shared sacrifices from all Americans, including the wealthiest, are necessary to reduce the budget deficit.

As the Senate Budget Committee Chair has proposed, we must reach an agreement that strikes a balance between raising revenues and cutting spending, in which all Americans contribute to the solution.

Congress faces an important task.  Americans are following this debate because they have a stake in its outcome.  If we do not raise the debt ceiling, it will force the government to choose which of its many obligations it will meet.

As President Obama pointed out last week, we cannot guarantee that veterans and Social Security recipients will receive the checks we owe them on August 3 if we fail to reach a compromise.  If we fail, we will damage our credit rating and worldwide confidence in our financial system.

To avoid such a situation, I call on all of my colleagues to negotiate in good faith so that the creditworthiness of the United States is not compromised.  I hope we can reach an agreement that will bring down the debt without placing most of the burden on the vulnerable among us: the sick, the poor, the long-term unemployed, and the elderly.

Mr. President, while we must reduce spending, we cannot forget to continue investing in our nation’s future.  I came of age during the Great Depression and served in World War II, along with my colleagues Senator Inouye and Senator Lautenberg.

We were the beneficiaries of one of the federal government’s greatest investments: the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the GI Bill of Rights.  This visionary federal legislation enabled returning World War II veterans, many who, like myself, came from families of modest means and may never have otherwise attended college.

The GI Bill not only changed the lives of its beneficiaries, it changed the United States by laying the groundwork for the emergence of our middle class, which remains the backbone of our country.  Many other valuable investments made in the years that followed, such as the Interstate Highway System and federal funding for research programs at the nation’s leading universities, propelled America into one of history’s greatest periods of economic expansion, social advancement, and technological innovation.

None of these investments simply happened.  They were made by past Congresses and Presidents from both parties.  These legacies have proven repeatedly that dedicated social and economic investments are effective drivers of recovery, growth, and future success.  As we move forward and make difficult but necessary choices to cut spending, we must strengthen those programs that are restoring our economic health.

Reaching an agreement on the debt ceiling and deficit reduction will undoubtedly require all of us to make difficult compromises on spending and revenues.  As debate on these issues continues, I urge each of my colleagues to remember the obligation that we have to preserve the nation’s creditworthiness and to defend our veterans and those depending on Social Security and other safety net programs from harm as we continue to make needed investments for recovery.

Thank you, Mr. President.  I yield the floor.

Hawaii Statehood 50th Anniversary Senate Resolution by Senator Akaka

U.S. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-HI) celebrates Hawaii’s 50th Anniversary of Statehood with a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate.

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