Card image cap

Brian Schatz's Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)



Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

Additional Information: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position, from their answers or Vote Smart's research.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Brian Schatz has refused to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2016 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2016.

  • Rated 100% by NARAL Pro-Choice America (
  • "Senator Schatz has demonstrated a clear and unwavering commitment to a woman's right to choose throughout his life and career. He firmly believes that women have a constitutionally protected right to make their own choices, and that government, and especially politicians, do not have the right to dictate or limit their options." (
  • "The Women's Health Protection Act would protect a woman's right to a safe and legal abortion by preempting restrictive regulations and laws meant to limit reproductive health services for women, like mandating that doctors perform unnecessary and invasive tests and procedures or forced waiting period for patients. Senator Schatz is an original co-sponsor of this legislation." (
  • Voted in favor of H.R.8 "Job Protection and Recession Prevention Act of 2012" (
  • Rated 0% by Americans for Prosperity (
  • "The budget proposal creates a fairer tax system by ending some tax breaks for the wealthiest one percent in order to provide more resources for middle-class workers and their families, clean energy programs, and investments in education programs like universal pre-K and affordable community college." (
  • "Today, our flawed criminal justice system imposes harsh punishments for non-violent, low-level drug crimes, creating a destructive cycle of recidivism that impacts those in our most vulnerable communities. […] By making these commonsense changes, we can make sure resources are directed toward violent criminals and give petty offenders a better chance at becoming productive members of society." (
  • Cosponsored S.1410 "Smarter Sentencing Act of 2014" (
  • "Senator Schatz has also supported vital funding for federal small business programs, because investment in our small businesses will pay off for generations to come. These programs benefit thousands of Hawai‘i small businesses by providing access to credit, training, and global markets." (
  • "I am pleased that the President has made clear that we should put an end to the automatic across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration, and invest in research and development, a strong national defense, education, and our nation's infrastructure." (
  • Voted in favor of H.R.22 "Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act" (
  • "In order to encourage angel investors to support startup businesses, the Angel Tax Credit Act would allow them to claim a tax credit equal to 25 percent of their aggregate qualifying equity investments of $25,000 or more to U.S.-based high-tech startups." (
  • "[...] supporting The Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2013 that would permanently enhance critical refundable tax credits that help keep millions of working families out of poverty. It would strengthen and expand the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC)." (
  • "In Hawai"i's State Legislature, he helped pass sweeping education reform that gave teachers, administrators, and communities more funding and control to implement effective practices for their schools. He will continue to fight to support our local families and schools -- starting with a complete overhaul of the No Child Left Behind program." (
  • Would you repeal the Common Core curriculum standards for public schools? "Teachers know best about what works in the classroom, so it’s important that Common Core is implemented in a way that respects teachers and doesn’t force schools to teach to the test. The idea, if implemented well, is sound, making sure every student has the skills for college or a career." (
  • "Madam President, I rise today in opposition to S. 1, which will circumvent the administration's official review process for projects crossing international borders and approve construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline, a pipeline dedicated to increasing production of some of the dirtiest, most polluting, and most dangerous crude oil in the world." (
  • Voted against S.1 "A Bill to Approve the Keystone XL Pipeline" (
  • "Brian will utilize his relationships with the Obama administration to maximize federal investment in renewable energy for Hawaii." (
  • "As Lieutenant Governor, Brian led the State’s clean energy efforts including the Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative, a federal and state partnership to advance renewable energy and energy efficiency in Hawai‘i. By bringing a greater focus to energy issues at the highest levels of state government, Brian was able to facilitate discussions among key players in the energy sector, putting Hawai‘i’s Renewable Energy Portfolio on track to be number one in the nation." (
  • "[...] with Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Henry Waxman on draft legislation that would require large polluters to pay for the pollution they emit, helping to combat climate change and clear the way for a clean energy future." (
  • "Working with other clean energy leaders in Congress, Senator Schatz is using his expertise in energy policy to work on legislation that creates a framework for putting a price on carbon pollution. This legislation would accelerate the nation’s transition to a clean energy economy and reduce U.S. carbon emissions, all while creating good jobs and lessening our dependence on fossil fuels." (
