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More Than 1,000 Maui Residents Pour Into Castle Theater For Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Last Stop On Statewide Town Hall Tour

At the Maui Arts & Cultural Center Castle Theater last night, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted her seventh Town Hall to an audience of more than 1,000 Maui residents, making it the largest of the crowds to gather for a stop on the congresswoman’s statewide tour between April 11-20. In total, more than 3,500 constituents from Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island participated in Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s “Aloha Town Hall Tour” with many of the meetings having more than 30,000 viewers via Facebook Live.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “As we wrap up this Aloha Town Hall Tour that has brought together so many of us from communities across the entire state, I want to express my gratitude to everyone who took the time to come out, to listen, to share, and to ask questions—your kindness, your activism, and your aloha is what made these meetings so powerful and productive. Each of us has an opportunity to act with love and aloha, to respect others, and to work together despite any differences we have as we do our best to be of service to others.”

Issues of concern that came up on the Valley Isle tonight included online privacy rights and the congresswoman’s fight to stop Internet Service Providers from selling individuals’ internet browsing history without consent, Maui’s water infrastructure, overcrowding at the island’s prison, the need for more programs that assist inmates and reduce recidivism, criminal justice reform, decriminalizing marijuana, and access to truly affordable healthcare—not just health insurance. The audience expressed support for her Stop Arming Terrorists Act, her continued push to end the illegal regime change war in Syria, and her fight for peace.

Earlier today on Maui, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard participated in the Future Forum with her House colleague Rep. Eric Swalwell (D, CA-15) to address common issues facing millennials, the challenges of entering the work force, and solutions to exponentially increasing student debt. The congresswoman also visited the Maui Food Innovation Center, where she met with young entrepreneurs and UH Maui College students to discuss sustainable business practices and food security on the Valley Isle.

For more information, please contact Erika Tsuji at (808) 286-0803.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Hilo Town Hall Draws Largest Crowd Yet on Statewide Tour With More Than 600 East Hawaii Residents

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) was in Hilo last night to host her fifth Town Hall in a series of seven statewide. More than 600 East Hawaiʻi residents attended the meeting at Waiakea High School—the largest crowd yet on the congresswoman’s Town Hall Tour across the islands. Many brought homemade signs showing their support for peace over escalating wars abroad. They expressed deep concern over the threat of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Hawaii’s preparedness, and also Trump’s recent illegal attack in Syria.

Residents asked Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard a variety of questions from healthcare to decriminalizing marijuana to criminal justice reform, and many other issues that affect the people of Hawaiʻi. She was thanked for introducing the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, for cosponsoring “Medicare for All” legislation, and for her work to honor Filipino World War II Veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal.

The next stops on Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s statewide Town Hall Tour are below. Second Congressional District residents are encouraged to RSVP at least one day prior to the meeting date at gabbard.house.gov/townhall or by calling the office at (808) 541-1986.

  • Kauaʻi – Tonight, Wednesday, April 19th, 6:00 – 7:30 PM, Kauaʻi Veterans Center, 3215 Kapule Hwy, Līhuʻe, HI 96766
  • Maui – Thursday, April 20th, 7:30 – 9:00 PM, Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, 1 Cameron Way, Kahului, HI 96732

 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Commemorates Day of Valor, Honors Filipino Veterans

This morning at the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Kauaʻi Mayor Bernard Carvalho delivered remarks to honor Filipino and Filipino-American veterans in commemoration of the 75th Ara Ng Kagitingan—The Day of Valor.  In her remarks, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed Major with the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard, shared the following:

“In 1942, over 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American soldiers were surrendered to the Japanese in what we now know as the Fall of Bataan. Despite the unimaginable hardship that they endured, these brave men fought relentlessly against their enemies without any outside support from either the Philippines or the United States. In total, around 21,000 soldiers lost their lives. The legacy and sacrifice of these heroes must never be forgotten. Nor can we forget the high cost of war and the lasting effects that inevitably define those who are touched by its reaches. Today, as we commemorate the Day of Valor, we honor all of our courageous warriors, as well as their families who have made tremendous sacrifices, and we give thanks for the great and lasting partnerships that were paved—truly—by these heroes.”

Today’s commemoration ceremony also celebrated the passage of landmark legislation, the Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015, which was introduced by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Sen. Mazie Hirono to honor Filipino Veterans of World War II, as well as the launch of the Filipino-American Veterans Parole Program.

Transcript of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s remarks:

Aloha. Mabuhay. It’s wonderful to be back home here in Hawaii from Washington and to be able to spend this special morning with all of you.

As a veteran and someone who has spent a lot of time in the Philippines, and with many friends from there, I feel very much at home and amongst family here today. I appreciate you welcoming all of us to join you in recognizing this important Day of Valor and sharing why it is so important to reflect on this historical event, especially in this most special place and amongst courageous heroes of past and present.

In 1942, over 60,000 Filipino and 15,000 American soldiers were surrendered to the Japanese in what we now know as the Fall of Bataan. Despite the unimaginable hardship that they endured, these brave men fought relentlessly against their enemies without any outside support from either the Philippines or the United States.

