"A couple of weeks ago with hurricane season facing the people of Hawai`i, I met with high ranking officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and urged them to rescind any furloughs for their Hawai`i staff and to consider the same action for the rest of the country. I followed up on May 24th with an official letter to the Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank that underscored the point that weather forecasts matter and save lives.
"In that same letter I asked for the full engagement of Commerce in developing a plan that ensures that all American communities have continued support from the National Weather Service expert meteorologists and climatologists. I had confidence in Commerce and today they have taken the right action for Hawai`i and the rest of the country.
"Recognizing its primary mission of protecting health, safety and the well-being of this nation, NOAA has announced today a plan that will rescind all furlough days for its workers, including national weather forecasters.
"These workers are essential and, as the devastating and saddening events of recent weeks remind us, must be on the job without interruption to keep our country safe. Whether it is the heartland of America, our many national flood plains, the mainland coastlines exposed to hurricanes, or our Pacific islands, the know-how and experience of the people who help us understand and prepare for the potential impacts of weather is a team we can't do without.
I applaud the action announced by Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA administrator, Dr. Kathy Sullivan, to cancel furloughs of approximately 12,000 workers, including more than 3,500 weather forecasters, and to make adjustments with their budget for the rest of this year. This will have impacts elsewhere, and Congress will work with the Department of Commerce and NOAA to manage its priorities as effectively as possible. This is the necessary and right thing to do."