Democrats to look for 'indirect ways' to raise minimum wage: Sen. Mazie Hirono

George Stephanopoulos interviews Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, on "This Week."
5:29 | 02/28/21

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Transcript for Democrats to look for 'indirect ways' to raise minimum wage: Sen. Mazie Hirono
Let's bring in democratic senator Mazie hirono. Of Hawaii. Senator, thank you for joining us this morning. I want to begin with that action against Saudi Arabia. President Biden said he's going to announcing more actions tomorrow. Should he be doing more to target the crown prince personally? He's re-assessing our relationship with Saudi Arabia, which is an ally, and I don't think the chapter is closed on the outcome of a disclosure of this report. That's my hope. So what would you like to see I don't know because, let's face it, George, it's a very complicated situation. Saudi Arabia is an ally and so, yes, there are calls to do more, and I await the reassessment that Joe Biden is going to engage in regarding Saudi Arabia. The pause in arms sales, that I think hits Saudi Arabia, and I think that there will be more, I hope so. Let's talk about the covid relief bill, the minimum wage as we talked about has been stripped from the senate package and there are a variety of proposals to respond to that, senator Sanders promises strip tax breaks to big companies that pay $15 an hour. What's the best way to address this right now? First of all, we need to get the massive covid bill passed and we know that we're going to have to do it without any Republican support. It's on Republicans why we're having a hard time getting the covid bill done in congress, not across the country, so we are looking for other ways to in effect require an increase in the minimum wage, which hasn't been increased in over ten years or so. But can the bill be passed if some minimum wage increa is included in the bill? According to the parliamentarian, we can't do it. We can't raise the minimum wage directly. We'll look for indirect ways to affect that. And tt would be restricting the tax breaks for corporations, you support that? Yes, I do. I'll support all kind of ways. I support raising the minimum wage in the covid bill, because that's a huge part of economic recovery. The people who are suffering most from the minimum wage and what's happening in the pandemic are the essential workers, many of them are women and many of them are getting paid very low wages. $7.25 an hour is $15,000 a year that's poverty level. Let me ask you about governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, "The New York Times" is reporting that a second state employee has come forward accusing him of sexual harassment. We see "The New York Times" right there. He denies the charges, you've been outspoken about sexual harassment charges in the past, said men should shut up and step up during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. What's the proper response to these allegations against governor Cuomo? The proper response for any of these kinds of allegations of reprehensible, inexcusable behavior is to listen to the mainly women who come forward because it takes great courage for them to come forward, to listen to them and then to do the appropriate investigation and Krob cosh of the allegations. It should be the attorney general of New York. Finally, senator, you were the first Asian American woman elected to the senate, a striking surge in anti-asian hate crimes here in America, why is this happening and what should be done about it? It's happening because we didn't have leadership at the top, starting from president trump calling it the China virus and the Kung flu and all of that, which apparently it unleashed this kind of targeted hate crimes among Asian Americans, and the increase is dramatic. Just last week in New York, a person who was just walking down the street got knifed, he is in serious condition, soon thereafter, four people walking in New York were knifed, one died. In California, you have incidents of 90-year-old people being knocked down, attacked. That person died. So I'm glad that Joe Biden unlike trump has put this issue forward through his executive memorandum which by the way contains many of the provisions that I put in a resolution that I tried to pass last year condemning targeted hate crimes against Asian Americans. The idea is for the attorney general, soon-to-be new attorney general to work with community groups to prevent and prosecute these kind of hate crimes. So it's being recognized by president Biden and that, you know, leadership throughout our country should condemn in no uncertain terms, when you have Asian Americans afraid to walk down the street for the fear of being knifed this is an issue that needs to be dealt with. Senator hirono, thank you. Thank you. Aloha.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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