Sen. Mazie Hirono donates salary to food banks helping federal employees in Hawaii amid 'unfair, completely unnecessary' government shutdown

Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, speaks during the Senate Democrats’ news conference to officially file a petition to force a vote on net neutrality, May 9, 2018. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

As President Trump and Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill continue a standoff over funding for the proposed Mexican-border wall, the partial government shutdown has affected nearly 800,000 federal workers nationwide, with many men and women working without pay over the holidays.

Just as Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) called on her colleagues to take action in response to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony in the Bret Kavanaugh hearing this past fall, once again the congresswoman plans to “shut up and step up,” taking the initiative to help the employees and families affected by the shutdown over the holidays.

“More than 2,500 federal workers in Hawaii are either furloughed or working without pay during the holidays because Donald Trump shut down the government,” Hirono said in a statement. “As long as Donald Trump refuses to re-open the government, I will be donating my salary to Hawaii’s food banks — who serve nearly one in eight Hawaii residents in need.”

The Hawaii senator announced that she will distribute her salary to the Hawaii Food Bank on Oahu and Kauai, the Maui Food Bank, and Hawaii Food Basket on Hawaii Island — all of which service the four counties of the state.

This wouldn’t be the first time that the Hawaii senator shared her salary with her constituents. Hirono had previously donated her pay to various Hawaiian charities and organizations during the 2013 government shutdown, and during the partial shutdown last January, she turned over her paycheck to Hawaii’s 14 federally qualified community health centers. 

The third partial government shutdown of 2018 began last week when the White House rejected a bill passed in the Senate that would keep the government open. In the 11th hour, Trump instead demanded $5 billion to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Now, with 25 percent of the federal government shut down, employees with “essential jobs,” including TSA, military and more, have been forced to work without pay for a week.

“This shutdown is totally unfair, completely unnecessary and entirely the President’s fault,” Hirono said in a statement on her official site. “Donald Trump needs to face the reality that he won’t get $5 billion for his wall and accept responsibility for keeping the government running.”

The immigration issue at the heart of the border wall debate hits particularly close to home for Hirono. When she was only 8 years old, Hirono immigrated to America with her single mom from Japan without knowing any English. She later went on to become not only the first Asian-American woman ever elected to the U.S. Senate, but also the first immigrant ever to serve in the Senate.

Watch Sen. Mazie Hirono’s Makers profile to learn all about her inspiring story: