11/2/17: Honoring Our Filipino WWII Veterans

November 2, 2017


After waiting decades for their service to be recognized, we welcomed our Filipino World War II veterans to our nation’s capital to award them with the Congressional Gold Medal – Congress’s highest civilian honor.  

Our country is forever grateful for the service and sacrifice of the over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers who bravely served our country during World War II – heroes like Sixto Tabay, the last living Filipino WWII veteran on the island of Kaua'i who I recently had the good fortune to meet. Soldiers like Sixto suffered hardships, fought bravely, and sacrificed greatly, with many giving up their lives alongside their American counterparts throughout the war, yet their service was left unrecognized in the United States for decades.

Earlier this year, I met with Sixto Tabay, the last living Filipino World War II veteran on the island of Kaua'i, and his family 

Because of legislation that I passed with Senator Mazie Hirono, we were finally able to right this wrong and recognize and honor their service and sacrifices with the Congressional Gold Medal in a presentation ceremony in the U.S. Capitol last week. These warriors have joined the heroic ranks of the likes of the Tuskegee Airmen and Hawai'i’s own 442nd/100th Infantry Battalion with this prestigious honor. Video of the full Congressional Gold Medal Ceremony in honor of the Filipino Veterans of WWII is available here.

Click the photo above to watch my speech on the House floor honoring the service and sacrifice of over 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers who bravely fought in World War II.

I joined my colleagues on a very special day to honor the service and sacrifice of our Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal—our nation’s highest civilian honor. 

Here are some additional updates: 

Protecting our People and our Planet 

I led a coalition of lawmakers, advocacy groups, activists, non-profit organizations, and local government officials in urging Congress to pass my bill, the OFF Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act (OFF Act) to transition the United States to a 100 percent clean energy economy by 2035. Our country cannot passively stand by while the climate crisis devastates our planet and the livelihoods of working families across the country and the world. At home in Hawai‘i, we’ve already begun to experience the effects of climate change directly through record-breaking sea levels, high surf that has eroded land beneath homes and made roads impassable, and rising ocean temperatures that have dramatically altered marine life and destroyed our coral reefs. We must protect the most vulnerable in our society, protect our planet, grow the economy and rebuild America’s infrastructure with a stable, domestic clean energy economy. I'm working to pass my bill, the OFF Act to end our addiction to fossil fuels and transition the country to a clean energy economy by 2035. Watch our OFF Act press conference here. 

Taking Back our Healthcare System from Big Pharma 

For far too long, Big Pharma has played by its own rules, benefiting from skyrocketing drug prices on the backs of our most vulnerable populations. When the Medicare Part D program was established in 2003, Big Pharma lobbyists influenced those policies and included a provision that banned the Secretary of Health and Human Services from negotiating lower prices directly with pharmaceutical companies.

Over 42 million Americans who are enrolled in Medicare Part D continue to face rising costs on brand name drugs, along with fewer generic drugs and higher premiums, making it difficult, if not impossible, for many to fill their prescriptions. We need to take back our healthcare from pharmaceutical companies and pass the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act to allow the Secretary of HHS to negotiate drug prices directly with manufacturers to secure affordable, lifesaving medication for millions of Americans. Watch my speech on the House floor urging Congress to pass the Medicare Drug Price Negotiation Act here. 

Defending the Middle Class 

I voted against the Senate Republicans’ FY 2018 Budget Resolution, which passed the House with a party-line vote.  

The budget resolution casts aside the needs of the most vulnerable communities in Hawai'i and across the country, in order to give tax breaks and giveaways to huge corporations and the wealthiest 1% in the country. This budget not only continues to drive a wedge between the rich and poor, but it also heartlessly cuts programs that America’s kupuna, keiki, veterans, and low-income communities rely on just to make ends meet. This includes drastic funding cuts to long-standing and historic programs like Medicare, Medicaid, the Highway Trust Fund, Pell Grants, Head Start services, NIH research, and nutrition assistance programs, while fast-tracking oil and gas drilling in the Alaska Wildlife Nature Reserve. I voted against this harmful budget resolution that strips away crucial services for hard-working Americans, and fast-tracks a plan that will plunge the United States $1.5 trillion further into debt on the backs of an already struggling middle class.

Other highlights:

  • Attended a House Armed Services committee briefing on FISA Section 702 collection with briefers from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff, the National Security Agency, and the Department of Justice
  • Co-sponsored H.R. 4140 to prevent the Trump Administration from attacking North Korea without the approval of Congress 
  • Joined the first NDAA conference committee meeting to discuss Hawai‘i priorities in the FY2018 defense authorization bill 
  • Co-sponsored H.R. 4164 to protect farmers’ water rights for the cultivation of industrial hemp 
  • Attended a House Foreign Affairs committee hearing on the next steps of President Trump’s Iran decision

With aloha,

Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress (HI-02)

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