U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) fielded questions on a variety of topics – from the North Korean nuclear threat to the future of Obamacare – during a well-attended town hall session hosted April 17 by Chaminade University and Saint Louis School.
Organizing the meeting was the Social Justice League, a newly formed campus group comprised of Chaminade students, faculty and staff.
In introducing the senator, Chaminade President Bro. Bernard Ploeger, SM, described Schatz as “a friend of education” who supports funding for student aid, student loans and Title III federal grants the university receives as a Native Hawaiian-serving institution.
Schatz, a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, emphasized the need for vigilance in seeking federal dollars for Hawaii. His committee assignment areas include: Education, Health and Human Services, Defense and Veterans Affairs.
“We are 5,000 miles away from Washington,” Schatz pointed out, “and we need a Congressional delegation to have that focus no matter what else is happening.”
Even though Schatz believes Americans have some “incredible challenges in front of us,” he remains cautiously optimistic that millions of citizens will continue receiving health insurance through the Obama Administration’s Affordable Care Act.
And although the Environmental Protection Agency might have “a lighter enforcement touch” under the Trump Administration, Schatz believes many “green” initiatives will continue, including clean air, clean water and renewable energy programs garnering bipartisan support.
As for the likelihood of North Korea firing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile at Hawaii, Schatz said “the risk is real” but that Mainland states are more likely targets for a strike.
“Let us worry about it,” Schatz said in calling for the U.S. government to shore up its missile defense systems and pursue additional intelligence gathering on the Korean Peninsula.
Schatz’s appearance was in keeping with Chaminade’s tradition of inviting a wide range of prominent guest speakers to discuss important issues of the day.