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Rep. Gabbard and Senator Sanders Introduce “Raise the Wage Act”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D, HI-02) stood with Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic leaders from the House and Senate to introduce the Raise the Wage Act today.

The legislation would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2024 and index the minimum wage to the median wage growth thereafter. It has been 10 years since legislation was enacted increasing the federal minimum wage. When adjusted for inflation, about 40 percent of today’s workers earn less than the minimum wage in 1968. The Raise the Wage Act would give more than 41 million low-wage workers a raise, increasing the wages of almost 30 percent of the U.S. workforce.

“In my home state of Hawaiʻi, and across the country, far too many people are working one or two full-time minimum wage jobs, living in poverty, and barely scraping by. The federal minimum wage has fallen far behind inflation and has actually lost value over time, meaning working families are making less while paying more just to make ends meet. The federal minimum wage has stagnated for the last 10 years—it is long overdue for Congress to do the right thing for hard-working Americans and raise the minimum wage,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has supported legislation to raise the federal minimum wage throughout her time in Congress, and is an original cosponsor of the legislation introduced today to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. She has also cosponsored legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R.1869) to address wage discrimination across the United States.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Trump’s Massive Budget Cuts Threaten Hawaii, American People

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today warned that the Trump Administration’s 2018 Budget Blueprint puts the health and safety of the most vulnerable in our country at risk with massive cuts to government programs that spur economic growth and provide critical services. The budget slashes $1.4 trillion from programs families in Hawaiʻi and across the country depend on, including:

  • $610 billion in cuts to Medicaid that serves over 348,000 people in Hawaiʻi
  • $191 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) that serves over 170,000 people in Hawaiʻi
  • $72 billion in cuts to the Social Security’s disability program, which serves over 19,000 people in Hawaiʻi
  • $143 billion from federal student loans, including the elimination of federally subsidized loans and loan forgiveness programs that serve Hawaiʻi nurses, police officers, and teachers
  • $40.4 billion in cuts to the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit, which assist one in eight Hawaiʻi keiki living in poverty

Click to read

In a speech on the House floor today, the congresswoman said, “The president’s budget proposal put forward today will be damaging to the people in our communities and the places that we call home. It cuts Medicaid by over $600 billion, cuts the food stamp program by over 25%, affecting the most needy within our communities. It slashes infrastructure programs, eliminates TIGER grants, cuts student loan and financial aid programs, and includes catastrophic cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency. In my home state of Hawai’i, this budget zeros out federal funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant, the Native Hawaiian Loan Guarantee Program, and cuts Native Hawaiian Education programs by $33 million dollars, crippling the progress that’s been made for over 30 years to strengthen Native Hawaiian early education, literacy, gifted and talented education programs, higher education, vocational programs and more. I strongly oppose this budget, and look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to pass a budget that actually serves the people and our planet.”

Reps. Gabbard, Perry Introduce Bill to Permanently End Warrantless Collection of Americans’ Emails

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Scott Perry (R-PA), both founding members of the Fourth Amendment Caucus, introduced legislation today to permanently codify protections on Americans’ privacy.

Last month, the NSA announced it is ending its collection of Americans’ Internet communications that merely mention identifying terms for foreign targets, but are not to or from those targets, also known as “about” surveillance. The legislation introduced today would permanently codify this policy change into law. Gabbard and Perry, both veterans of the Iraq War, also co-chair the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “For years, the NSA has been collecting phone and online communications from everyday Americans across the country, defying the rights and liberties granted to us under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The 2008 FISA Amendments, specifically Section 702, has led to massive government-led exploitation of personal privacy through the collection of American citizens’ emails. We need serious reforms that balance the protection of our civil liberties and rights through our constitution, and also keep the American people safe. The NSA recently announced that they would stop collecting our emails and electronic communications under Section 702, but what is to say that it won’t start up again? Our legislation will keep our country from backtracking on this progress by permanently codifying this policy change and banning this privacy-invading collection from taking place again.”