  • "Regulating carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act is morally and legally the right thing to do. Climate change impacts the health and welfare of all Americans. Severe weather events like droughts and wildfires have increased significantly, and coastal states including Hawai"i face direct threats from the impact of rising sea levels. The Clean Power Plan takes direct action to reverse climate change by regulating and reducing harmful carbon pollution from power plants." (
  • "We should be able to take action on stopping homemade, virtually invisible firearms." (
  • Rated 100% by Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (
  • Voted in favor of S.Amdt.2908 "Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act of 2015" (
  • "Senator Schatz is committed to expanding access to health care for every family, and to making the Affordable Care Act work successfully. This law will give thousands of uninsured people in Hawai‘i access to quality, affordable health care." (
  • "Beyond the obvious health benefits of covering these individuals, there are strong economic arguments for expansion for states, health care providers, and employers. The Affordable Care Act established a new minimum Medicaid eligibility level of 138 percent of the federal poverty level, with the federal government funding the entire cost of a state's expansion for the first three years, and never declining support below 90 percent [...]" (
  • Signed a letter stating: "Beyond the obvious health benefits of covering these individuals, there are strong economic arguments for expansion for states, health care providers, and employers. The Affordable Care Act established a new minimum Medicaid eligibility level of 138 percent of the federal poverty level, with the federal government funding the entire cost of a state's expansion for the first three years, and never declining support below 90 percent -- the highest federal match your state has ever received. An independent analysis found that in all but 8 states the amount of funding a state would receive for expanding eligibility would exceed the amount it receives through the federal highway program. The same study found that for most states the costs of expanding Medicaid would be less than one-sixth the amount they pay to attract businesses." (
  • "The executive actions, which have been used by every president since the 1950's, will make sure our immigration enforcement efforts are used to secure the border, prevent threats to national security, and protect public safety -- instead of wasting our resources deporting law-abiding immigrants who have lived in the country for years." (
  • Voted in favor of S.744 "Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act" (
  • "Senator Schatz has been steadfast in his commitment to equal rights for all Americans, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, color, national origin, disability, age, religion or sexual orientation. During his time as Chair of the Hawai‘i Democratic Party and then as Lieutenant Governor, Brian was on the frontlines of the long fight to bring marriage equality to Hawai‘i." (
  • Rated 100% by Human Rights Campaign (
  • "Yet, Senator Schatz has always known that civil unions do not go far enough. That's why, as a member of the United States Senate, he signed an amicus brief in the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Supreme Court case urging the Court to strike down the discriminatory law." (
  • Do you support the continued use of U.S. troops in Iraq, or should those troops be withdrawn? "Local Arab partners and the Iraqi government must lead the fight against ISIL. U.S. military advisers are important to this effort, but we cannot be engaged in combat operations. That is why Congress must revoke the previous war authorization and define our appropriate role in defeating ISIL." (
  • "ISIL is a group of barbaric terrorists and their extreme tactics display a shocking brutality that must be stopped. But as we have seen from past conflicts, sending American ground troops into the region will not bring peace to a conflict that demands a political solution [...] Our amendment makes clear that the United States needs a strategy for combating ISIL, but that strategy cannot include putting more Americans in harm's way. We must continue to work with our partners and allies in the region to find a political end to this conflict." (
  • Do you support the use of United States combat troops in Syria to defeat ISIS, or to end the rule of President Bashar al-Assad? "Defeating ISIL and severing its control over Syrian territory requires Arab partners working together, not U.S. combat troops on the front lines. Similarly, regional states must work together toward a political solution to end the Syrian civil war; the multiyear violence shows that there is no viable military resolution." (
  • "[...] Senator Schatz knows firsthand how important Social Security and Medicare are to Hawai"i's families. Seniors have earned these benefits through a lifetime of work, and he will oppose any and all attempts to cut benefits or privatize these programs, including through hidden cuts like chained CPI or raising the retirement age." (
  • Rated 100% by Alliance for Retired Americans (
  • "Senator Schatz firmly believes that Social Security is the most successful antipoverty program in United States history and should be strengthened, not undermined." (
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning abortion.

