Hawaii’s significant defense interests in the FY 2016 federal budget are likely to find a sympathetic ear in the person of U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, named Thursday to the 16-member National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Committee.

Senator Mazie Hirono at her office interview. 25 feb 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Sen. Mazie Hirono in her Washington, D.C., office earlier this year.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hirono, a first-term senator, joins many more senior members on the committee, including Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and presidential candidate Lindsey Graham (R-SC). But she wasted no time in making her priorities clear for her work on the committee.

“The NDAA should reflect the United States’ national security priorities by supporting our men and women in uniform, sustaining a 21st century fighting force, and investing in long-term initiatives like the Rebalance to the Asia-Pacific,” said Hirono in a statement. “As a conferee, I will work to see that Hawaii continues to play a vital role in these efforts.”

Hirono voiced concerns on the ongoing impact of federal budget sequestration, which went into effect in 2013 as a fiscal austerity measure. Hawaii’s junior senator said the sequester “harms our economy and our national security. I look forward to working with my House and Senate colleagues to address these issues and find bipartisan solutions that will keep our military strong.”

The conference committee will resolve differences between the versions of the NDAA passed by the Senate and House. The resulting, unified bill will then have to be passed again by both bodies before the measure can be sent to the president for approval.

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