Rep. Scott Perry said, “The NSA recently changed policy to prohibit the collection of electronic communications sent or received by American citizens that merely mention a foreign target of surveillance. This practice has long been used as an end-around the Fourth Amendment, and we commend the NSA for aligning their collection efforts with the Constitution. The legislation ensures that this important win for the American people cannot be reversed under future administrations. I thank Congresswoman Gabbard for her continued efforts on this issue and look forward to seeing this bill move quickly.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has long advocated for reforms that address our government’s responsibility to protect civil liberties and ensure a strong national defense. She has actively sought reforms to Section 702, the Patriot Act, introduced legislation to strengthen and expand the functions of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), and is a founding member of the bipartisan Fourth Amendment Caucus focused on protecting the privacy and security of Americans in the digital age.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Condemns New U.S. Arms Sale to Saudi Arabia

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today condemned the Trump Administration’s new $460 billion arms deal with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia—$110 billion immediately and $350 billion over the next 10 years—a country with a devastating record of human rights violations at home and abroad, and a long history of providing support to terrorist organizations that threaten the American people.  Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor and propagator of the extremist Wahhabi Salafist ideology that fuels terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.  Based on Saudi Arabia’s history and track record, there is a significant likelihood these weapons will be used against innocent civilians or end up in the hands of terrorist groups.

“Saudi Arabia has spent hundreds of billions of dollars spreading their extreme Wahhabi Salafist ideology around the world, creating fertile ground for terrorist organizations like ISIS and al-Qaeda to recruit, while simultaneously providing direct support to terrorist groups who pose a direct threat to US interests and who are fighting to overthrow the Syrian government. The hypocrisy in the Trump administration’s actions toward Saudi Arabia began in February 2017 with the newly-appointed CIA Director Mike Pompeo presenting Saudi Crown Prince bin Nayef with the George Tenet Award in recognition of Prince bin Nayef’s ‘excellent intelligence performance, in the domain of counter-terrorism and his unbound contribution to realise world security and peace.’ This hypocrisy continues now as the Trump administration talks tough against ISIS and terrorism, while selling weapons to, supporting, and praising a country that beheads dissidents, oppresses women, persecutes religious minorities, atheists, and LGBT people, and is the greatest supporter of terror groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS in the world today. This arms deal will enable Saudi Arabia to use U.S.-made weapons in their war crimes against Yemeni civilians in a brutal civil war, and continue perpetuating human rights atrocities at home and abroad,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has introduced H.R. 608, the bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act, which would prohibit any Federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to provide weapons, cash, intelligence, or any support to armed militants who are allied with al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terrorist groups, and it will prohibit the U.S. government from funneling money and weapons through other countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar who are directly or indirectly supporting terrorists.  Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard also recently sent a letter to Secretary Mattis urging an end to the United States’ military participation in Yemen’s civil war, where 19 million people need emergency support and which has never been authorized by Congress, and calling for a Congressional briefing on the White House’s strategy in Yemen.

2017 Kaha Kiʻi Congressional Art Competition Finalists – Rep. Gabbard Launches “People’s Choice” Contest on Facebook

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today announced thirteen finalists in her Fifth Annual Kaha Kiʻi Second Congressional District Art Competition and launched a “People’s Choice” contest on the Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Facebook Page where the public can select their favorite pieces. A gallery of the finalists’ artwork is now on display in the halls of the Hawaiʻi State Capitol. Each spring, the congresswoman sponsors the event to recognize and encourage creativity across Hawai‘i as part of a nationwide high school art competition with other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I encourage everyone in the community to check out the art being showcased by these gifted students from across the state of Hawaiʻi—either see the pieces in person at the Hawaiʻi State Capitol, or take a look on my Facebook page. You will be impressed and inspired by their talent and creativity,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.  “Our annual Kaha Kiʻi Congressional Art Competition is a great opportunity to recognize the creative abilities of Hawaii’s young adults and encourages them to further pursue their artistic talents. Congratulations to this year’s finalists, and mahalo to the educators and family members who have supported these students as they embrace their passion.”

