With Republicans in control of the White House and in Congress, will Hawaii’s Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill face a tougher battle sending federal dollars our way?
According to our delegation, President-Elect Donald Trump and Congressional colleagues realize that Hawaii is an important part of national security, so those federal funds will keep coming to Hawaii.
They say military spending is one of the top priorities, and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa says she’s already working to make sure that the bill to authorize Department of Defense spending moves forward.
“We need that because what that does is it ensures the viability of Pearl Harbor, all our bases here, and the jobs,” she said.
It’s an issue that delegates say is considered important by both political parties.
“I think any president would be very concerned about national security issues and as we in Hawaii are in the middle of the Pacific,” said U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono. “The rebalance to Asia-Pacific is very important.”
Hawaii delegates admit there will be some challenges along the way, but U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz says his position in the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee puts Hawaii in a good position.
“Members of the appropriations committee have always worked in a bipartisan fashion, and I don’t expect that’s going to change any time soon,” he said.
Schatz says he’s also encouraged that Trump likes to build and invest on infrastructure, so that could bring more money to Hawaii for roads, harbors, and airports.
As for the Honolulu rail project, the senator says he’s also confident that the Federal Transit Administration will come through with the rest of the funding.
“The FTA money is a contract between HART and the federal government, so although it has to be put into the regular appropriations bill, it is not a controversial item,” Schatz said.
Hanabusa is a little more uncertain. “Remember now, we are already in breach of that agreement, because we can’t build it to Ala Moana with the amounts that we had agreed to do,” she said.
Gabbard was unavailable Wednesday, but sent a statement that said she wants to ensure Congress supports our service members and honors our veterans, enacts criminal justice reform, and takes real steps to protect the environment.