X a) Abortions should always be legally available.
b) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
c) Abortions should be legal only when pregnancy resulted from incest, rape, or when the life of the woman is endangered.
d) Abortions should be legal only when the life of the woman is endangered.
e) Abortions should always be illegal.
f) Abortions should be limited by waiting periods and parental notification requirements.
g) Prohibit the late-term abortion procedure known as "partial-birth" abortion.
h) Support "buffer zones" by requiring demonstrators to stay at least 15 feet away from abortion clinic doorways and driveways.
i) Other
Yes j) Should Hawaii government funding be provided to clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services?

Indicate the principles you support (if any) concerning affirmative action. State government agencies should take race and sex into account in the following sectors:

Yes a) College and university admissions
b) Public employment
c) State contracting
d) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) to address crime.

a) Increase state funds for construction of state prisons and for hiring of additional prison staff.
b) Support contracting with private sector firms to build and/or manage state prisons.
X c) End parole for repeat violent felons.
d) Support the use of the death penalty.
X e) Oppose the death penalty.
X f) Implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders.
X g) Inform communities when a convicted sex offender moves into the community.
h) Increase state funds for programs which rehabilitate and educate inmates during and after their prison sentences.
i) Decriminalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
j) Strengthen penalties and sentences for drug-related crimes.
X k) Strengthen penalties and sentences for sex offenders.
X l) Support the blood-alcohol-content limit defining drunk driving.
m) Prosecute juveniles who commit murder or other serious violent crimes as adults.
n) Support the transfer of Hawaii inmates to out-of-state prisons.
o) Support building a state prison in Kau on the Big Island.
X p) Support labeling Rohypnol the, "date-rape drug", as a controlled substance, which would make possession a felony.
q) Other
Yes r) Should suspects accused of sexual assault be tested for HIV?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning the economy and employment.

X a) Provide low interest loans and tax credits for starting, expanding, or relocating businesses.
X b) Reduce state government regulations on the private sector in order to encourage investment and economic expansion.
X c) Support limits on cash damages in lawsuits against businesses and professionals for product liability or malpractice.
d) Increase funding for state job-training programs that retrain displaced workers or teach skills needed in today's job market.
X e) Ban workers' compensation claims for stress attributed to disciplinary actions on the job.
f) Legalize casino gambling in Hawaii.
g) Support a state lottery.
h) Support a state lottery if all the funds were used to fund education.
X i) Oppose a state lottery.
j) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.

X a) Increase state funds for professional development of public school teachers and administrators.
b) Encourage private or corporate investment in public school programs.
c) Provide parents with state-funded vouchers to send their children to any participating school (public, private, religious).
X d) Favor charter schools where independent groups receive state authorization and funding to establish new schools.
X e) Support sex education programs which stress abstinence.
X f) Support sex education programs which stress safe sexual practices.
g) Increase state funds for school construction and facility maintenance.
X h) Increase state funds for hiring of additional teachers.
i) Endorse teacher-led voluntary prayer in public schools.
X j) Grant the University of Hawaii more autonomy in running the university system.
k) Other
Yes l) Should the state Board of Education be appointed by the Governor instead of elected?
m) Do you support establishing elected county school boards in place of the state Board of Education?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.

X a) Require the use of cleaner burning fuels in order to prevent pollution.
X b) Support "self-audit" legislation which creates incentives for industries to audit themselves and clean up pollution.
c) Require a cost/benefit analysis to determine the economic impact of proposed environmental regulations before they are implemented.
d) Require the state to fully compensate citizens when environmental regulations limit uses on privately owned land.
X e) Provide funding for recycling programs in Hawaii.
f) Request added flexibility from the federal government in enforcing and funding federal environmental regulations.
g) Suspend participation in unfunded, federally mandated environmental protection legislation.
h) Restructure the electric utility industry to allow consumers to choose their power company.
i) Limit public access and research projects on the Mauna Kea mountaintop.
X j) Support the state proposal to buy the Queen's Beach area in Hawaii Kai for $11 million to use as a state park.
k) Other
Yes l) State environmental regulations should not be stricter than federal law.
No m) Do you support the proposal to buy the Waiahole ditch system?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding government reform.a) Do you support limits on the number of terms of the following Hawaii officials?b) Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative candidates?