The overall winner of the district-wide competition will be announced on May 13th in a ceremony at the Hawai‘i State Capitol. The first-place piece will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol alongside winners from all other congressional districts. The second-place and third-place pieces will be hung in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Washington, DC and Hawaiʻi offices (respectively) for one year. All winners will be awarded with a cash prize.

The entry with the most Likes, Loves, and Shares in the “People’s Choice” Contest on Facebook on Thursday, May 11th at 5:00 p.m. HST will be featured as the cover photo at the top of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s official Facebook page, and the artist will win a cash prize.

The 2017 Kaha Kiʻi Congressional Art Competition Finalists are listed below, and their artwork is shown in the corresponding graphic from left to right, top to bottom:

  • Water Is Life – Standing Rock by Riley Herendeen, Grade 11, Parker School (Hawaiʻi Island)
  • The Old Ways by Tori Wills, Grade 12, Kalaheo High (Oʻahu)
  • Fozzie by Paxton Bender, Grade 12, Leilehua High (Oʻahu)
  • Wahine’Ume’Ume by Chais Pascua, Grade 12, Baldwin High (Maui)
  • Hula Skirts by Lacey Santos, Grade 12, Seabury Hall (Maui)
  • Stoked by Emma Sanchez, Grade 11, Kalaheo High (Oʻahu)
  • Innocence by Sophia Kauffmann, Grade 11, Parker School (Hawaiʻi Island)
  • Self Portrait by Lillian Pickering, Grade 12, Seabury Hall (Maui)
  • Surrounded by Ruby Ranoa, Grade 11, Kalaheo High (Oʻahu)
  • Looking Into the Future Through the Past by Hunter Weigle, Grade 12, Parker School (Hawaiʻi Island)
  • Girl in the Shadows by Sonja Angst, Grade 12, Molokaʻi High School
  • What’s Around by Daymien Rodrigues, Grade 9, Leilehua High (Oʻahu)
  • Submerged by Jackie Duliere, Grade 12, Leilehua High (Oʻahu)

Each spring, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard sponsors the Kaha Kiʻi Congressional Art Competition as part of a nationwide high school arts competition. The Congressional Art Competition is open to all high school students in Hawaii’s 2nd Congressional District. For more information, click here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes Against Republican Healthcare Bill

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after voting against the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The bill is opposed by the AARP, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, the National Disability Rights Network, the AFL-CIO, the National Farmers Union, the National Education Association, among others. The bill passed the House by a vote of 217-213 and now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“The bill that passed today is not a healthcare bill—it’s a big handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. This bill slashes $880 billion from Medicaid, strips away health benefits like maternity care, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services, expands a crippling age tax on our seniors, eliminates healthcare tax credits for over 7 million veterans, and breaks the bank for those with pre-existing conditions. While corporations rake in over $600 billion in tax breaks, many low-income Americans will see their coverage drop completely. This partisan bill was rushed through, resulting in corporate benefits on the backs of the people.

“We need real healthcare reform that brings down costs, increases access to quality care, and ensures basic health services are available to all Americans. As a cosponsor of H.R.676, the Expanded & Improved Medicare for All Act, I’m working towards a system that will provide universal healthcare to all Americans—a standard met by nearly every other industrialized nation.”

Earlier this week, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke against the American Health Care Act on the House floor and urged Congress to vote no.

Video – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Republican Health Care Bill Keeps Getting Worse

In a speech on the House floor today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) urged the House to reject the Republican’s latest health care bill:

“I recently wrapped up a town hall tour across my district in Hawaiʻi, visiting every single island. A common theme that I heard from folks was one of concern and questions about this Republican health care bill that we may be voting on later this week. They’re worried about their aging parents not being able to pay for their premiums and prescriptions, and that newly added provisions that threaten those with pre-existing conditions with skyrocketing costs will have such a devastating impact.

