Congresswoman Jill Tokuda shares hopes for the Hill

Congresswoman Jill Tokuda shares hopes for the Hill
Published: Jan. 8, 2023 at 10:18 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Early Saturday morning, Jill Tokuda was sworn in as Congresswoman representing Hawaii’s second district. She spoke to HNN about that moment and her new role.

“It was definitely surreal. You know, we came to DC thinking that on Tuesday, we would be raising our hands and being sworn in in front of family and friends and all of our fellow freshmen, it did take four days and 15 votes. But on Saturday morning, at about one o’clock, we finally became official, allowing us to really start the work. It was a humbling moment, one I will definitely never forget, but definitely also a week to remember as well as we watched democracy unfold, even in chaotic ways, right there in the halls of Congress,” Rep. Tokuda said.

When asked about the days-long and drama-filled process of electing a house speaker, she said: “I’ve never been in a position where I took four days of votes, and so many of them before I was even able to officially call myself a representative. So it was definitely something but I think it also spoke to us of things to come. And the fact that we’re going to have to stick together on behalf of the people to do work and get work done. The work cannot be done by one party alone. That was made evidently clear, by the last four days that you saw last week, it is going to have to be a bipartisan, you know, effort in order to really work for people.”

The next step is to pass a new set of House rules, and Rep. Tokuda said, “We’re gonna go back in on Monday, I actually have my packet of rules right here, I’ve been going through, it’s definitely a package that I feel will be difficult. I’m very concerned about many of the provisions. But quite frankly, there are also some that I would be supportive of, you know, a 72 hour rule, in order for us to be able to really read through the bills, it’s something similar to what we have in place for Hawaii’s legislature. And I think it increases transparency, will it make things longer in difficult? Absolutely. But I do approve of provisions like that being able to amend from the floor, it actually helps us as a minority to be able to do that, given that we will now not have the ability to really influence much of what goes on in the committees having lost those chairships. And so it’s not all bad. But I will tell you that I’m very concerned about many of the provisions in it that will hurt quite frankly, everyday Americans, and the kinds of initial bills that they’re looking to put forward that at the end of the day, will hurt the people of Hawaii and many communities across this country. So we’re looking at this laser focus in terms of the rules, but more importantly to how those rules will be put into place. And effectuated going forward.”

As far as top priorities and committee assignments, Rep. Takuda said: “I ran as a mother with the urgency looking at my kids and my nieces every day and worried that they won’t be able to see a future for themselves in Hawaii that all of our kids across the country will not do that. And so I think, for me a big priority is how are our families and our communities going to be able to make it, affordability issues, housing issues, can we make sure that education is that great equalizer that many of us have benefited from, but so many are held back from even being able to be a part of and so for myself, hoping to get on the Education and Labor committees, Agriculture is so important, from putting food on the table to making sure that our supporters, our agriculture industry, you know, our producers and our farmers can actually make it. These are big priorities for me. And so I’m very hopeful that I’ll be able to serve on key committees that will help us at the end of the day, help our families and our kids really see themselves being able to make it in Hawaii or wherever they choose to live.”