Despite all the nonsense that's been going on in D.C., Senator Brian Schatz (D. HI) has been keeping busy.  Recently Schatz is teaming up with Senator Bernie Sanders (I. VT) to help low wage federal contract workers get better pay:


Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today joined low-paid government contract workers at a rally outside the White House as part of a one-day strike for better pay. Sanders also organized a group of 15 senators who urged President Barack Obama to set a minimum-wage preference for private companies doing business with the federal government and to pay all workers decent wages and benefits.

The senators urged Obama to issue an executive order that would be tantamount to setting a minimum wage for federal contractors. In their letter to Obama, the senators said that at least $10.10 an hour should be paid to the lowest-paid of the some 2 million employees of private businesses that last year alone received more than $446 billion in federal contracts.

A National Employment Law Project survey found that more than seven out of 10 workers who make military uniforms, drive trucks, serve food and perform janitorial services were paid less than $10 an hour.

“That is simply unacceptable,” the senators wrote to the president. “Profitable corporations that receive lucrative contracts from the federal government should pay all of their workers a decent wage,” according to the letter from Sanders and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Irene Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.). - VT Digger, 9/25/13

Schatz also praised his colleagues help in the Senate to strip the Monsanto Protection Act from the House version of a stopgap funding measure:


“The Monsanto Protection Act is bad policy for the country and the State of Hawaii. The Senate version of the Continuing Resolution does not include this provision, effectively repealing the Monsanto Protection Act. This provision took the ability of the Secretary of Agriculture to fully exercise his regulatory power over GMOs, and compromised the role of our courts as a check on the legislative and executive systems, making it significantly more difficult for concerned citizens to present their case." - Honolulu Civil Beat, 9/25/13
Schatz has also been fighting to stop a government shutdown because it's impact would royally hurt Hawaii:


Sen. Brian Schatz laid out what he believes the stakes are, as well as his ardent desire to avoid a shutdown, in a written statement on Friday. “Congress must pass a continuing (budget) resolution to prevent the government from shutting down. Without it, hundreds of thousands of federal workers could be furloughed, Social Security and veterans benefits could be stalled. Defense Department cuts from sequestration alone have already cost Hawaii an estimated $42 million because 12,700 employees had to be furloughed in our state."

The debate to keep the government running is just one of two looming crises facing Congress. Shortly after the stopgap budget issue is resolved one way or the other, Congress will have to take up raising the debt ceiling to keep the nation from reneging on its loans. Basically, before the U.S. government breaches a predefined limit on how much the U.S. Treasury can borrow to meet the government's obligations, Congress has to approve increasing the limit — and many of President Obama's political opponents on the right insist that they will not agree to do so.

A default would have broad consequences that would affect people across the nation, as well as in Hawaii, hurting the economy and raising interest rates, said Honolulu economist Paul Brewbaker.

The multiple budget showdowns could also have political implications.

With Republicans trying to assuage Tea Party activists by insisting on defunding Obamacare, they risk being blamed again for causing a shutdown, as they were in 1995. Though many conservative commentators these days are once again saying a shutdown would not hurt Republicans, the Atlantic noted that the 1995 shutdown, driven by Republicans set on weakening a Democratic leader, led to President Bill Clinton's landslide victory in 1996.

Schatz criticized Republicans in a written statement on Friday for complicating the debate by injecting the defunding of health reform into the budget talks. “I will refuse to engage in the process of political gymnastics designed to score small, short-term wins at the expense of the American people. It should be pointed out that anyone who wants to grind the entire government to a halt over the implementation of this law will cause harm to their communities, who use federal funding to provide essential services and programs to constituents in every state and every district." - Honolulu Civil beat, 9/23/13

Schatz also co-sponsored a few new education bills:


Date Shot: 6/2/13.Senator  Mark Schatz.tanegawedding.com .Camera Brand:NIKON CORPORATION.Sendai Nikon Corporation 277, Aza-hara, Tako, Natori, Miyagi 981-1221 .Camera Model:NIKON CORPORATION.Camera Serial 2051135.Lens:105VR 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED.F-Stop:11.Shutter:1/160.Mode:multi-segment.ISO:100.Actuations:74764.Shared Rights ©2013 Jayson Tanega
The Senator is an official co-sponsor of the following bills:

Pre-K and Early Childhood Education

The Senator has co-sponsored S.322, Ready to Learn Act, S. 519, the PRE-K Act or Providing Resources Early for Kids Act of 2013, and S. 502 (112th S. 1156), the Prepare All Kids Act of 2013, which provide funds to support full-day pre-kindergarten programs that use nationally-recognized best practices for early childhood education and reach low-income and under-served children.