“Every time we hear about the new versions and new changes to this bill, it gets worse than the one before. Among a host of new problems, the newest version strips away protections on healthcare benefits like maternity care, substance abuse, and mental health services, while also expanding an already crippling age tax against our seniors—against our kūpuna.

“No matter how you package it, this bill is a handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies while breaking the bank for those most in need of care. I urge my colleagues to stand in strong opposition to this bill and instead pass a health care bill that works for the American people.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Opposes Attack on Net Neutrality

In a speech on the House floor today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke out strongly against the FCC’s recent announcement of plans to unravel net neutrality:

“Yesterday, the new Trump-appointed FCC Chair announced his mission to undermine the net neutrality rules we fought so hard to put in place. In 2015, over 4 million people submitted comments, calling on the FCC to keep the internet open and fair.

“However, the FCC’s new Chairman, who used to work as counsel for Verizon, wants to turn the internet into a system of pay-to-play fast lanes for big money and those who can afford it, leaving everyone else behind in the slow lane.

“This hands the levers of access over to big ISPs at the expense of students, small businesses, entrepreneurs, independent content creators, and millions more.

“In today’s digital age, maintaining open and equal internet access is essential to breaking down barriers in education, media, expanding access to jobs and employment, driving innovation in healthcare, and so much more.

“We must stand strong in opposition to the FCC’s attack on fairness, equality, and net neutrality.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has strongly supported net neutrality, and has cosponsored legislation to prohibit multi-tiered pricing agreements between ISPs and content providers.

PACOM Commander Confirms North Korea’s Threat to Hawaii

In a House Armed Services Committee hearing today, Admiral Harry Harris, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), confirmed the threat of North Korea to Hawaiʻi and detailed potential vulnerabilities that exist within current U.S. missile defense capabilities that could put Hawaiʻi at risk.

Admiral Harry Harris

Asked by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea to Hawaiʻi specifically, Admiral Harris stated, “Kim Jong-un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawai’i today…Our ballistic missile architecture is sufficient to protect Hawaiʻi today, but it can be overwhelmed. If Kim Jong-un or someone else launched ballistic missiles—ICBMs—against the United States, we would have to make the decision on which ones to take out or not.”

Following the hearing Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:
“Hawaiʻi is home to the largest concentration of U.S. military strategic assets for well over 3,000 miles, making it a prime target for North Korea’s aggression. As I travelled across Hawai’i during my recent state-wide town hall tour, I heard from my constituents on every island their concern about the threat posed by North Korea’s increased nuclear and ballistic missile activity and capabilities that place Hawaiʻi squarely within North Korea’s crosshairs. It is the people of Hawaiʻi and our way of life that are at risk if North Korea’s missiles turn towards our shores. Admiral Harris’ testimony today affirmed the seriousness of this threat, and highlighted the need to strengthen our current missile defense infrastructure to ensure the defense of Hawai’i. I’m continuing this urgent push to strengthen the protection of Hawaiʻi against the threat that exists today, and the complex threat we know will emerge in the future. I urge my colleagues to take this threat seriously and provide the resources and tools necessary to defend Hawaiʻi against this threat.”

Background: Missile defense has been one of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s top priorities throughout her time in Congress. Last year, she passed two amendments in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—one to provide funding to begin the process of bringing an MRDR to Hawaiʻi, and the other to require the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) to brief Congress on their short-term plan to enhance missile defense capabilities in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific—and also questioned then SECDEF Carter and Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff about the need to increase Hawaiʻi’s missile defense. She has had ongoing conversations and meetings with the Missile Defense Agency Director, Vice Admiral James Syring, to discuss possible options for the defense of Hawaiʻi, to deal with short term and long term needs. This includes quickly deployable options that are available to further strengthen the existing defensive assets within the state.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses Kauaʻi Dairy, Labor Unions, Water Quality at Town Hall With 500+ Garden Isle Residents

More than 500 Kauaʻi residents packed into the Veterans Center in Līhue to hear from Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) at her sixth Town Hall on a statewide tour.