Undecided 1) State Senators and Representatives
Undecided 2) Governor
Undecided 1) Individual
Undecided 2) PAC
Undecided 3) Corporate
Yes c) Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information?
Undecided d) Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns?
Yes e) Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns?
Undecided f) Would you vote to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring an annual balanced federal budget?
g) Other
No h) Do you support Hawaii holding a constitutional convention to evaluate the state constitution?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning gun issues.

a) Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.
X b) Increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
c) Maintain state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
d) Ease state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
e) Repeal state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens.
f) Favor allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms.
g) Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms.
h) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding Hawaii's annexation.

a) Support recognizing the laws of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
b) Support creating a council of Native Hawaiians who would be consulted before the approval of land transactions in the Hawaiian Islands.
c) Support nation-within-a-nation sovereignty similar to Tribal Nations.
d) Support secession from the United States and establishing Hawaii as an independent sovereign nation.
e) Oppose Hawaiian independence from the U.S.
X f) Other
Leave matters of Hawaiian concern to those of Hawaiian descent.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health issues.

X a) Provide tax incentives to small businesses that provide health care to their employees.
X b) Ensure that citizens have access to basic health care, through managed care, insurance reforms, or state funded care when necessary.
X c) Provide health care to uninsured children and low-income families through Hawaii's QUEST health insurance program.
d) Transfer more existing Medicaid recipients into managed care programs.
X e) Use state funds to continue some Medicaid coverage for legal immigrants.
X f) Limit the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.
g) Guaranteeing medical care to all citizens is not a responsibility of state government.
h) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding social issues.

X a) Increase state funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy.
X b) Provide tax credits for businesses that provide child care for their employees.
X c) Increase state funds to provide child care to children in low-income working families.
X d) Deny or suspend state-issued permits and licenses to parents who are delinquent in paying court-ordered child support.
e) Favor banning smoking in public places.
X f) Increase state funding for Head Start in order to serve additional children and/or increase services from a half to a full day.
X g) Increase state funding for community centers and other social agencies in areas with at-risk youth.
h) Support state funding of programs for at-risk youth such as guaranteed college loans and job training and placement.
i) Other
Yes j) Do you believe that the Hawaii government should include sexual orientation in Hawaii's anti-discrimination laws?
Undecided k) Do you believe that the Hawaii government should recognize same-sex marriages?
Undecided l) Do you support a constitutional amendment granting the Hawaii Legislature the power to limit marriage to opposite-sex couples?

Indicate the funding levels you will support for the following general categories. Select one level only.

Maintain Status a) Agriculture
Maintain Status b) Education (K-12)
Maintain Status c) Education (Higher)
Slightly Increase d) Environment
Slightly Increase e) Health care
Maintain Status f) Law enforcement
Slightly Decrease g) Transportation infrastructure (highways, roads, bridges)
Maintain Status h) Welfare
i) Other

Indicate the tax levels you will support. Select one level only.

Slightly Increase a) Alcohol taxes
Maintain Status b) Capital gains taxes
Greatly Increase c) Cigarette taxes
Maintain Status d) Corporate taxes
Maintain Status e) Gas taxes
Slightly Decrease f) Income taxes (incomes below $75,000)
Maintain Status g) Income taxes (incomes above $75,000)
Slightly Decrease h) Sales taxes
Maintain Status i) Excise taxes
k) Other
No l) Do you support a flat tax structure for state income taxes?
Undecided m) Do you support implementing state property taxes?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding welfare.

X a) Maintain the five-year limit on welfare benefits.
X b) Require that able-bodied recipients participate in work-related programs in order to receive benefits.
X c) Increase employment and job training programs for welfare recipients.
X d) Provide tax incentives to businesses that hire welfare recipients.
X e) Provide child care for welfare recipients who work.
X f) Increase access to public transportation for welfare recipients who work.
g) Allow welfare recipients to remain eligible for benefits while saving money for education, starting a business, or buying a home.
X h) Limit benefits given to recipients if they have additional children while on welfare.
i) Eliminate government-funded welfare programs.
j) Other
Please explain what your two main legislative priorities will be if elected. Please explain how you would obtain any additional government funding needed to implement these priorities.

Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches.