Job: U.S. senator
Background: Former lieutenant governor, state representative; former Democratic Party chairman
What makes you qualified to be a U.S. senator?
I’ve been effective in getting things done for Hawaii. In the Senate, I’ve passed legislation and increased federal funds for important Hawaii projects. I’m the only new senator chairing two subcommittees. As Tourism chair, I’m working on creating local jobs, and as Water and Power chair I’m pushing clean energy.
Should the United States recognize a Native Hawaiian government through an administrative rule rather than an act of Congress?
The United States should not condone unequal treatment. Native Hawaiians deserve the right to self-governance. The publication of the proposed rule is the beginning of an important public dialogue. I encourage broad participation so the full range of voices in Hawaii are heard during the federal rulemaking process.
What changes, if any, would you make to the federal health care reform law?
The ACA is a good law, allowing children to stay on their parents’ plans until age 26 and preventing insurance companies from denying people with pre-existing conditions coverage. Like any major legislation, it needs adjustments. I’m working with my colleagues on bipartisan amendments to add flexibility for my constituents and businesses.
Should Hawaii be exempt from the Jones Act, the federal maritime law that protects the domestic shipping industry from foreign competition?
Every President since Ronald Reagan has agreed that the Jones Act is necessary for our national security because we need the industrial capacity to build ships and to have U.S. owned and flagged vessels available in times of crisis. It is also necessary to maintain a guaranteed flow of goods to Hawaii.
Would you repeal the Common Core curriculum standards for public schools?
Teachers know best about what works in the classroom, so it’s important that Common Core is implemented in a way that respects teachers and doesn’t force schools to teach to the test. The idea, if implemented well, is sound, making sure every student has the skills for college or a career.