In total, around 21,000 soldiers lost their lives. The legacy and sacrifice of these heroes must never be forgotten. Nor can we forget the high cost of war and the lasting effects that inevitably define those who are touched by its reaches.

For decades, legislation has been introduced in the United States Congress to honor our Filipino Veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal and, as you’ve heard, we were finally successful at obtaining this long overdue recognition—thanks in large part to the support and leadership of so many of you here today. Last Session, I was very proud, along with Senator Hirono, to reintroduce and finally pass this legislation, honoring our Filipino Veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal Act, and see President Obama signed it into law in December, just before he left office.

It was a special thing to be able to share the stories and experiences of some of the Filipino veterans here today and their families with other members of Congress as we were seeking support to pass this legislation. In the House, where we have more than 435 members of Congress, we were able to get more than 300 of them to support and sponsor the legislation. It was wonderful to be able to talk with them on the House Floor, to share some of these stories with them, and to educate them about the storied history of these brave heroes who fought alongside our American soldiers—they deserve nothing but the highest honor.

So now, on behalf of the United States Congress, we can officially honor the more than 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who served our country during World War II. These loyal and courageous soldiers served, suffered, and sacrificed—many paying that ultimate price—alongside their American counterparts throughout the war.

Though less than 18,000 of our Filipino WWII veterans are still alive today, some of whom are among us, this recognition is an important testament to each and every one of our veterans who earned and deserve their place amongst our greatest generation.

Today, as we commemorate the Day of Valor, we honor all of our courageous warriors, as well as their families who have made tremendous sacrifices, and we give thanks for the great and lasting partnerships that were paved—truly—by these heroes.

Annually, as we gather to honor this important Day of Valor, we recognize that it helps current and future generations to understand a little better the hardships and the values for which the ultimate sacrifice is made. And it inspires us to live our lives in a way that honors the values that they sacrificed for.

Here in Hawaii, we are a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities, and faiths, bound by a common thread of the aloha spirit.  The principles that guide us as we live aloha teach us to sincerely respect one another and come together with care, compassion, and love. So, let us remember these remarkable individuals and the driving forces of freedom, righteousness, and the desire for lasting peace that sustained their fighting souls. Thank you very much. Aloha.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honors Life of Maui’s Trucker Dukes on House Floor

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) spoke on the House floor today in memory of 3-year-old Trucker Dukes from Maui, who lost his life on Friday, March 3 after battling childhood cancer.

Trucker’s spirit of resilience and open heart became an inspiration for people across the country after he was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a stage-four adrenal cancer, at 19 months old. A celebration of life honoring Trucker will be held tomorrow morning, March 10, in Kīhei.

“Today, let us honor and recognize a young Maui boy whose life touched hearts around the world and whose legacy will live on through the millions that he inspired.

“Trucker Dukes was not quite four years old when he took his last breath this past Friday, after a painful battle with Stage-4 Neuroblastoma and two years of intense treatment.

“Trucker’s dad is a firefighter and—like father, like son—Trucker loved firetrucks. When Trucker went to New York for treatment, the New York Fire Department coordinated a very special 3rd birthday party celebration, and swore him in as an honorary firefighter.

“After Trucker passed away, his parents Shauna and Joshua shared this message: “If there’s one thing, I hope it is that you love a little harder, a little better. Go home, stop the craziness in your life and just kiss your loved ones more, tell them you love them more. None of us are promised tomorrow.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Welcomes Tima Kurdi as Her Guest to President’s Joint Address to Congress

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) will be welcoming Tima Kurdi, co-founder of the Kurdi Foundation and advocate for refugees worldwide, as her guest to tonight’s Presidential Joint Address to Congress. Kurdi’s sister-in-law Rehanna and two nephews, Alan and Ghalib, drowned en route to Greece on their way to seek refuge from the Syrian war in 2015.

Tima Kurdi

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “In the face of unimaginable heartbreak, Tima has been a voice for the voiceless, a champion for refugees worldwide, and a strong advocate for ending the regime change war in Syria. I am honored to welcome her to Washington tonight as we raise our voices to call on our nation’s leaders to end the counterproductive regime change war in Syria that has caused great human suffering, refugees, loss of life, and devastation. We urge leaders in Congress to pass the Stop Arming Terrorists Act and end our destructive policy of using American taxpayer dollars to provide direct and indirect support to armed militants allied with terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria, who are fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.”

Tima Kurdi said, “I am proud to stand with Tulsi and support her work to end regime change war in Syria. My people have suffered for more than six years—enough is enough. Tulsi understands that arming the so-called “rebels” in Syria has only led to more bloodshed, more suffering, and created more refugees. A military solution in Syria is not the answer. I hope that President Trump will stop arming terrorists and commit to a political solution in Syria—it is the only way to restore peace.”

