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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).

Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Don Young Introduce Bipartisan Resolution on #GivingTuesday

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Don Young (AK-AL) introduced a bipartisan resolution today recognizing #GivingTuesday, a global day of charitable giving and volunteerism. #GivingTuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, begins the holiday season in the spirit of service, following widely-recognized shopping events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The resolution recognizes that philanthropy and charitable giving transcend party divides and unite people across boundaries.

“Too often, we focus on the issues that divide us, rather than those that unite us. #GivingTuesday highlights the principles of service, volunteerism, giving back to our communities, and helping those in need,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Every single day, each of us can choose to be of service, whether it’s helping a friend or family member, caring for our community and our planet, having a positive impact on those around us, or giving our time to a cause we care about. #GivingTuesday recognizes our opportunity to put service before self and to be a force for positive change in the world.”

“As we kick off the holiday season, it’s extremely important to recognize the hard work and dedication of our many service organizations and non-profits,” said Congressman Don Young. “Because of your tremendous support and generous donations, these organizations are able to assist countless families and communities across the nation. Alaskans are often recognized for our hospitality and goodwill, and I encourage everyone back home to take part in this special day and share what you can with your local charity or non-profit.”

Click to read the full resolution

Click to read the full resolution

Background: #GivingTuesday was launched by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in 2012, and has since become a worldwide movement, harnessing the power of social media and the generosity of people around the world to bring about real change. In its first year, #GivingTuesday brought together more than 2,500 organizations in all 50 States, and it has continued to gain momentum every year since, with more than 35,000 partners in the United States and around the world.

Hawaii Congresswoman Gabbard Meets With President-Elect Trump

U.S. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard today released the following statement on her meeting with President-elect Donald Trump regarding Syria:

hayden-and-tulsi-kneeling“President-elect Trump asked me to meet with him about our current policies regarding Syria, our fight against terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIS, as well as other foreign policy challenges we face. I felt it important to take the opportunity to meet with the President-elect now before the drumbeats of war that neocons have been beating drag us into an escalation of the war to overthrow the Syrian government—a war which has already cost hundreds of thousands of lives and forced millions of refugees to flee their homes in search of safety for themselves and their families.

“While the rules of political expediency would say I should have refused to meet with President-elect Trump, I never have and never will play politics with American and Syrian lives.

“Serving the people of Hawaiʻi and our nation is an honor and responsibility that I do not take lightly.  Representing the aloha spirit and diversity of the people of Hawaiʻi, I will continue to seek common ground to deliver results that best serve all Americans, as I have tried to do during my time in Congress.

“Where I disagree with President-elect Trump on issues, I will not hesitate to express that disagreement.  However, I believe we can disagree, even strongly, but still come together on issues that matter to the American people and affect their daily lives. We cannot allow continued divisiveness to destroy our country.

“President-elect Trump and I had a frank and positive conversation in which we discussed a variety of foreign policy issues in depth. I shared with him my grave concerns that escalating the war in Syria by implementing a so-called no fly/safe zone would be disastrous for the Syrian people, our country, and the world. It would lead to more death and suffering, exacerbate the refugee crisis, strengthen ISIS and al-Qaeda, and bring us into a direct conflict with Russia which could result in a nuclear war. We discussed my bill to end our country’s illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government, and the need to focus our precious resources on rebuilding our own country, and on defeating al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other terrorist groups who pose a threat to the American people.

“For years, the issue of ending interventionist, regime change warfare has been one of my top priorities. This was the major reason I ran for Congress—I saw firsthand the cost of war, and the lives lost due to the interventionist warmongering policies our country has pursued for far too long.

“Let me be clear, I will never allow partisanship to undermine our national security when the lives of countless people lay in the balance.”

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on Passing of Rep. Clift Tsuji

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement today after the passing of Hawaiʻi State House Representative Clift Tsuji:

 “Today, Hawaiʻi lost a dedicated public servant. Born and raised in Papaikou, Representative Clift Tsuji served the people of Hawaiʻi Island throughout his life. After graduating from Hilo High School, Rep. Tsuji served as a U.S. Army Reservist with the 442nd Infantry out of Hilo, and continued to serve Hawaiʻi Island in various community organizations, as a successful businessman, and as a representative for the people of Keaukaha, Panaewa, Waiakea, and parts of Hilo. As chair of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Tsuji helped champion legislation to fight invasive species and strengthen our biosecurity.  I saw Rep. Tsuji recently at the Hilo Veterans Parade and, as usual, he was full of aloha, as he welcomed me to the community he loved so much. Today, my heart is with Rep. Tsuji’s family, friends, and all whose lives he touched.

tulsi-straw-hat

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Encourages Opportunities for Veterans in Technology