The audience shared concern over the difficulty in accessing quality affordable healthcare, expressed strong support for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s work to reinstate Glass-Steagall and reform Wall Street, and favored her bill (H.R.1227) to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, removing the conflict between federal and state law for places like Hawaiʻi that have approved medical marijuana dispensaries.

Local concerns that took center stage during the Q&A included protecting water and reef quality, the high cost of inter-island travel, the Jones Act, and “Right to Work” legislation. Kauaʻi residents also asked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria, and they thanked her for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608).

The final stop on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour is tonight on Maui. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

Tulsi’s Maui Town Hall:

Tonight, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Lānaʻi Town Hall, Addresses Local and National Issues

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted an intimate Town Hall on the Island of Lānaʻi this evening, where over one hundred residents turned out despite the pouring rain—something they welcomed after a very long period of dryness. Students from the Lānaʻi Academy of Performing Arts kicked off the meeting with a lively local rendition of The Lion King’s “Circle of Life.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard spoke about her work in Congress and the bills she’s introduced and cosponsored that affect Hawaiʻi communities. The Lānaʻi residents were particularly interested in her work to improve access to services and health care in rural areas, high cost of housing, and increased opportunities for workforce vocational training. They stressed the importance of protecting our environment and preserving precious water resources.

Other local issues discussed included federal funding for highways and education, improving veteran services on the island, and supporting local farmers whose focus is farm-to-table and increasing food security.

A Lānaʻi resident from Syria thanked Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for fighting for peace in her home country after the congresswoman spoke about the need to end the counterproductive regime change war in Syria. Other topics of interest included the threat of North Korea’s nuclear escalation, defeating terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda, and Trump’s recent illegal attack on Syria.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Statement on President’s Repeal of Clean Energy, Environment Protections

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order rolling back progress to fight climate change and promote clean energy nationwide:

“In light of President Trump’s Executive Order paving the path for the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines, and slashing funding for the EPA by nearly one-third, the consequence of today’s actions on our environment and precious water resources are especially concerning. Unless we make a concerted effort to reduce carbon emissions, invest in clean energy, create green jobs, and improve our air and water quality, we are moving backwards, at a time when our planet simply cannot afford for us to do so. In spite of this action today, I have no doubt that Hawaiʻi will continue to lead the nation in renewable energy production. We must continue investing in renewable energy, moving away from foreign oil and fossil fuels, and moving toward our goal of 100% clean energy by 2045.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces Hawaiʻi Students Nominated to Military Service Academies

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released the names and photos of her nominations to the U.S. Military Service Academies for classes entering Summer 2017.  After an exhaustive application and interview process, she nominated twenty-two students from across Hawaii’s Second Congressional District. Their applications are now being considered for final selection by the United States Military Academy at West Point, the United States Naval Academy, and the United States Air Force Academy.

“Across Hawaiʻi, high school seniors will soon begin gearing up for graduation, summer plans, and either beginning college, serving in our military, or entering the work force. A select few will be enrolling in one of the U.S. Military Service Academies, and I’ve had the privilege and great responsibility of nominating twenty-two phenomenal applicants to represent our Aloha State in service to our country.  I wish each of these nominees the very best in the final weeks of the selection process and in their promising futures,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

The nomination application period opens May 15th of each year for candidates who are high school juniors and will be seniors the following school year, or who have already graduated. Nomination does not guarantee an appointment. The honor of attending a Military Service Academy comes with the obligation and commitment to serve in the military for a minimum of five years upon graduation. More information about the nominations process is available here.  

The following students from Hawaii’s Second Congressional District were nominated by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard to the corresponding military academy / academies below (photo available for download by clicking the nominee’s name).