Click here to read Tima Kurdi’s op-ed: My country was destroyed on why she opposes regime change in Syria.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Recognized for Pro-Environment Voting Record

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard received a 100% score from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) for her pro-environment voting record:

“In Hawaiʻi, we know that protecting our ʻāina and caring for our home is more than just a policy discussion, it’s a basic necessity and responsibility. I will continue working to advance Hawaiʻi’s renewable energy initiatives, protect our coral reefs, keep our water, air and oceans clean, fight against invasive species, and support sustainable growth throughout our state and country. We cannot afford to play politics with our environment—it’s too important for our economy, our security, our health, and the future of our planet,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard represents the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations who select the key votes on which members of Congress should be scored. LCV scores votes on the most important issues of the year, including energy, global warming, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. The Scorecard is the nationally accepted yardstick used to rate members of Congress on environmental, public health, and energy issues.

Tulsi Gabbard Visits Hawaii Island Kūpuna and Native Hawaiian Veterans

This morning at the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program recognition luncheon in Kona, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) visited with some of the 1,129 kūpuna who serve Hawaiʻi Island communities through the county’s Elderly Activities Division. She spent time visiting with seniors, delivered remarks thanking them for their service, and answered questions about her work in Congress. Last year, kūpuna volunteers on Hawaiʻi Island gave 97,815 hours in service at more than 140 different public and private non-profit agencies.

Photos via: Ilihia Gionson.

In Waimea today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard met with Native Hawaiian leaders who are focusing on farming, food security, and sustainability for the homestead land they live on. The Waimea Nui Community Development Initiative is a sustainability project on 61 acres of Hawaiian Homestead land that includes a community ag park with farm lots for small farmers and a post-harvest facility. Soon, small farmers will be able to participate in a community equipment program and training through the College of Tropical Agriculture and the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.

The congresswoman also met with several constituents, including a group organized by Father John Schroedel that has been actively supporting the Orthodox Diocese of Aleppo.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Hosts Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, Visits Inmates

This morning at the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility in Olomana (Windward Oʻahu), Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted a Criminal Justice Reform Roundtable, bringing together advocates, experts, educators, health professionals, and leaders from Hawaii’s state, county, judiciary, corrections, and non-profit sectors.

They discussed the current state of Hawaii’s juvenile justice system, and how they’re working toward innovative solutions to help empower our youth, reduce recidivism, and provide service and support to our keiki, their families, and our community at-large.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard toured the Hawaiʻi Youth Correctional Facility (HYCF) and the Women’s Community Correctional Center, where she learned about the programs being offered and spent time with inmates. The young men at HYCF shared their hopes and plans for their futures, and the women talked about the importance of vocational training and work opportunities that will help them to succeed and support their families when their time is served and they return home.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is working with lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to address the many problems that plague our criminal justice system. She has long advocated for common sense criminal justice reform legislation like the bipartisan SAFE Justice Act, the Sentencing Reform Act, the Smarter Sentencing Act, Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act, as well as long overdue reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act. She has been a vocal advocate supporting state programs like Drug Courts, Veteran Courts, the Hawaiʻi Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE), and the State Juvenile Justice Hoʻopono Mamo Civil Citation Initiative.

Gabbard-Backed Bill to Expedite Veterans Claims Process Passes House

Legislation cosponsored by Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to streamline the veterans claims process unanimously passed the House today. The bipartisan WINGMAN Act (H.R.512), which would allow congressional offices to directly access information on behalf of a constituent without having to go through a middle-man at the VA bureaucracy, now moves to the U.S. Senate for consideration.

In a speech on the House floor, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said:

“One of the things I appreciate most about the job that I have to represent Hawaiʻi’s Second District is to be able to respond to and provide assistance to the hundreds of veterans from across my state that contact our office every single year. They call to ask for help with things like compensation and pension issues, healthcare, mileage reimbursement—especially for our veterans who live on the neighboring islands where they don’t have a VA clinic on island—education, home loan benefits, and more. This is a responsibility as a Member of Congress and as a fellow veteran that I take very seriously.

“Right now, if a veteran contacts my office for assistance, we are required to go directly through the Congressional Liaison at the VA. We act as veterans advocates to try to get answers for them on things that they haven’t been able to get answers on and things they haven’t heard back on.

“Too often, we’re faced with bureaucratic layers within the VA and a slow turnaround that leaves congressional staff, like mine and my colleagues’, jumping through hoops to access basic but critical information on behalf of our veterans and their families. At times, we have waited for months to get answers from the VA on behalf of a Hawaiʻi veteran for something that should be a quick turnaround, like a status update.

“This is unacceptable, and it’s why I’m proud to cosponsor the WINGMAN Act, legislation introduced by my friend and colleague Ted Yoho of Florida, which allows us to cut through the red tape and ensure that our certified caseworkers within our offices can provide quicker, more efficient and effective service to our veterans. It would help streamline the veterans claims process by allowing congressional offices, on behalf of our veteran constituents, to directly access the status of pending claims, rating decisions, statement of the case, and more.

“I urge my colleagues to support this common sense legislation, so that all of us working here in the people’s house can better serve our veterans who have sacrificed so much for our communities and our country.”

