Civil Beat Staff

Michael Levine

Editor’s Note: This is the final installment of a three-part series on retiring Sen. Daniel Akaka.

Part 1: Akaka Retiring: Plenty Aloha, But What About Accomplishments?

Part 2: Akaka Retiring: Hawaii Senator Leaving Office With Legacy Bill In Limbo

Congress has become increasingly polarized in recent years with Republicans and Democrats seemingly unable to set aside ideological loyalties and compromise.

But the last politician to blame would be Sen. Daniel Akaka, whose abiding legacy will surely be his patient efforts to bridge that widening political gulf.

Sen. Jim Inhofe is an Oklahoma Republican and the political opposite of Akaka, but still considers him a close friend.

“He’s always ranked among the most liberal and I’m always ranked among the most conservative, and yet we’re truly brothers,” Inhofe told Civil Beat. “In terms of what we stand for and our philosophy, we couldn’t be further apart. But in terms of our relationship, nobody could be closer than Danny Akaka and I.”

Inhofe chalks up the relationship to their shared faith, and said Akaka would routinely take requests for psalms and hymns at the weekly prayer breakfast senators share. One memorable example was “Just As I Am“, which Inhofe said was a tribute to how each senator is

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WASHINGTON — Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. The State of Hawaii is abiding by half of that adage.

The administration of Gov. Neil Abercrombie has signaled that the biennial budget it submits to the Hawaii Legislature in December will assume Congress finds a way to fix the sequestration cuts set to take effect at the end of the year.

If left unaddressed, the state believes, the cuts would erase a total of $35 million to $40 million of federal support from more than 100 Hawaii government programs.

“Each of the departments in the state that receive federal funds, they’ve been talking with the federal agencies, but there’s been very little insight because the federal agencies don’t even have insight on where they would start these cuts,” state Budget Director Kalbert Young told Civil Beat last week.

The sequester is one component of the so-called “fiscal cliff” now facing the country. (The other major piece is the expiration of Bush-era tax cuts.) Congress and President Barack Obama agreed in August 2011 to impose automatic across-the-board cuts to federal programs if negotiators were unable to shave more than $1 trillion in spending by January 2013.

When it was created, the sequester was intended

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WASHINGTON — She hasn’t even been sworn in yet, but Congresswoman-Elect Tulsi Gabbard is already trying to get comfortable in Congress.

This week is orientation for newly elected members, so Gabbard and dozens of her soon-to-be colleagues — all members of the class of the 113th Congress — are getting an introduction on what they can expect when they join the ranks of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Everything from figuring out where to go in the building to very important and in-depth briefings on ethics,” Gabbard said Thursday when asked what she’s been told so far.

“I’m taking every opportunity to meet both with our Democratic colleagues, our fellow new member-elects, as well as on the Republican side, so there have been a number of occasions to introduce ourselves to each other and get to know each other,” she said. “What I have found very refreshing and exciting has been how happy everyone is to be here, how ready everyone is to get to work, and really come in with a new approach to getting things done and working together.”

During the interview — in a hallway in the recesses of the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center here — former Speaker and current Democratic Leader

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ARLINGTON, Va. — Arlington National Cemetery is huge.

I’d been to Punchbowl, also known as the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, and expected something similar. I wasn’t wrong; the mood is similarly somber and dignified. But the sheer size of Arlington, the number of veterans buried there and the number of mourners and visitors paying their respects gives the monument a unique gravitas.

The cemetery and memorial at Punchbowl cover a little more than 100 acres and is the final resting place for somewhere around 40,000 veterans. Arlington, by comparison, is more than 600 acres of winding roads and footpaths with some 300,000 burial plots.

And still, the numbers don’t do the experience at Arlington justice.

Around every corner, there’s a hillside speckled with white grave markers, with parallel rows stretching off toward the horizon. They’re spaced in such a way that every few steps as you walk, markers align anew and create different lines heading into the distance. The geometry is particularly overwhelming when you realize each white dot represents a life, a man or woman who served their country.

A closer look at some of the markers reveals that many of those buried here did not die while serving. Some lived full lives,

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