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Future Caucus and of the Diversifying Tech Caucus, delivered opening remarks at the congressional briefing Veteran Readiness in Technology: Preparing Veterans for the 21st Century Economy, hosted by the Millennial Action Project, Engine, TwinLogic Strategies, and Amazon.

tulsi-technology1The congresswoman spoke about how veterans are largely underrepresented in the rapidly growing technology industry, and about the importance of empowering veterans as they transition to civilian life. Following opening remarks, expert panelists discussed the current challenges transitioning service members and veterans face during their path towards a career in technology, and opportunities for veterans and service members in the 21st century tech economy.

tulsi-technology2“Roughly 500 veterans return to civilian life every day, bringing with them unique experiences and skills from their military service. Our veterans are natural leaders, trained to make decisions under pressure, work together as a team, and accomplish the mission at hand,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Veterans have been largely underrepresented in the tech community, making up just 2% the sector that drives much of our economic innovation across the country. Ensuring our veterans have access to training and opportunities that set them up for success in the 21st century tech economy is good for our economy, good for our tech industry, good for our country, and good for our veterans.”

Background: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has introduced legislation like the Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act, to enable veterans to use their GI Bill benefits for apprenticeship programs in the skilled-trade industry, as well as the HIRE Vets Act to incentivize employers to hire and retain veterans.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Announces Critical Milestone Crossed For Congressional Gold Medal Bill to Honor WWII Filipino Veterans

This afternoon, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard  hosted a roundtable of leaders from Hawaii’s Filipino community to update them on the legislation she introduced to award the Congressional Gold Medal to Filipino Veterans of World War II (H.R.2737). The bill recently crossed a critical milestone and, after decades of attempted recognition for Filipino World War II veterans, is closer to passage than ever before.

gabbard-filipino-round-table“Congressional Gold Medal bills require two thirds of the House, or at least 290 members, to sign on to the bill before it can move forward.  I’m happy to report to you today that we’ve exceeded this with 309 co-sponsors, with colleagues representing both parties and nearly every state and territory in our nation supporting legislation to recognize these men for their service and sacrifice,” Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard announced this afternoon to a group of leaders from Hawaii’s Filipino community.

“Despite their critical role in the Pacific, Filipino World War II veterans have never been recognized by Congress for their service. We’ve waited far too long to recognize these heroes alongside units like the Tuskeegee Airmen and Hawaii’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion with the Congressional Gold Medal. With just 18,000 Filipino World War II veterans alive today, time is of the essence for Congress to pass this legislation and honor these courageous men with the long overdue recognition they deserve.”

gabbard-filipino-round-table-2Last year, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced bipartisan legislation (H.R.2737) to award the Congressional Gold Medal to World War II Filipino veterans. The bill acknowledges over 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag against the Imperial Forces of Japan during World War II.  305 Members of Congress have signed on as co-sponsors of the congresswoman’s bill, and she is working with House leadership to schedule it for a vote. With support from Hawaii’s Filipino community and organizations across the country, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard hopes to pass the legislation before the end of the year.

At this afternoon’s roundtable with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, the group also discussed important issues regarding U.S.-Philippines relations, building greater understanding of Filipino history, culture, and contributions in the U.S., higher education, immigration and family reunification, transition programs for service members entering the civilian workforce, the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program, and more.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Recognized As Top Advocate For National Food Policy

Food Policy Action announced Rep. Tulsi Gabbard as a top advocate for improving the nation’s food system.

ep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a top advocate for a clear, transparent, uniform food labeling standard

ep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a top advocate for a clear, transparent, uniform food labeling standard

The congresswoman earned a perfect score on the recent release of the National Food Policy Scorecard for her leadership advancing good food policy in the 114th Congress.

“Fighting for sensible, transparent food policies and supporting local and domestic agriculture have been among my key priorities. This Congress, we’ve unfortunately seen numerous attempts to roll back progress on good food policy, like undermining common sense food labeling standards across the country, fast-tracking the destructive Trans-Pacific Partnership, and lifting restrictions on the use of harmful pesticides near our vital water resources,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “Food security is a critical issue for people in Hawaiʻi and across the U.S. and I will continue to work hard toward creating a more secure, safe, and healthy future for our people and our environment.”

“Tulsi Gabbard is a strong food champion who has been a steadfast advocate for measures to fix our food system, voting to protect clean water, transparency in food labeling, workers’ rights, and the long-term viability of our food supply. Her 100% score on the National Food Policy Scorecard showcases her leadership on food policy issues in Congress,” said Tom Colicchio, Food Policy Action co-founder, chef and food advocate.

