Hawaii’s Congressional delegation responds to State of the Union

Local News

Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai was on the escort committee as President Barack Obama made his way to the podium to deliver his State of the Union address Tuesday.

He applauded the president’s pledges of support for America’s working families.

“President Obama addressed a multitude of issues critical to moving our nation forward. I especially applaud his support for working families. It is not right that anyone working a full-time job should struggle to pay for basic amenities, and I think it is past time for us to address this issue thoroughly,” Takai said. “I support the President’s proposals for more accessible and affordable care for our keiki, expanded sick leave and maternity leave, and equal pay for equal work. I also fully support the President’s initiative to close the corporate-tax loopholes afforded only to big business, and to put those tax breaks toward alleviating the burden of our middle-class families.

“The President’s effort to make college more accessible and affordable is one that I have championed during my time in the Hawaii State Legislature, and it is a cause that I believe remains at the forefront of education issues,” Takai continued, referring to President Obama’s proposal for universal two years of free community college. “We need to make college accessible for everyone, as it is key for improving the economic welfare of our middle-class families.”

Below are statements from other members of Hawaii’s Democratic Congressional delegation.Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:

“Rather than focus on words tonight, we should focus on what is ahead for our nation.

“Growing our economy, and truly building a strong middle class, must drive our legislative agenda. I agree with the President’s focus on building the 21st century infrastructure that our businesses and communities need – more modern airports, stronger bridges, and the fastest internet. This is something that Democrats and Republicans can agree on.

“America also needs true Wall Street reform, which begins with reinstating Glass-Steagall. The financial stability of our nation depends on serious efforts to prevent Wall Street from making risky investments at taxpayer expense. The focus must always be on the needs of Main Street; we must prevent big banks from gambling with the well-being of our nation.

“Finally, national security is top of mind for people across the country. The President was right to come to Congress tonight and ask for authorization to use military force against ISIS; my concern however is that the Administration still has not accurately identified our enemy, nor have they clearly articulated what the strategy will be to defeat this enemy. A reality of war is that if you don’t know and understand your enemy, you cannot defeat them. To protect the American people, we must acknowledge that 9/11, as well as the recent violent attacks in Paris, and elsewhere around the world, are rooted in Islamic extremism. This is as much an ideological war as it is a military war, and we have to understand what that ideology is before we can defeat it. This is not just about one group called ISIS, or another group called al Qaeda – this is about an overall threat posed by this radical Islamic extremist agenda. Once we understand this, then we can come up with an effective strategy to defeat this threat.”Sen. Brian Schatz:

“Tonight we heard the President lay out his vision for the year ahead to ensure that our economy continues its recovery and that our economic policies and priorities strengthen and expand the middle class.

“This is particularly important in Hawaii, where the high cost of living makes it tougher for hard-working middle class families to share in the American dream.

“For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have used unfair loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Tonight, the President proposed a simpler, fairer tax code that closes those loopholes and uses those savings to support tax credits for working parents. These smart investments will help middle class families succeed and bolster our economy.

“The President’s proposal to expand access to higher education and make community college free for every responsible student is an important step forward. We all know that a college education is the best way for people to move up the economic ladder.

“I am also glad that the President focused on home ownership and the need to make mortgages more affordable. Helping families attain the dream of home ownership is even more important in Hawai’i, where the high prices stress family budgets.

“I hope as we begin the New Year my Republican colleagues in Congress will welcome the President’s proposals to strengthen the middle class and will work with Democrats to make the American dream a reality for all Americans.”Sen. Mazie Hirono:

“In his State of the Union address tonight, the President made it clear he is on the side of the middle class, and I’m proud to stand with him on the side of working families. I will support the President’s efforts that strengthen our economy and grow the middle class.

“I’m reminded tonight of a homeless high school student I met in Hawaii named Victoria, who has not let her homelessness define her and always has hoped for a better life. Because of opportunities and encouragement from her principal and community, Victoria is now in college on a full scholarship at the University of Hawaii and I know she will succeed at whatever she puts her mind to.

“The President’s forward thinking initiative to fund two years of community college will be a game changer for families I’ve met in Hawaii and across the country. We must make investing in our keiki and our future a top priority-from expanding Pre-K to making college more affordable. The President and I are fighting to level the playing field for people like Victoria. We’re on their side.

“I also stand with the President against any efforts to dismantle critical Wall Street reforms and environmental protections. In our island state, we are particularly aware of how important it is to protect our land, water, and other natural resources in the face of our changing climate.

“Tonight the President laid out how we must invest in our middle class families, which means investing in our infrastructure. In Hawaii, investing in our roads, ports, public transit systems and airports will not only be good for commerce but also create jobs and strengthen communities.

“I look forward to working with the Administration and engaging in many spirited debates with my colleagues to achieve an agenda that works for Hawaii and is on the right side of American middle class and working families, homeowners, and students.”

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