Background: The WINGMAN Act would streamline the veterans claims process between congressional offices and their constituents by eliminating the requirement to use the VA as a middle-man. Under WINGMAN, certified constituent advocates would be able to directly access the status of pending claims, medical records, rating decisions, statement of the case, supplementary statement of the case, notice of disagreement, and Form-9 files within a reasonable amount of time, without having to go through a middle-man at the VA.

Each year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office helps hundreds of veterans get assistance from the VA and other federal agencies. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “office hours” to help constituents, including veterans, with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Address U.S. Nursing Shortage

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02), a co-chair of the House Nursing Caucus, joined fellow lawmakers in introducing the bipartisan Title VIII Nursing Workforce Reauthorization Act (H.R.959). The bipartisan legislation would reauthorize federal funding for nursing workforce and education programs to help grow and support the nursing workforce in the United States.

“Nurses are the heart of our healthcare system, and one of the fastest growing professions in the United States. As Hawaiʻi and states across the country face serious nursing shortages, it’s critical we support Title VIII nursing programs that help recruit, train and retain our nurses, especially in our rural and underserved communities,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “This bill will help ensure that Hawaiʻi’s nurses and future nurses get the support they need to continue to serve our communities across the state.”

“In Hawaiʻi, nurses are the largest licensed healthcare profession and work in all healthcare settings, from hospitals to home health to school nursing, and work in all areas of the state. As the healthcare needs of the state grow, including the increased demand for primary care, extended care, long term care, and geriatric nursing, nurses can serve to meet these changing demands. Educational pathways, tuition support and loan repayment programs for nurses and nurse faculty, and recruitment and retention programs are critical to ensuring that our nursing workforce in Hawaiʻi is adequate and nimble to the needs of our changing healthcare environment,” said Laura Reichhardt, Director of the Hawaiʻi State Center for Nursing.

Background: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of Registered Nurses (RNs) is projected to grow 19 percent from 2012 to 2022. At the same time, the Bureau predicts there will be over 1 million job openings for RNs in 2022 due to the increasing demand for nurses.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has consistently prioritized Title VIII nursing workforce programs in annual appropriations bills. Administered through the Health Resources and Services Administration, Title VIII programs have supported the recruitment, retention, and distribution of highly-educated professionals who comprise our nation’s nursing workforce for more than 50 years. Title VIII programs bolster nursing education at all levels, from entry level preparation through graduate study, and provide support for institutions that educate nurses for practice in rural and medically underserved communities. These programs are designed to address specific needs within the nursing workforce and America’s patient population, and are, therefore, a direct investment in the nation’s health.

The legislation is endorsed by the American Nurses Association, the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing, and more than 50 other national nursing organizations.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bill to Expedite Veterans Claims Process

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced support today for the bipartisan WINGMAN Act (H.R.512), legislation that would streamline the veterans claims process between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and congressional offices that process claims on behalf of veterans and their families.

Tulsi Gabbard at Hawaii County Civil Defense

“It’s my honor to serve the hundreds of Hawaiʻi veterans that contact my office each year for help. However, slow turnaround and thick layers of bureaucracy at the VA too often leave certified congressional staff jumping through tedious hoops to access critical information on behalf of veterans and their families. At times, we have waited for months to get a simple answer from the VA on behalf of a Hawaiʻi veteran. This is unacceptable. The WINGMAN Act would cut through the red tape and allow congressional offices to provide quicker, more efficient service to our veterans,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

Background: The WINGMAN Act would streamline the veterans claims process between congressional offices and their constituents by eliminating the requirement to use the VA as a middle-man. Under WINGMAN, certified constituent advocates would be able to directly access the status of pending claims, medical records, rating decisions, statement of the case, supplementary statement of the case, notice of disagreement, and Form-9 files within a reasonable amount of time, without having to go through a middle-man at the VA.

Each year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s office helps hundreds of veterans get assistance from the VA and other federal agencies. Constituent advocates are located in every county, and hold regular “office hours” to help constituents, including veterans, with federal agency casework. For a list of upcoming office hours, click here. For information on how the congresswoman and staff can assist constituents, click here.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Lawmakers Call For Reinstatement of Glass-Steagall

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) joined 26 Members of Congress in introducing the Return to Prudent Banking Act today. The bipartisan legislation, endorsed by Public Citizen and the AFL-CIO, would reinstate important consumer protections put in place after the Great Depression and require separation between commercial and investment banking.

(Left to right) Reps. Walter B. Jones, Tim Ryan, Tulsi Gabbard, and Marcy Kaptur call for a reinstatement of Glass-Steagall.

“From the Great Depression through the turn of the 21st Century, Glass-Steagall helped keep our economy safe. Repealing it allowed too-big-to-fail banks to gamble with the savings and livelihoods of the American people, with devastating, irrevocable consequences. Hawaiʻi, along with communities across the country, paid the price in 2008 with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the banks that were “too big to fail” in 2008 are even bigger and more powerful now. We must reinstate Glass-Steagall and create a financial system that works for every American—not just Wall Street banks,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02)

“The 2008 crash nearly took down our entire economy and led to the great recession which wiped out average Americans’ income. But now, Democrats and Republicans have memorialized support for Glass-Steagall in their respective political platforms. Even President Trump has declared his support for a new Glass-Steagall law,” said Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (OH-09). “That is why we are here, to build on the momentum and the movement to reinstate Glass-Stegall.”

