Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) led the push for the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act that recently passed the Senate with bipartisan support. The bill is aimed at addressing a surge in attacks on Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Hirono joined Washington Post reporter David Nakamura to discuss the legislation and personal reflections from her new memoir, “Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter’s Story.” Hirono is the first in a series of conversations on Washington Post Live to mark Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May.

Highlights

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) says, if passed, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is a step toward better reporting of hate crimes. Hirono adds, “Just because this bill gets enacted doesn’t mean hearts and minds will follow…There are other things we all should be doing to call attention to this kind of hatred in our country.” (Washington Post Live)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) says she hopes Justice Department is taking a look at the Atlanta shootings that left six Asian women dead for any potential federal charges. “I hope that the Department of Justice is taking a look at stepping in, in some way, as they are doing in Minneapolis.” (Washington Post Live)
Following pressure from Asian American leaders for more representation in senior White House positions, President Biden selected Erika Moritsugu to serve as a senior adviser overseeing outreach to AAPI communities. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who has advocated for more cabinet-level AAPI representation, says having diverse faces at the table leads to better decision making. “When diverse faces are at the table making decisions, it telegraphs to the entire country that diversity is not anything to be afraid of, that we should embrace, and diverse voices and opinions and views make for a better discussion, better decisions.” (Washington Post Live)

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii)

Provided by the Office of Mazie K. Hirono.

Mazie K. Hirono was elected to the Senate in 2012 and sworn in as Hawaii’s first female senator and the country’s first Asian-American woman senator. Throughout her time in the Senate, Hirono has fought on behalf of Hawaii families and communities whose voices are not often heard in Congress.

Hirono serves on the Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, the Committee on the Judiciary, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, and the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs. She is also Chairman of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and the Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy.

Born in Fukushima, Japan, Hirono was nearly eight years old when her mother brought her and her siblings to Hawaii to escape an abusive husband and seek a better life. Hirono served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 1981 to 1994 and earned a reputation as an advocate for consumers and workers. After being elected as Hawaii’s lieutenant governor in 1994, Hirono led efforts to support Hawaii’s tourism industry through visa reform. Voters in Hawaii’s second congressional district elected Hirono to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2006.