Counseling and After School Opportunities

Because counseling and guidance for students is critical for their success, the Senator co-sponsored S. 282, the Counseling for Career Choice Act, which would provide competitive grants to states to develop comprehensive counseling programs that give students effective career guidance and planning for after graduation.
The Senator co-sponsored S.195, Mental Health in Schools Act of 2013 and S.648, Helping Educators Support All Students Act to provide students with access to school-based comprehensive mental health programs and train teachers and school professionals on awareness of student mental health conditions.
The Senator also co-sponsored S. 326 (112th S. 1370), the After School for America's Children Act, to extend and improve the 21st Century Community Learning Centers after school program.  Currently over 5,600 children in Hawaii participate in after school activities through 21st Century Learning Centers, and studies show that their participation improved their homework completion, class participation, attendance, and behavior.

Fostering Excellent Educators

The Senator co-sponsored a number of bills to foster excellent educators.  S.358, STEM Master Teacher Corps Act of 2013and S. 456, the Annual National Classified School Employee of the Year Award Act recognize excellent educators and schools professionals and encourage them to become leaders.  S. 441, the Professional Development for Educators Act of 2013 funds high-quality professional development for educators to create a culture of continuing improvement.

Modernizing Our Schools

For Hawai‘i students to be able to compete nationally and globally, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, their schools must be world-class.  The Senator co-sponsored S. 439, the Career and Technical Education Facilities Modernization Act, because it provides support to school districts, community colleges, and other education institutions for modernizing, renovating, or repairing facilities used to provide STEM, career, and technical education. - Hawaii Reporter, 9/23/13

Schatz is also doing his part to help make sure the Affordable Care Act is implemented properly.  The Hawai‘i Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs will receive $3,023,387 from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create a Hawai‘i Data Center that will support the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance rate review and increase transparency in health care pricing:


“Greater oversight of insurance rates will help to ensure Hawai‘i’s families receive quality, affordable health care,” said U.S. Senator Brian Schatz. “Implementation of President Obama’s health plan will protect our communities, make care more affordable, and give Hawai‘i families control over the care they receive.”

This funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will:

Establish Data Collection: With Cycle III funding, Hawaii will create an All Payers Claims Database (APCD), a database that systematically collects medical claims data from  both public and private payer sources.
Expand and Improve Data Analysis: The Hawaii Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs will use the data from the APCD to identify variations in and between market segments, with the ultimate goal of improving the quality of health care and lowering health care costs.
Increase Health Pricing Transparency: Hawaii will establish a website that provides medical pricing data and fee schedules that reflect market rates and quantifies geographic variation. This website will be regularly updated with new pricing data. In addition, the website will also provide clear descriptions of the statistical methodologies used to develop the fee schedule.  In addition, Hawaii will also develop a data release policy to support the release and use of the APCD data, while protecting data security and confidentiality. (CMS, 9/23/13) - Maui TV News, 9/24/13

And Schatz is also calling for renewing the debate on gun control:


Schatz says most Americans believe in common sense reform.

“The right to keep and bear arms is not being questioned here. The basic idea is aren’t we to have some basic, common sense safety legislation to make sure that people with severe mental illness, or people with a history of violence are not allowed to use firearms,” U.S. Senator Brian Schatz said.

The senator wants to join his colleagues in renewing the debate on tightening gun control measures.

He believes bipartisan legislation can be accomplished. - KHON 2, 9/17/13

Schatz truly has been delivering for Hawaii and he is a true blue progressive.  He's running in a very tight primary against Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (D. HI-01) and he deserves our full support.  Lets help him win his primary so we have another strong progressive ally in the U.S. Senate:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Sep 26, 2013 at 06:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by In Support of Labor and Unions, Social Security Defenders, The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA), and Shut Down the NRA.

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