“Wall Street banks should not be allowed to use taxpayer-insured consumer deposits to gamble in the markets and then get taxpayer bailouts for failed decisions,” said Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-03). “It’s time to put American taxpayers and depositors first.  It’s time to pass the Return to Prudent Banking Act and reinstate Glass-Steagall.”

“I am proud to cosponsor the Return to Prudent Banking Act, which revives the separation between commercial banking and securities companies as written in the Glass-Steagall Act. These are smart financial reforms designed to protect our economy from another financial crisis and hardworking American taxpayers from another Wall Street collapse. We know that the climate of deregulation led to the financial crisis. We can’t let that happen again,” said Congressman Tim Ryan (OH-13).

Background: In 1933, the Banking Act—also known as the Glass-Steagall Act—passed amid an atmosphere of chaos and uncertainty to address banking failures of the Great Depression. The goal of its lead cosponsors, Rep. Henry Steagall and Sen. Carter Glass, was to separate commercial and investment banking and restore confidence in the American banking system.

In 1999, Congress repealed the Glass-Steagall Act and removed the barriers between investment banking and traditional depository banks. This action gave financial institutions and investment firms access to the deposits of the American consumer, which then were used to gamble on the Wall Street casino. This misguided deregulation allowed the creation of giant financial supermarkets—that could own investment banks, commercial banks, and insurance firms—and created companies too big and intertwined to fail. This lack of regulation also allowed Wall Street to leverage their debt past sustainable ratios using consumer mutual funds and the pension accounts of American workers as collateral.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces She Will Personally Reimburse Cost of Trip to Syria

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) announced today she will personally reimburse the cost of her trip to Syria.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has stated that she will personally cover the costs of her Syria trip.

Though the trip has met every requirement of the House Ethics Committee, the congresswoman has decided to reimburse AACCESS-Ohio for the trip because it has become a distraction from the important issue at hand—do the American people want their taxpayer dollars to continue to be used in support of militant groups working hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and ISIS in the effort to overthrow the Syrian government? Contrary to baseless claims in the media, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is beholden to no one in the region, her views on the situation are her own, and her determination to seek peace is beyond question.

Background: As a member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard traveled to Aleppo, Damascus, and Beirut from January 14-22, 2017 to see and hear firsthand the impact of the war in Syria directly from the Syrian people. For more information on the trip, click here. Earlier this year, the congresswoman 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.

Veterans For Peace Endorses Gabbard’s Stop Arming Terrorist Act

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement today after Veterans For Peace announced endorsement for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608):

Tulsi Gabbard in Puna after Tropical Storm Iselle

“Those who have seen and experienced war firsthand share a unique appreciation for the need for peace. From Iraq to Libya and now in Syria, the U.S. has and continues to wage wars of regime change, each resulting in unimaginable suffering, devastating loss of life, and the strengthening of terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS. I am grateful to have the support of Veterans for Peace for the Stop Arming Terrorists Act, and for their work to prevent the United States from continuing to pursue counterproductive, interventionist wars,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard.

“As veterans we took an oath to preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States. The threat to the Constitution comes not from Russia, China or ISIL but from within the walls of Washington D.C. where the Congress and the Executive branch have enmeshed the country in ongoing unnecessary, illegal and unconstitutional wars. As Veterans For Peace we seek to restrain our government from intervening, overtly or covertly, in the internal affairs of other nations,” said Barry Ladendorf, President of Veterans For Peace. “Certainly, the U.S. government should not be supporting regime change wars nor directly or indirectly supporting known terrorist organizations, proxy groups and their allies to violently overthrow established governments. We also thank Rep. Gabbard, a veteran of the Iraq War, for introducing this important bill, Stop Arming Terrorist, which Veterans For Peace proudly supports and for her recent important fact finding trip to Syria,” continued Ladendorf, who served as a naval officer during the Vietnam War.

Background: Veterans For Peace is a global organization of Military Veterans and allies whose collective efforts are to build a culture of peace by using their experiences and lifting their voices. The network is comprised of over 140 chapters worldwide whose work includes: educating the public, advocating for a dismantling of the war economy, providing services that assist veterans and victims of war, and most significantly, working to end all wars.

The bipartisan Stop Arming Terrorists Act (H.R.608) is cosponsored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-VT), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Walter B. Jones (R-NC), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Ted Yoho (R-FLY), and Garrett Thomas (R-VA), and endorsed by Progressive Democrats of America, the U.S. Peace Council, and Veterans For Peace.

The legislation would prohibit U.S. government funds from being used to directly or indirectly support terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS or those working with them. 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 from using U.S. funds to directly or indirectly support al-Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, ISIS, or other 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 or groups working with 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.