HAWAIʻI ISLAND RESIDENTS

KAUAʻI RESIDENTS

MAUI RESIDENTS

OʻAHU RESIDENTS

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Federal Decriminalization of Marijuana

Continuing her commitment to common sense criminal justice reform, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today urging Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to federally decriminalize marijuana.

If passed, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act (H.R.1227) would take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list—joining other industries such as alcohol and tobacco. Gabbard introduced the legislation with Rep. Tom Garrett (VA-05), an Army veteran and former prosecutor.

“Our outdated policies on marijuana are having devastating ripple effects on individuals and communities across the country. They have turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families, and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate people for non-violent marijuana charges,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Differences in state and federal law have also created confusion and uncertainty for our local businesses, who face contradictory regulations that affect their bottom line and ability to operate. I urge our colleagues to support our bipartisan legislation which would decriminalize marijuana, bringing about long overdue and common sense reform.”

“There is growing consensus acknowledging that the effects of marijuana are less harmful than its criminal prohibition, which has increased incarceration rates, divided families, and burdened state governments with the high cost of enforcement, prison and probation. It’s clear that there are more vital needs that we as a society need to allocate our precious resources towards, such as education, mental health, and homelessness. Decriminalization is a step forward in making needed criminal justice reforms, which should also include more diversion to substance abuse treatment,” said Karen Umemoto, Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and juvenile justice researcher.

“As long as marijuana is federally illegal, FDIC regulations make it impossible for banks to provide any services to the eight Hawaiʻi Medical Marijuana Dispensary licensees. Federal decriminalization will enable professional dispensaries to provide much needed patient access and cost savings,” said Richard Ha, CEO of Lau Ola, a medical marijuana dispensary on Hawaiʻi Island.

“Descheduling cannabis will benefit Hawaiʻi patients by allowing for more rapid research to identify the best medical marijuana strains and dosages for individual medical conditions. Also, eliminating the barriers to banking will make it easier and safer for Hawaiʻi patients to purchase the medicine they need and eliminate unnecessary expense and complexity for dispensaries,” said Brian Goldstein, Founder and CEO of Mānoa Botanicals, a licensed medical marijuana dispensary on Oʻahu.

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard supports the full legalization of marijuana on the federal level as part of her overall effort toward criminal justice reform. Last month, she visited correctional facilities throughout the state, and met with inmates, criminal justice advocates and experts, health professionals, educators and others to discuss reducing recidivism and her continued efforts to pass federal criminal justice reform legislation like the SAFE Justice Act and the Sentencing Reform Act.

The congresswoman has also supported legislation like the Industrial Hemp Farming Act to support the cultivation of industrial hemp in Hawaiʻi and nationwide.

 

Commentary – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: CBO Confirms AHCA Is Bad Deal for American People

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its analysis on the American Health Care Act (AHCA):

“The CBO released the AHCA cost estimate today, confirming what many have been saying—the AHCA is really a handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies that will further exacerbate the burden on American families. While corporations rake in over $600 billion in tax breaks, our seniors will see their costs rise and low-income Americans will see their coverage drop completely. The proposed AHCA would slash funding for Medicaid by $880 billion over the next decade, threatening the health of millions of vulnerable Americans, and shifting costs to state and local governments that already face tight budgets. Seniors could see their premiums increase up to five times under new age-rating rules that do nothing except continue lining the pockets of insurance companies.

“While I have long called for serious improvements to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), it is imperative that any reforms to our healthcare system actually serve the health and wellbeing of people. This bill does the opposite—it will have a negative impact on the people of Hawaiʻi and our country. I strongly oppose this harmful legislation, and will continue working for true healthcare reform that puts people above the profits of corporations.”

