Democrat Hanabusa sworn in as GOP takes control of US House - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Democrat Hanabusa sworn in as GOP takes control of US House

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Democrat Colleen Hanabusa went from being president of the state Senate to being a freshman in the Republican-controlled US House Wednesday.

Wearing a lei and surrounded by family members, the 59-year-old was all smiles as she was sworn into office. She's one of nine Democratic freshmen, and one of only two who defeated an incumbent Republican for the job. Hanabusa beat out Charles Djou.

"The goals for my first year are really to serve the people of the state of Hawaii," she said in an interview with C-SPAN. "You know, we have a very fragile economy."

But with the GOP taking control of the House, Hanabusa and Democratic Congresswoman Mazie Hirono have a vigorous fight ahead.

"The Hawaii Legislature has always been dominated by Democrats," Hanabusa said. "Having said that, however, that doesn't mean that we didn't have factions and we didn't have, you know, sort of like groups within the majority."

Hirono hosted an open house at her Washington DC office called "Saimin with Mazie." Dozens of people, including other members of Congress, reportedly stopped by to warm up with a cup of hot noodles.

On a more serious note, Hirono says her priorities will be job creation and fighting the Republican plan to eliminate the pre-paid health care law.

"(That) is going to have a negative impact on small businesses in Hawaii who, right now, are able to get a pretty generous tax credit for providing health care to their employees," Hirono said.

She says she's also concerned that Republicans will extend tax cuts for the wealthy.

"Is whatever they're proposing going to create jobs?" Hirono asked. "Is it going to help the middle class? Is it going to lower the deficit or at least not add to the deficit? Those are the kinds of points that we will be raising on a continual basis."

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