Gabbard-Cook Reintroduce Bill Encouraging Employers to Hire More Veterans

Today, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Paul Cook (CA-08) introduced the HIRE Vets Act of 2017. This bipartisan bill, which was previously introduced last Congress, passed the House with unanimous support in November 2016, but did not pass the Senate before the end of the year.

The legislation would promote private sector recruiting, hiring, and retaining of men and women who served honorably in the U.S. military through a voluntary and effective program. Specifically, it would create an award program recognizing the meaningful, verifiable efforts undertaken by employers – both large and small – to hire and retain veterans. Cook and Gabbard designed the program to be self-funded.

Through the U.S. Department of Labor, the HIRE Vets Act would allow businesses to display “HIRE Vets Medallions” on products and marketing materials. These medallions would be awarded as part of a four-tiered system – Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum – associated with specific hiring and retention goals each year.

The program also establishes similar tiered awards for small and mid-sized businesses with less than 500 employees. To ensure proper oversight, the Secretary of Labor would be required to provide Congress with annual reports on the success of the program with regard to veteran employment and retention results.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every single day, joining the more than 2.9 million veterans that have returned home since 9/11. While we’ve taken some important steps to encourage employers to hire more veterans, more than 400,000 veterans across the country are still unemployed today. Through their service, veterans develop unique skills, experiences, and leadership training that make them especially valuable to employers. The HIRE Vets Act incentivizes employers to hire veterans, and recognizes employers that provide a supportive work environment to retain veteran employees. I encourage our colleagues to join us in passing this bill unanimously again to move this support for our veterans and employers forward.”

Rep. Paul Cook said, “The HIRE Vets Act is an opportunity for Americans to see which companies truly live up to the employment promises they make to veterans. Veterans who serve this country honorably shouldn’t struggle to find employment, and this bill creates an innovative system to encourage and recognize employers who make veterans a priority in their hiring practices.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is a twice-deployed combat veteran and member of the House Armed Services and Foreign Affairs Committees. She continues to serve as a Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

A member of the House Natural Resources, Armed Services, and Foreign Affairs Committees, Cook served as an infantry officer and retired after 26 years as a Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his time in combat, he was awarded the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts.

Hawaii to Receive $3.1 Million to Fight Invasive Species

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard announced today that Hawaiʻi will receive $3.1 million to fight invasive species like the coconut rhinoceros beetle, coffee berry borer, Rapid Ohia Death, and fruit flies. The funding, allocated from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) in accordance with Section 10007 of the 2014 Farm Bill, is part of 513 projects supported nationwide that aim to prevent the introduction or spread of plant pests and diseases that threaten U.S. agriculture and the environment, as well as ensure the availability of a healthy supply of clean plant stock.

In Hawaiʻi, invasive species like the coffee berry borer, fruit fly, and macadamia felted coccid have cost our farmers millions, and put hundreds of farms, thousands of local workers, and our agriculture industry at great risk,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “We need to provide more support to our farmers who contribute so much to our community and our economy.  This funding will provide Hawaiʻi with critical resources to combat these invasive pests.”

“The University of Hawaiʻi is very pleased to hear that a new project has been funded through USDA-APHIS on the management of the coffee berry borer in Hawaiʻi and Puerto Rico,” said Ray Carruthers, Specialist at the University of Hawaiʻi College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “The main thrust of this effect will be to coordinate control efforts with on-going Federal, State and local projects on CBB management, along with the additional development of new insect biological control technologies. We feel that developing, testing and the eventual use of insect parasitoids will be a key for long-term sustainable management of the CBB in both Hawaiʻi and Puerto Rico.”

Background: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard introduced the Areawide Integrated Pest Management (AIPM) Act (H.R.3893) and the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative (H.R.6249) in the 114th Congress to fight invasive species in Hawaiʻi and across the United States, and to fund critical research for invasive species like the macadamia felted coccid. In August, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard conducted an agriculture tour on Hawaiʻi Island where she met with local agriculture professionals and researchers about invasive species in Hawaiʻi.

Today’s announcement includes the following funding for projects in Hawaiʻi:

  • $87,771 for emerging diseases, viral spillover, and the risk to agricultural pollinators (Academia)
  • $265,811 for the USDA Compendium of Fruit Fly Host Information (CoFFHI) (Academia)
  • $27,600 for the National Survey of Honey Bee Pests and Diseases in Hawaiʻi (State Government)
  • $148,000 for the Palm Commodity Survey (Academia)
  • $165,500 for Hawaiʻi Pre-Clearance X-ray Support (APHIS)
  • $260,000 for Genomic approaches to fruit fly exclusion and pathway analysis (year 3) (Academia)
  • $303,000 for Genomic approaches to fruit fly exclusion and pathway analysis (year 3) (Non-APHIS-Federal)
  • $42,090 for Little Fire Ant Education for Nursery Supply Stores (Academia)
  • $40,995 for Integrated and Sustainable Approach to Manage New Invasive Pests of Ficus Trees in Hawaiʻi’s Urban Landscapes – Year 2 (Academia)
  • $41,000 for Activators and Attractants for Giant African Snail (Academia)
  • $120,000 for Response to Rapid Ohia Death, a disease threatening forests (State Government)
  • $125,000 for Systems approach for the management of coffee berry borer in Hawaiʻi and Puerto Rico with emphasis on biological control (Academia)
  • $100,000 for Systems approach for the management of coffee berry borer in Hawaiʻi and Puerto Rico with emphasis on biological control (State Government)
  • $115,000 for Systems approach for the management of coffee berry borer in Hawaiʻi and Puerto Rico with emphasis on biological control (Non-APHIS-Federal)
  • $975,000 for Response to Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle in Hawaiʻi (Academia)
  • $250,000 for Response to Coconut Rhinoceros Beetle in Hawaiʻi (State Government)