Click to view report

Background: The AHCA is opposed by AARP, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Hospital Association, the American Nurses Association, the AFL-CIO, and others.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard Returns From Syria with Renewed Calls: End Regime Change War in Syria Now

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) returned to Washington, DC after a week-long visit to Damascus, Aleppo, and Beirut to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. She heard stories of suffering, pain, courage and hope from people all across the country.

Tulsi Gabbard meets with Syrian religious leaders in Aleppo, led by Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of the Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, and joined by Archbishop Joseph Tabji of Maronite Church of Aleppo, Rev. Ibrahim Nseir of the Arab Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Aleppo, and others. Each called for peace, and an end to foreign support of terrorists who are trying to rid Syria of its secular, pluralistic, free society. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

She met with refugees, Syrian opposition leaders who led protests in 2011, widows and family members of Syrians fighting alongside groups like al-Qaeda, as well as those fighting on the side of the government.

Tulsi Gabbard visits with Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other humanitarian workers at the Jibreen shelter, housing nearly 1,400 families who fled mostly the eastern part of Aleppo City. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

The Congresswoman also met with Lebanon’s newly-elected President Aoun and Prime Minister Hariri, U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, Syrian President Assad, Grand Mufti Hassoun, Archbishop Denys Antoine Chahda of Syrian Catholic Church of Aleppo, humanitarian workers, students, small business owners, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these women at the Barzi Community Center. Many of these women have husbands who are fighting on opposite sides of the war, but who find friendship and empowerment together in their daily sewing classes. They have hope to be able to provide for their family and take care of their children. When asked, “Where is your husband?” many reply, “He is lost.” Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the following statement upon her return:

“My visit to Syria has made it abundantly clear: Our counterproductive regime change war does not serve America’s interest, and it certainly isn’t in the interest of the Syrian people.

“As I visited with people from across the country, and heard heartbreaking stories of how this war has devastated their lives, I was asked, ‘Why is the United States and its allies helping al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups try to take over Syria? Syria did not attack the United States. Al-Qaeda did.’ I had no answer.

“I return to Washington, DC with even greater resolve to end our illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government. I call upon Congress and the new Administration to answer the pleas of the Syrian people immediately and support the Stop Arming Terrorists Act. We must stop directly and indirectly supporting terrorists—directly by providing weapons, training and logistical support to rebel groups affiliated with al-Qaeda and ISIS; and indirectly through Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey, who, in turn, support these terrorist groups. We must end our war to overthrow the Syrian government and focus our attention on defeating al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has waged wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“Originally, I had no intention of meeting with Assad, but when given the opportunity, I felt it was important to take it. I think we should be ready to meet with anyone if there’s a chance it can help bring about an end to this war, which is causing the Syrian people so much suffering.

“The U.S. must stop supporting terrorists who are destroying Syria and her people. The U.S. and other countries fueling this war must stop immediately. We must allow the Syrian people to try to recover from this terrible war.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) is a twice-deployed combat veteran who has served as the United States Representative for Hawaiʻi’s 2nd congressional district since 2013. As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Lebanon and Syria as part of a delegation led and sponsored by the Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS)–Ohio. The 7-day trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee, as required by House rules, and was not taxpayer funded. The trip included visits to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017. Other members of the delegation included former Congressman and Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich and his wife, longtime peace advocates Elie and Bassam Khawam, and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s husband, Abraham Williams.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met these children at a shelter in Aleppo. Their families fled the eastern part of the city. Many of these children have only known war, loss and hardship. Their families’ only wish is for peace. Photo courtesy of Abraham Williams.

