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Cancer-Stricken Senator To Colleagues: 'Why Are We Here Tonight? Where Is Your Compassion?'

Senator Mazie Hirono's emotional speech is one for the ages.
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Senator Mazie Hirono has not received nearly the attention as Senator John McCain, but she, too, has been diagnosed with advanced-stage cancer and is recovering from surgery. Unlike the Senator from Arizona, Senator Hirono is fighting alongside the rest of us to save our health care, not rip it away.

During the debate on the Senate's sham bill that they don't want to become law, Senator Hirono gave this amazing, passionate, emotional, touching speech on the Senate floor.

You should watch it, but here's a rough transcript too.

Mr. President, I've spoken so many times now against the repeal of the Affordable Care Act which would hurt millions and millions of people in our country and especially the sickest, poorest, and oldest among us.

I would say that I am probably the only senator here who was not born in a hospital. I was born at home in rural Japan. I lost a sister to pneumonia when she was only 2 years old in Japan. She died at home. Not in a hospital where maybe her life could have been saved. It's hard for me to talk about this. I think you can tell.

Give me a moment.

When I came to this country as an immigrant, my mother brought me and my brothers to this country so we could have a chance at a better life. We came here with nothing. She had low-paying jobs. There was no health coverage.

Growing up as a young girl in Hawaii, my greatest fear was that my mother would get sick, And if she got sick, how were we going to pay for her care? How would she go to work? And if she didn't go to work, there would be no pay, there would be no money. I know what it's like to run out of money at the end of the month.

That was my life as an immigrant here. And now here I am a United States Senator.

I am fighting kidney cancer, and I am just so grateful that I had health insurance so that I could concentrate on the care that I needed rather than how the heck I was going to afford the care that was going to probably save my life.

And guess what? When I was diagnosed with kidney cancer and facing my first surgery, I heard from so many of my colleagues, including so many of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle who wrote me wonderful notes, sharing with me their own experience with major illness in their families or with their loved ones.

You showed me your care. You showed me your compassion.

Where is that tonight?

So I can't believe that a single senator in this body has not faced an illness or whose family member or loved one has not faced illness where they were so grateful that they had health care? I cannot believe that there is a single senator who has not experienced that in their family or their lives.

I know how important health care is. What I don't get is why every single senator does not know that.

Why are we here tonight voting on a bill that has not had a single hearing? Why are we here tonight voting on a bill that would eliminate health care coverage that could save lives for 16 million people?

Why are we here voting on a bill that will probably mean that people like me, millions in this country who are now in the ranks of those with preexisting conditions, will not get the health care we need?

Why are we here tonight? Where is your compassion?

Where is the care that you showed me when I was diagnosed with my illness? I find it hard to believe that we can sit here and vote on a bill that is going to hurt millions and millions of people in our country. We are better than that. I listened to john mcconnell on us to have hearings, to do the right thing, and I'm just saddened that he was not able to move us in that direction.

I would call on him tonight to vote his conscience, to vote with us, to say, we are going to stand for the millions of people in our country who will be hurt by p what we are contemplating tonight. Mr. President,

I will yield the floor by asking my friends to show the compassion to everybody in this country that you showed me. We all should be voting to send this bill to committee so we can debate it. I yield the floor.

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