VIDEO – Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Honors 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor

In a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard honored the 75th Anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor:

“My heart is in Hawaiʻi today. At almost this exact time, on this very day 75 years ago, the first bombs were dropped in the attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 people perished on that fateful day that will forever live in infamy.

“We remember our brothers and sisters who paid the ultimate price, and those who answered the call to serve in the months and years that followed, including our two former Senators Inouye and Akaka, and the more than 320,000 who gave their lives in that war.

“We remember the Japanese Americans whose lives forever changed when after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they were thrown into internment camps. And the brave Nisei, who in spite of these atrocities, volunteered to serve, forming the Nisei-only “Go For Broke” 442nd Infantry Regiment, serving courageously, and sacrificing greatly.

“May we never forget what happened at Pearl Harbor, the lessons learned, and the sacrifices of all who served.”

Background: Last month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard reintroduced a House resolution originally authored by Congressman Takai that commemorates the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, and honoring the more than 320,000 men and women who gave their lives in defense of the United States during World War II.

VIDEO: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Urges President to Immediately Halt Dakota Access Pipeline

In a speech on the House floor Thursday, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard called on President Obama to immediately halt construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline and announced plans to join thousands of veterans from across the country to stand in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux in North Dakota this weekend.

tulsi-dakota“Growing up in Hawaii, I learned the value of caring for our home, caring for our planet, and the basic principle that we are all connected in a great chain of cause and effect.

“The Dakota Access Pipeline is a threat to this great balance of life. Despite strong opposition from the Standing Rock Sioux and serious concerns raised by the EPA, the Department of Interior, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and other Federal agencies, the Army Corps of Engineers approved permits to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline without adequately consulting the tribes, and without fully evaluating the potential impacts to neighboring tribal lands, sacred sites, and their water supply. Just one spill near the tribe’s reservation could release thousands of barrels of crude oil, contaminating the tribe’s drinking water.

“The impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline is clear. Energy Transfer Partners, the company constructing the Dakota Pipeline, has a history of serious pipeline explosions, which have caused injury, death, and significant property damage in the past decade. The future operator of the planned pipeline, Sunoco Logistics, has had over 200 environmentally damaging oil spills in the last 6 years alone—more than any of its competitors.

“Protecting our water is not a partisan political issue—it is an issue that is important to all people and all living beings everywhere. Water is life. We cannot survive without it. Once we allow an aquifer to be polluted, there is very little that can be done about it. This is why it is essential that we prevent water resources from being polluted in the first place.

“Our Founding Fathers took great inspiration from Native American forms of governance, and the democratic principles that they were founded on. Their unique form of governance was built on an agreement called the Great Law of Peace, which states that before beginning their deliberations, the council shall be obliged, and I quote, “to express their gratitude to their cousins and greet them, and they shall make an address and offer thanks to the earth where men dwell, to the streams of water, the pools, the springs and the lakes, to the maize and the fruits, to the medicinal herbs and trees, to the forest trees for their usefulness, and to the Great Creator who dwells in the heavens above, who gives all the things useful to men, and who is the source and the ruler of health and life.”

“This recognition of our debt to the Creator and our responsibility to be responsible members of this great web of life was there from the beginning of Western democracy.

“Freedom is not a buzzword. The freedom of our Founding Fathers was not the freedom to bulldoze wherever you like.

“Our freedom is a freedom of mind, a freedom of heart, freedom to worship as we see fit, freedom from tyranny and freedom from terror. That’s the freedom this country was founded on, the freedom cultivated by America’s Native people, and the freedom the Standing Rock Sioux are now exercising.

“This weekend I’m joining thousands of veterans from across the country at Standing Rock to stand in solidarity with our Native American brothers and sisters. Together we call on President Obama to immediately halt the construction of this pipeline, respect the sacred lands of the Standing Rock Sioux, and respect their right to clean water. The truth is, whether it’s the threat to essential water sources in this region, the lead contaminated water in Flint, Michigan, or the threat posed to a major Hawaiʻi aquifer by the Red Hill fuel leak, each example underscores the vital importance of protecting our water resources.

“We can’t undo history, but we must learn lessons from the past and carry them forward—to encourage cooperation among free people, to protect the sacred, to care for the Earth and for our children, and our children’s children. What’s at stake is our shared heritage of freedom and democracy and our shared future on this Great Turtle Island, our great United States of America.”