Earlier this year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608), legislation that would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to support al-Qaeda, ISIS or other terrorist groups. In the same way that Congress passed the Boland Amendment to prohibit the funding and support to CIA backed-Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980’s, this bill would stop CIA or other Federal government activities in places like Syria by ensuring U.S. funds are not used to support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other terrorist groups working with them. It would also prohibit the Federal government from funding assistance to countries that are directly or indirectly supporting those terrorist groups. The bill achieves this by:

  1. Making it illegal for any U.S. Federal government funds to be used to provide assistance covered in this bill to terrorists. The assistance covered includes weapons, munitions, weapons platforms, intelligence, logistics, training, and cash.
  2. Making it illegal for the U.S. government to provide assistance covered in the bill to any nation that has given or continues to give such assistance to terrorists.
  3. Requiring the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to determine the individual and groups that should be considered terrorists, for the purposes of this bill, by determining: (a) the individuals and groups that are associated with, affiliated with, adherents to or cooperating with al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or ISIS; (b) the countries that are providing assistance covered in this bill to those individuals or groups.
  4. Requiring the DNI to review and update the list of countries and groups to which assistance is prohibited every six months, in consultation with the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committees, as well as the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
  5. Requiring the DNI to brief Congress on the determinations.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Congress On Your Corner, Addresses Maritime Pilots, Supports Arts Education

This morning on Maui, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard delivered welcoming remarks and a congressional update to 250 maritime pilots who direct ship navigation in and out of Hawaiʻi, as well as the country’s twenty-four ocean-bordering states.

tulsi-maui4She spoke about Hawaii’s rich culture and history based on sea navigation; the importance of safe, environmentally responsible, and efficient maritime commerce; and the effects of dangerous trade agreements on our country. The congresswoman also met with Captain Nancy Wagner, the first female ship pilot in the United States—today, more than sixty women work in this capacity as a senior sea officer in charge of bringing a ship in and out of port and responsible for the safe navigation of huge cargo ships and tankers.

tulsi-mauiIn Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard serves on the STEAM Caucus, which values the inclusion of Arts Education in conjunction with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). Today, she toured the Maui Academy of Performing Arts (MAPA) facility and met with its directors to discuss the importance of their arts programs in schools and off-campus, which support literacy through the arts for students in grades 3-12.

tulsi-maui2This afternoon, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard hosted a “Congress On Your Corner” event, where she visited with more than forty people from across Maui, listened to their ideas and concerns, and answered questions about her work in Congress and at home in Hawaiʻi. She also met with constituents and organization leaders in Makawao who are serving the needs of their community in various ways.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Addresses 2016 National Guard Association Conference

This morning, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard delivered remarks at the 2016 National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) Conference in Baltimore, MD.

tulsi-ngauMore than 3,000 National Guardsmen from every U.S. State, three territories and the District of Columbia attended the 3-day conference, including members of the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard and the Hawaiʻi Air National Guard.

In her speech, the congresswoman discussed the need to preserve the founding mission of the National Guard as the frontline force in domestic emergency response, shared how her more than 13 years of service in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard influences her work on the House Armed Services Committee and in Congress, and more.

She also paid tribute to U.S. Congressman Mark Takai, who addressed the NGAUS Conference in 2015 and served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 17 years.

NGAUS is the nation’s oldest military association working solely for the benefit of the National Guard of the United States and educating the public about the Guard’s role and history in the Armed Forces of the United States. NGAUS represents more than 470,000 men and women currently serving in the Army and Air National Guard, as well as their families, employers and all Guard retirees.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Secret Domestic Surveillance Activities Being Carried Out by Obama Administration

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released the following statement about the reported secret domestic surveillance activities being carried out by the Obama administration to obtain phone records from Verizon customers.

My son with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at the State Capital

My son with Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard at the State Capital

 “The American people deserve answers. It is absolutely unacceptable for our government to spy on millions of innocent Americans and indiscriminately obtain all of their cell phone records. This type of over-reach fuels the distrust people have in their government. According to intelligence experts, only a fraction of the information collected in this broad sweep is even used to pursue those suspected of terrorism.

“I understand the value of using counter-terrorism tactics and strategies in dealing with 21st century threats. However, we must not sacrifice the constitutionally protected privacy and freedoms for which so many have fought and given their lives. I will work with my colleagues in Congress to investigate this intrusion, and fulfill our oversight responsibilities.”