Background:

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been a strong advocate for food and production safety and transparency, and was among just 18% of House members that received a perfect score on this year’s Food Policy Action Scorecard. Food Policy Action recognized Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for:

  • Fighting against the DARK Act and “fast-track” Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
  • Working to pass clear, easy-to-read food labeling standards
  • Protecting the Clean Water Act and upholding restrictions on pesticide use
  • Reauthorizing services for kūpuna under the Older Americans Reauthorization Act

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has introduced legislation to protect local agriculture and help local farmers fight back against invasive species, including the Macadamia Tree Health Initiative and the Areawide Integrated Pest Management Act. As an original cosponsor of H.R. 913, the Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act, she helped lead Congressional opposition to legislation like the DARK Act and S.764, legislation that pre-empts state and local laws that already require labeling of genetically modified foods and creates a food labeling system based solely on industry science and corporate influences. She has continued working to pass a clear, uniform national labeling standard that makes it easier for consumers to know what’s in their food.

 

Food Policy Action was established in 2012 through a collaboration of national food policy leaders in order to hold legislators accountable on votes that have an effect on food and farming. The National Food Policy Scorecard reflects the consensus of top food policy experts who select the key food policy votes each year. The scorecard considers lawmakers votes on a variety of issues relevant to food policy in the U.S., including domestic and international hunger, food safety, food access, farm subsidies, animal welfare, food and farm labor, nutrition, food additives, food transparency, local and regional food production, organic farming and the effects of food production on the environment.

Gabbard Honors Legacy and Service of Hawaii Nisei Veterans – Airport Unveils New Exhibit

At the Interisland Terminal of the Honolulu International Airport this morning, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard  joined the Nisei Veterans Legacy Center and Department of Transportation officials at the unveiling and blessing ceremony of a new permanent exhibit celebrating Hawaii’s Nisei veterans.

tulsi-nisei“It’s a privilege and an honor to be here to celebrate the Hawaiʻi Nisei Veterans display and all that it symbolizes—especially with our Nisei veterans here today, representing service and sacrifice from different conflicts and different generations,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed Major in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard.

tulsi-nisei2“Your courage during a very difficult time says so much about the values that we strive to uphold and celebrate in this great country. To have this display here provides the opportunity for people coming through as they travel—both kama’āina and visitors from across the country and around the world—to learn more about your sacrifice and to make sure that the legacy of your service continues for generations to come.”

tulsi-nisei3The exhibit was produced by volunteers from the Nisei Veterans Legacy Center, a nonprofit organization created to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of the Americans of Japanese Ancestry who served in the United States armed forces during World War II, including the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Military Intelligence Service, and 1399th Engineer Construction Battalion. Nisei stands for second generation and represents American citizens born in the United States whose parents immigrated from Japan.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Connects Hawaii Soldiers With Employers at Transition Summit

This afternoon at Schofield Barracks, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard spoke to a group of more than 200 Hawaiʻi soldiers who are considering a transition from military service to civilian life.

tulsi-schofieldShe explained that our soldiers have the skills, leadership, and experience that would benefit any agency, organization, or business in the private sector. The congresswoman also highlighted some of the obstacles veterans face as highly trained applicants ready to join the civilian workforce when there are misconceptions about their preparedness once the uniform is laid down.

“This kind of transition summit sends a strong message to our service members—when you’re ready to lay down the uniform, you’re not going to get kicked to the curb and left on your own,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed Major with the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard. “Changing misconceptions that a veteran may not be fit to serve in the workforce is necessary—and it comes down to each of us affecting change in our own spheres of influence. Tell your story and encourage your fellow soldiers to do the same to help those who have never served understand the value that our veterans bring to the table. The need for this understanding is real.”

tulsi-schofield1In Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has worked to create incentives for businesses to hire veterans, to fight against attempts to roll back the Post-9/11 GI Bill, and to increase opportunities for veterans to participate in apprenticeship programs and more.

On the 12th anniversary of the Iraq War, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard launched the Post 9/11 Veterans Caucus, a bipartisan group of Members of Congress who have served in the military after 9/11, and who are dedicated to issues related to the newest generation of veterans. The caucus’ legislative agenda focuses on the 2.8 million veterans who have served and deployed since 9/11 and provides a forum for this new generation of veterans to voice their concerns and ideas.

tulsi-schofield2Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard introduced the bipartisan Veterans’ Entry to Apprenticeship Act—a bill that works to make that transition smoother by enabling veterans to use their GI Bill benefits to learn critical workplace skills or apprenticeship programs in the skilled-trade industry. Currently, GI Bill benefits cannot be used to cover the cost of Department of Labor approved pre-apprenticeship programs that teach the skills and techniques necessary to prepare individuals for training and careers in the skilled-trade industry.