Background: In September, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and 18 House Democrats wrote to President Barack Obama calling on the United States Army Corps of Engineers to fulfill their responsibility of holding meaningful consultation and collaboration with the Standing Rock Sioux over the route of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Full text of the letter is available here.

Congresswoman Gabbard Op-Ed: Giving Voice to Millions of Americans – End U.S. Wars of Intervention

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s op-ed on ending U.S. wars of intervention published in The Nation today:
tulsi-bannerI recently met with President-elect Donald Trump to give voice to the millions of Americans, including my fellow veterans, who desperately want to end our country’s illegal, counterproductive war to overthrow the Syrian government. We had an hour-long, meaningful, back-and-forth discussion about the problems with current U.S. policy in Syria and where to go from here.

I felt it critical to meet with him now, before warmongering neocons convince him to escalate this war that has already taken more than 400,000 lives and left millions of Syrians homeless and in search of safety for themselves and their families.

I conveyed to the President-elect how the post-9/11 neocon agenda of interventionism and regime-change has left U.S. foreign policy absurdly disconnected from our actual security interests. Our actions to overthrow secular dictators in Iraq and Libya, and attempts now to do the same in Syria, have resulted in tremendous loss of life, failed nations, and even worse humanitarian crises while strengthening the very terrorist organizations that have declared war on America.

Since 2011, the United States—working with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey—has been providing support to “rebel groups” fighting to overthrow the government and take over Syria. A recent New York Times article reported that these “rebel groups” supported by the U.S. “have entered into battlefield alliances with the affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, formerly known as al-Nusra.”  How the United States can work hand-in-hand with the very terrorist organization that is responsible for the killing of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 boggles my mind and curdles my blood.

This absurd alliance has allowed terrorist groups like al-Qaeda to establish strongholds throughout Syria, including in Aleppo, where they are now using the civilian population as human shields and their deaths as propaganda tools.

Additionally, escalating this regime-change war by implementing a “no fly/safe zone” in Syria would not only be ineffective, it would put the U.S. in direct military confrontation with nuclear-power Russia, require tens of thousands of ground troops and a massive U.S. air presence, and commit us to yet another endless war in the Middle East that does not serve American or Syrian interests.

In short, even if the U.S.-Saudi alliance were successful in overthrowing the Syrian government, we would be saddled with the responsibility of building a new nation in Syria. Trillions of U.S. taxpayer dollars, and who knows how many American lives, will be lost, and there will be little to show for it. As was true in Iraq and Libya, the U.S. has no credible government or leader able to bring order, security, and freedom to the people of Syria if Assad is overthrown. To maintain order after Assad’s fall would require at least 500,000 troops in a never-ending occupation.

The most likely outcome of this regime-change war is that it will open the door for ISIS, al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups who are the most powerful fighting forces on the ground, to take over all of Syria, amass powerful weapons (many of which will have been provided to them by the U.S.), and pose a far worse threat to the Syrian people, religious minorities, and to the world.

The crux of my advice to President-elect Trump was this: we must end this ill-conceived, counterproductive regime-change war immediately. We must focus our precious resources on investing in and rebuilding our own country and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups that pose a threat to the American people.

Tulsi Gabbard

Gabbard-Stewart Bill to Expand Veterans’ Healthcare Passes House

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard released the statement below after the House unanimously passed the Veterans TRICARE Choice Act (H.R.5458). The congresswoman introduced the legislation with Rep. Chris Stewart (UT-02) in 2015. The bill expands veterans’ healthcare options by allowing veterans to temporarily pause their TRICARE benefits to participate in an employer’s Health Savings Account (HSA) program if they so choose. Under current federal law, it is illegal for a TRICARE-eligible veteran to participate in an HSA program.

gabbard-health-bill“As a soldier and a veteran, I have seen firsthand the tremendous sacrifice our veterans and their families make in service to our country. That service should never limit their access to quality healthcare, and the ability to make decisions about their own health,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “The Veterans TRICARE Choice Act gives our veterans the ability to choose the best healthcare options for themselves and their families.”

“Our veterans deserve our most profound gratitude,” said Rep. Chris Stewart. “Nothing about their military service should prevent them from accessing the same benefits as their non-veteran co-workers. The very least we can do is ensure they receive the benefits we’ve promised them, and that the process goes as smoothly as possible.  We still have a lot of work to do on that front, but the passage of this bill is a great step in the right direction.”

Background: Health Savings Accounts have proven to be an effective way to pay for medical costs and proactively save for future medical expenses. Employees invest and save tax-free money in HSAs, which are then used to pay for qualified medical expenses. These have become increasingly popular healthcare plans in the private sector.

Under current federal law, it is illegal for a TRICARE-eligible veterans to participate in an HSA program. The Veterans TRICARE Choice Act simply gives veterans the choice to voluntarily pause their TRICARE benefits in order to participate in an HSA program.

The Veterans TRICARE Choice Act is supported by the Association of the United States Navy (AUSN) and the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS).