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It’s been a busy week here in Washington, and I’m looking forward to heading back to Hawai‘i tomorrow. We passed an important bill that improves the Paycheck Protection Program so that it works better for businesses and workers. Our Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation joined together to call on the USDA to make sure its Coronavirus Food Assistance Program helps more of Hawai‘i’s farmers.
On Wednesday, I hosted another telephone town hall to answer your questions about coronavirus testing, relief programs, and what we have to do in order to reopen safely.
Today, I voted for H.R.7010, the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which would provide additional flexibility for small businesses to use PPP funds to make qualifying expenditures for loan forgiveness.
As of last week, the Small Business Administration approved PPP loans to 4,426,118 businesses across America totaling $511,231,948,095. In Hawai‘i, that translated to 23,312 businesses being approved for a total of $2,473,118,450 in loan support.
Read on for more details about how this bill will help make the PPP better. Since it passed the House today, it will now go to the Senate for consideration next week.
Leaders from the Hawai‘i Mental Health Pro Bono COVID-19 Project joined Mayor Kirk Caldwell today to announce a new program to provide support for the psychological well-being and mental health needs of individuals seeking help during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program, conceptualized by Dr. Lawrie Ignacio and Dr. Graham Taylor and coordinated by the Hawai‘i Psychological Association, offers free mental health services provided by a Pro Bono Service Provider to uninsured residents on Oʻahu and throughout the state.
The Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) Grab-and-Go school meals program will be extended at over 35 meal sites for an extra four days beyond the end of the school year on May 28 through Jun. 3. The schools will continue to provide breakfast and lunch free of charge to children 18 years or younger, regardless of eligibility for free or reduced price meals. On May 29, 34 distribution sites will stop serving meals during the summer break. Kauai school sites will stop serving on May 29 and restart on Jun. 8, at which time, 44 school sites will continue to serve meals through Jul. 17, 2020. Sponsor sites at public agencies, churches and nonprofit organizations will begin serving meals to children at additional locations in communities to support keiki.
Yesterday, I joined KHON for a 30 minute virtual town hall event moderated by Gina Mangieri along with fellow panelists Congressman Ed Case (HI01) and Governor David Ige. The discussion covered testing efforts, federal assistance, and how to prevent a second wave of infections. You can watch the complete town hall on KHON’s YouTube Channel.
Mayor Michael Victorino announced a five-week extension of a farmer assistance and food distribution program to help provide food to community organizations that provide food to families and individuals in need. Since late March, more than 6,000 bags of food have been distributed to families in need at over a dozen food distribution events in Central, South and West Maui, Upcountry, Paia-Haiku, Hana, Moloka‘i, and Lānaʻi.
This week, Gov. David Ige announced his plan for the gradual reopening of the state and issued his 8th supplemental emergency proclamation, extending the 14-day quarantine for travelers arriving in the State of Hawai‘i, as well as for inter-island travelers through June 30. The governor also extended through June 30 the eviction moratorium that prevents evictions from residential dwellings for failure to pay rent. Gov. Ige unveiled the re-opening and recovery plan for the State of Hawai‘i — a strategy that conveys the coordinated, statewide approach to jumpstarting the economy and recovery from the COVID-19 crisis. According to the plan – the state will start to gradually re-open medium-risk businesses and operations beginning in June – assuming the state’s COVID-19 activity remains manageable. The re-opening of high-risk businesses and operations will eventually follow, as long as Hawai‘i’s disease activity continues to remain manageable.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide $10.25 billion to states, territories, and local jurisdictions through CDC’s existing Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Prevention and Control of Emerging Infectious Diseases (ELC) cooperative agreement. The Indian Health Service (IHS) will provide $750 million to IHS, tribal, and urban Indian Health programs to expand testing capacity and testing-related activities. This funding from the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act — the fourth emergency assistance bill passed by Congress — will provide critical support to develop, purchase, administer, process, and analyze COVID-19 tests, conduct surveillance, trace contacts, and related activities. Through these funds, Hawai‘i will receive $50,283,598.
Today, the City and County of Honolulu launched the COVID-19 Household Hardship Relief Program with $25 Million in CARES Act funds designed to support households economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Oʻahu residents can reach out to one of our non-profit community partners to apply directly beginning May 18, 2020 — the Aloha United Way or the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement.
I’m in Washington, D.C. and just finished voting for the HEROES Act. While there are some gaping holes and problems with the bill, I supported it because it will provide assistance where it is most urgently needed — in our state and counties, in our small businesses, and in the hands of our people.
We also passed a resolution in the House that will allow for the option of remote proxy voting for those who are unable to return to Washington for votes. It will allow people to make sure their voices are heard, while reducing the public health risk to our constituents that comes from traveling on packed airplanes to and from the districts.
I just arrived in Washington, D.C. Tomorrow, I will be voting on the next emergency assistance bill as well as a rule change that will allow for proxy voting for Members of Congress during this pandemic, in the event they are not able to travel to Washington to vote in person.
The HEROES Act is a $3 trillion bill with extensive reach, and I’m reviewing the bill section by section prior to the vote tomorrow. I will include more updates and details tomorrow.
Yesterday, the City and County of Honolulu announced a Small Business Relief and Recovery Fund using $25 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding. The program, set to be launched on Monday, May 18, will reimburse small businesses for costs incurred from business interruption due to Emergency Proclamations and helps small businesses implement safety precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The City’s Office of Economic Development (OED) has collaborated with community credit unions to receive grant applications and disburse funds. The participating credit unions are Aloha Pacific Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i State Federal Credit Union, Hawai‘i USA Federal Credit Union, and Honolulu Federal Credit Union.
Today, I introduced a bipartisan bill with Rep. Rodney Davis from Illinois to help protect our nurses who are on the frontline fighting this pandemic. The Nurse Workforce Protection Act would protect nurses from significant layoffs or reduction of hours by a healthcare facility during the coronavirus crisis, as a condition for receiving federal emergency relief funds.
Tomorrow, I’ll be hosting my next telephone town hall with my guest, Lt. Gov. Josh Green. We will be discussing how things look for the weeks ahead for Hawaii and the nation. I will also be updating you with news from Congress where, right now, the House is preparing its next emergency assistance bill.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced the allocation of a third wave in CARES Act coronavirus relief funding. This wave totaling $1 billion is through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. To date, HUD has provided over $3 billion in CDBG funding nationwide to help communities acutely combat coronavirus and alleviate economic hardship. In the latest round of funding, Hawai‘i will receive over $5 million with $975,851 going to Hawai‘i County, $261,137 to Kaua‘i County, $698,280 to Maui County, and $3,081,677 to the City and County of Honolulu.
As we head into the weekend, I wanted to start off by wishing my mom and all the wonderful mothers out there a happy Mother’s Day. Mahalo nui to you all! I wanted to also quickly update you on the Economic Impact Payment from the IRS. The latest figures show that nearly 130 million individuals have received their payments, accounting for $200 billion in support during the first four weeks of the program. In Hawai‘i, 542,426 Economic Impact Payments have been made for a total of $923,960,321. If you haven’t gotten yours yet, the IRS is still working to get payments out to the rest of you.
Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded nearly $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers to expand COVID-19 testing. Nearly 88 percent of HRSA-funded health centers report testing patients, with more than 65 percent offering walk-up or drive-up testing. Health centers are currently providing more than 100,000 weekly COVID-19 tests in their local communities. As part of the latest round of funding, 11 community health centers in Hawai‘i received a total of $2,822,219 in supporting funds.
The County of Hawai‘i is working with the Food Basket, the Hawai‘i National Guard, and the State Sheriff’s Division to provide food drop-offs islandwide in May, during the ongoing COVID-19 emergency. The County announcement lists the sites and dates for food drop-offs during May.
Today is National Teacher Day and this week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. To my father-in-law who’s a public school teacher in Hawai‘i, and to all our teachers across the nation, I want to say thank you! I hear from a lot of parents right now who are especially appreciative of the great work our teachers do every single day. If you have a chance this week, thank a teacher for their service!
Leaders in Congress are negotiating the next round of emergency funding, which is focused on providing support for our state and local governments who are providing essential services to our communities.
The U.S. Small Business Administration will begin accepting new Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance applications on a limited basis only to provide relief to U.S. agricultural businesses. The new eligibility is made possible as a result of the latest round of funds appropriated by Congress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Agricultural businesses includes those businesses engaged in the production of food and fiber, ranching, and raising of livestock, aquaculture, and all other farming and agricultural related industries (as defined by section 18(b) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 647(b)).
The federal government’s CARES Act provides a separate program for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) that extends eligibility to individuals who normally do not qualify for traditional unemployment benefits (e.g., self-employed, gig workers). You can complete the pre-application online at pua.hawaii.gov. Please note that the information you submit, including income, will be validated against the Hawai‘i tax records. If your data does not match, it will delay processing of your application.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), awarded $20 million to increase telehealth access and infrastructure for health care providers and families to help prevent and respond to COVID-19. The funds will increase capability, capacity, and access to telehealth and distant care services.
Yesterday, in an interview published in the Wall Street Journal, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said that Economic Impact Payments — the one-time $1200 direct benefit payments to individuals, $500 for child dependents made possible by the CARES Act— should not be kept by family members of those who are deceased. Secretary Mnuchin noted that people who died in 2018 and 2019 were not eligible for the benefit — technically a tax credit — but that people who die this year still may have a tax-filing obligation for 2020 and therefore may be eligible for the benefit.
The latest emergency funding bill we passed in Congress provided funds for additional testing and tracing, and directed the Administration to develop a national testing strategy. Today, both CVS and Walmart have announced that they will be offering free coronavirus self-swab tests starting in May to individuals that meet the Centers for Disease Control criteria. It is a small, but important step in the right direction to get us to the level of testing we need.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated its list of symptoms for COVID-19. Initially, symptoms were limited to fever, cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing. Additional symptoms now include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and new loss of taste or smell.
I just landed in Hawai‘i about an hour ago, returning from Washington, DC where Congress passed another round of emergency funding to help with the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. President Trump signed it into law today. It will provide resources for our small businesses and will help to improve testing and contact tracing to prevent the spread of the virus. Funds from our previous emergency bills, including the CARES Act, continue to get to our state. These resources are helping many of our communities struggling in different ways during this pandemic — from our community health centers, frontline essential workers and caregivers to our students, farmers, and business owners.
Earlier today, I cast my vote for H.R.266, the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which is the next round of emergency funds to help fight the COVID-19 pandemic. While the majority of the bill helps replenish the Paycheck Payment Program (PPP) — which is important to help keep our small businesses afloat — the bill also provided additional funds for hospitals and coronavirus testing.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced an additional $100 billion in emergency relief funds from the CARES Act which was passed at the end of March. The Provider Relief Fund will help reduce the strain on our local healthcare providers as they deal with the pandemic. In particular, a portion of the funds will help states make sure that the uninsured are not left behind while $10 billion is specifically allocated to rural healthcare providers — like so many of our health clinics and hospitals in Hawai‘i.
I just arrived in Washington, DC as House and Senate leaders agreed to a deal with the Administration on the next emergency funding bill to support small businesses struggling with the coronavirus crisis. During my next tele-town hall meeting tomorrow at 4:00 p.m. HT, I will be updating you on this bill and will be joined by guests from the IRS — including Hawai‘i’s local taxpayer advocate — as well as the U.S. Census Bureau.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has expedited its process to today release emergency grants to strengthen access to treatments for substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding the increased strain on mental health services, the existing need that preceded the crisis and now is combined with the growing need due to the crisis, these Emergency Grants to Address Mental and Substance Use Disorders During COVID-19 are being awarded now and total $110 million. They will provide up to $2 million for successful state applicants and up to $500,000 for successful territory and tribal applicants for 16 months.
During this public health crisis, our kūpuna are among the most vulnerable in the community. Several public and community efforts are working to ensure that they are cared for and have someone checking in on them or bringing food when needed. Here are some of the programs working across our state to serve them: Our Kūpuna | Help Is On The Way | Meals on Wheels.
Both the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program have run out of appropriated funds due to high demands and as of today, the Small Business Administration is not considering new requests. I joined over 100 of my colleagues in sending a bipartisan letter (over 50 Republican House Members) to the SBA pointing to the magnitude of the crisis we are facing and that these programs need additional funds and improvements to meet the needs of our community. I will continue to fight in Congress for the resources our small businesses and workers need to make it through this crisis.
Today, the IRS launched its “Get My Payment” App webpage to assist individuals in tracking down and receiving their COVID-19 Economic Impact Payment made possible by the CARES Act passed by Congress at the end of March. You can visit the webpage, https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus/get-my-payment, to use the app. Last week, the IRS also set up a webpage for non-filers to help claim their Economic Impact Payment.
Sadly, we heard today that one of the sailors aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Teddy Roosevelt has passed away due to complications from COVID-19 infection. My prayers and condolences are with this sailor’s loved ones, and to all assigned to that ship. Your loss is our loss. The threat we face from this virus is real and must be taken seriously by all.
Tomorrow (Tuesday) at 2:00 p.m., I will be joining a webinar with the Small Business Administration’s Hawai‘i District Director, Jane Sawyer. If you’d like to join us, you can register online here.
On Wednesday at 4:00 p.m., I will be hosting my next tele-town hall meeting and invite you to join me. I will be joined by the commanders of the military bases here in Hawai‘i who will discuss how the military is responding to the coronavirus crisis, working with Hawai‘i officials to confront the pandemic, and answer questions. I will also provide an update on the latest news from Congress including our efforts to get emergency funds and support to communities here at home.
Many of you have asked how you can get the Economic Impact Payment that Congress passed as part of the CARES Act — especially if you have not had to file federal income taxes in 2018 and 2019. Now, the IRS has a new website dedicated to helping non-filers provide the information needed to help secure their Economic Impact Payment.
The House Committee on Appropriations has tracked the number of providers receiving funds and total funds received by each state from the CARES Act, the third emergency funding bill passed by Congress. Over $132 million in Public Health and Social Services Emergency funds were delivered to 1,776 providers across Hawai‘i.
Where’s My Economic Impact Payment? That is one of the most common questions I get asked in my office and during my tele-town halls. The Treasury Department has had a delayed rollout of the program Congress passed as part of the CARES Act — a direct benefit to get the money where it is needed most, in the hands of families across America who are being hit the hardest. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is creating a website — Where’s My Economic Impact Payment — to help you find out where your payment is, and to provide missing information should it be required. The Treasury Department and IRS have said they plan on opening the portal next week. I will keep you updated on when the website goes live.
I wanted to share more good news about our community health centers here in Hawai‘i. More than $10 million is being granted to 14 centers across our state through funds made possible by the CARES Act.
I will be talking about this and other updates as Congress considers another round of emergency funds during my tele-town hall this afternoon. I hope you will listen in at gabbard.house.gov/live at 4:00 p.m. (HT) today.
Great news! Our community health centers which are on the front lines of this pandemic are set to get new federal emergency funds in the latest round of grants issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. These funds were made available through the CARES Act — the third emergency funding bill Congress passed in response to this crisis.
I hope you all had a safe and restful weekend. Here’s a quick update. Stay-at-home orders are in full effect in Hawai‘i. In addition to social distancing, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone wear a mask to help prevent the spread of the virus. While N95 and surgical masks should be prioritized for our frontline healthcare workers, first responders, and their support staff, there are other types of masks, including cloth masks, that should be worn when you are outside of your home. The CDC has tips on how to wear a face cloth face covering. Of course, be sure to disinfect or wash your reusable masks immediately when not being worn!
The coronavirus crisis is impacting so many of our families and friends in different ways — not just across the country, but also within Hawai‘i. In the past weeks, I have sent letters to the Administration and Congressional leadership calling for a halt to all foreclosure and eviction proceedings, and urging support for SNAP and WIC. As we look to the next emergency funding bill, I am urging Congress to address the needs of farmers, ranchers, military families, rural communities, those living paycheck to paycheck, and the communities that rely on the tourism industry for their livelihoods. I will continue to fight to make sure no one falls through the cracks as we push through this pandemic together.
In response to initial confusion about guidance it issued, the Treasury Department issued a statement indicating that the I.R.S. would use the information on Forms SSA-1099 and RRB-1099 to generate $1,200 payments to Social Security recipients who did not file tax returns in 2018 or 2019. Social security recipients who do not normally file tax returns will not need to file a tax return to receive their payment. Recipients will receive these payments as a direct deposit or by paper check, just as they would normally receive their benefits.
During an interview with National Public Radio, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield noted that as many as 1 in 4 individuals infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus may not present symptoms. Dr. Redfield noted “That's important, because now you have individuals that may not have any symptoms that can contribute to transmission, and we have learned that in fact they do contribute to transmission.”
Dr. Scott Miscovich will be joining me on tomorrow’s telephone town hall. He is a senior advisor to Lt. Gov. Josh Green who has joined us on previous telephone town halls. Dr. Miscovich will cover efforts to improve COVID-19 testing in Hawai‘i. I will discuss the third emergency funding bill that was passed by Congress and other new developments at the Federal level. And, of course, we will be answering questions from Hawai‘i residents.
On Friday, Congress passed its third emergency funding bill in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. It includes direct cash payments to Americans, assistance for those who are out of work due to the outbreak, funding for small businesses, hospitals, and health care workers, and state and local governments, including at least $1.2 billion for Hawai‘i.
Aloha, As we continue to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, here are a few updates.
The third round of direct assistance legislation will pass Congress soon — I’ll be sending you an update shortly on exactly what new and extended benefits are available to all who are being impacted by this crisis. The benefits listed below for unemployment insurance and small business benefits will be expanded and updated in the next few days. Stay tuned.
As we continue to deal with the threats and challenges posed by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to reach out to you with updates on how the crisis is being addressed in Congress and in Hawai‘i.
On Wednesday, March 18, I hosted a telephone town hall meeting with Lt. Gov. Josh Green to update you on the latest developments in our fight against this pandemic. Together, we covered the state’s response as well as what Congress is doing — including efforts I have led to protect Hawai‘i and care for those who are being hit worst by this crisis.
President Trump just announced a deal to reopen the federal government for 21 days, and to provide back pay for the over 800,000 federal workers who have gone for 35 days without pay. This temporary opening will create the opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to come together to address funding levels and authorities for border security and immigration concerns. We cannot allow our government and federal employees to suffer and be held hostage because of partisan politics or policy disagreements.
The House of Representatives was not in session in August, so it was great to be able to spend a few weeks at home. What a month it has been. This year, we've been hit especially hard by natural disasters -- from major flooding and mudslides on Kaua‘i and O‘ahu in April, the ongoing volcanic eruption in Puna on Hawai‘i Island, and just recently, the flooding and wildfires on multiple islands related to Hurricane/Tropical Storm Lane. Read more.
I arrived on Kaua‘i yesterday and received an updated briefing at the Emergency Operations Center. I’ll be headed to the North Shore shortly to spend the day with those who have been hit hardest by this severe weather, providing whatever support I can.
On Monday, March 19, I’m hosting a live “telephone town hall” to share an update on legislation I’ve recently introduced, the Securing America’s Election Act.
As 2018 elections quickly approach, I’m working to pass my bill, the Securing America’s Elections Act (HR 5147) to safeguard our electoral infrastructure from hacking.
As you may know, the Department of Homeland Security reported that 21 state electoral systems were targeted with hacking attempts in the 2016 election, revealing serious vulnerabilities and threatening the integrity of our elections.
It was great to be home for a few days recently in between votes in Washington. Read more.
Last week, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality regulations which were put in place to protect fair and equal access to the Internet. I spoke out strongly against this decision which benefits the bottom line for major corporations on the backs of the people. Read more.
This week, we commemorate the 76th anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, a day that forever changed Hawai‘i and our country. We remember those who paid the ultimate price on that fateful day, and the millions of Americans who answered the call to serve in the months and years that followed, including two of our former U.S. Senators, Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka. Read more
On Tuesday December 5, I’m hosting my last telephone townhall of the year to answer your questions and share information about the proposed tax reform legislation in Congress. I’ll be joined by local and national guests to talk about the tax reform bills introduced in the House and Senate, scams to be aware of in the upcoming tax season, and resources for you and your ohana. To participate in this event, call 888-476-4187 at 4:00pm HST on Tuesday, December 5 and you'll be joined into the call. Read more
Last week, the House passed a disastrous tax bill that provides huge giveaways to corporations and special interests, and leaves everyone else behind. There’s no question our tax code needs serious reform, but this tax bill is not the way to achieve it. I voted against this legislation that increases our national deficit by over $1.4 trillion while ultimately raising taxes for millions of hardworking low-income and middle class families. Click here to read more.
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. Read more
President Trump’s recent decision to decertify Iran's compliance with the Iran Nuclear Deal has put the peace and security of Hawai'i and the United States at risk. While far from perfect, the purpose of this deal was to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon and to avert all-out war - this is exactly what has been done. This agreement is based on verification, not trust, and so far, according to our U.S. military, intelligence sources, and the international agency compliance experts (IAEA), Iran has complied. Read more
DACA must be protected. DREAMers like Valentin and Berenice on Maui, and so many more across Hawai'i, were brought to the U.S. and Hawai'i as children, through no choice of their own. They've shared heart-wrenching stories with me about living in fear and in the shadows until the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) was put into effect. They cried as they shared how DACA opened new doors for them and brought them out from the shadows, and now are fearing that these newfound freedoms and opportunities could all be taken away. They placed their trust in our government, and are now worried that trust will be betrayed, placing a target on their backs. Listening to their stories, I was inspired by their strength, their dedication to work hard and succeed, and their full hearts of aloha for the communities they’ve lived in almost all of their lives here in Hawai'i. Read more
July 20th marked the one year anniversary of the passing of our friend and colleague, Congressman Mark Takai. Mark was someone who lived his entire life with a heart committed to serving the people of Hawai'i and his country. I'm grateful to have known Mark, and had the honor of serving with Mark in the Hawai'i State Legislature, the Hawai'i Army National Guard, and in Congress where we both served on the Armed Services Committee. I spoke on the House floor last week to remember and honor Mark and his life of service. Read more.
Hope you had a wonderful weekend! Today is the last day to submit your comment to the FCC to help protect net neutrality. Net neutrality is the basic principle that the Internet should continue to be fair, open, and equal for all—not just for those who can afford to pay to play. If net neutrality is repealed, those who have the money will have access to content that those without the means will be shut out from. Net neutrality allows for an open marketplace and exchange of ideas, and levels the playing field, creating a hub for innovation, communication, and so much more. The FCC's current proposals would roll back these freedoms for the benefit and profit of big internet service providers on the backs of students, entrepreneurs and innovators, small businesses, and really, all of us. Read more.
Early Wednesday morning, as I was making my way to the U.S. Capitol, messages and news alerts started popping up on my phone. There had been a shooting, and a Member of Congress, staffers, and Capitol Police were hit. While the others are either in stable condition or are home with their families, our prayers are with Congressman Steve Scalise from Louisiana who remains in critical condition after having undergone three surgeries.
The mood in Washington has been somber, but I’ve been inspired by the camaraderie and spirit of aloha witnessed across the Capitol in the hours and days that followed. Hyper partisanship is tearing our country apart. We must do our best to live aloha and be respectful to others, regardless of our differences, whether they be based on politics, religion, race, or anything else. We can disagree, even strongly, without being disagreeable. In moments like this, we all have the opportunity to reflect and set a new tone, setting aside hatred and divisiveness, and instead choosing love and aloha.
Needless to say, it’s good to be home. I just landed back in Hawai'i a few hours ago, and tomorrow morning I'll join thousands in welcoming the Hokule'a, her sister Hikianalia, and their crew home to Hawai'i. Over the last three years, the Hokule'a has sailed approximately 40,000 nautical miles, visited more than 150 ports, and shared the mission of Malama Honua with more than 100,000 worldwide. On Sunday, I’ll address hundreds of young leaders from Hawai'i and around the globe at the opening session of the 2017 World Youth Congress. Read more.
I’m writing to you with a quick update from the plane on my way back to Hawai'i where I’m looking forward to joining the Wai'anae community tomorrow in celebrating our victorious UFC fighters Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros. On Tuesday, I joined my colleagues in a unanimous vote condemning attacks by Turkish President Erdogan’s security guards against peaceful protesters in Washington D.C. Our resolution, H.Res. 354, urges Turkey to return all security officials involved in the incident for prosecution under United States law, and calls for the universal protection of the free press and civil society.
On Wednesday, I spoke on the House floor urging my colleagues to support a ‘private bill’ to adjust Andres Magana Ortiz’s eligibility for legal, permanent residence in the United States. My bill, For the relief of Andres Magana Ortiz (H.R. 2794), is a last resort option that would permit a farmer, community leader, father and loving husband to remain at his home with his family in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i. After coming to the U.S. at just 15 years old, and nearly three decades living in Hawai'i, Mr. Ortiz worked his way from coffee picker to small business owner, growing Hawai'i’s coffee economy and creating local jobs. I joined the Hawai'i delegation in sending a letter to DHS Secretary John Kelly, urging him to suspend his deportation order. Mr. Ortiz received a 30-day reprieve from deportation yesterday. Like so many others, Mr. Ortiz deserves the opportunity to continue his pathway to a legal status, and I will continue to pursue legislative options to keep Mr. Ortiz with his family in the United States. Read more.
Yesterday, I cast my NO vote against the Republican healthcare bill that squeaked by, passing in the House by a vote of just 217-213. This bill gives huge tax giveaways to big pharma and insurance companies while stripping essential health benefits, expanding the crippling age tax on our kupuna, breaking the bank for those with pre-existing conditions, and slashing Medicaid coverage on which one in five Americans rely. People across the country are in desperate need of serious improvements to our healthcare system—this bill just makes things worse. As we look at ways to best deliver healthcare to all Americans, we must focus on bringing down costs, increasing access to quality care, and ensuring basic health services are available to all Americans. Read more.
I've just returned to Washington and my heart is filled with gratitude for the opportunity to meet with so many of you during my state-wide town hall tour. Thousands of people turned out across the state, while tens of thousands logged on to watch the town halls through our Facebook live sessions. In my travels across all of our islands, we discussed many important issues- from affordable housing, water infrastructure, criminal justice reform, affordable healthcare, online privacy, North Korea, Trump's recent illegal attack in Syria, and so much more. Your kindness, your activism, and your aloha are what made these meetings so powerful and productive. Read more.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a number of our prisons and jails across our islands, and saw firsthand the crumbling infrastructure, the extreme overcrowding, facilities in dire need of upgrades, as well as a shortage of resources to provide services necessary to help rehabilitate and empower inmates so we can reduce recidivism rates. Read more.
A winter storm hit Washington, DC over the weekend, and the icy winds blowing here share no resemblance to the sweet trade winds from home. Here’s a quick update for you on what's happening on health care reform, national security, local agriculture and invasive species, and my Stop Arming Terrorists Act. Read more.
From the Great Depression through the turn of the 21st Century, Glass-Steagall helped keep our economy safe. When Congress repealed it in 1999, it allowed too-big-to-fail banks to gamble with the savings and livelihoods of the American people, with devastating, irrevocable consequences. Hawai'i, along with communities across the country, paid the price in 2008 with the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Many people lost their homes and saw their life savings wiped out because of risky banking practices by the country’s biggest financial institutions. Read more.
The lives of millions of Syrians have been destroyed by a horrific war that has killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to flee their homeland. I went there last week to see and hear directly from the Syrian people. Read more.
On Tuesday, the 115th Congress began and all Members of Congress were sworn in, taking our oath of office. I’m so grateful to the people of Hawai'i for the privilege of continuing to serve you here in Washington. As a veteran and soldier, I’ve seen firsthand the cost of war. Hawai’i has directly felt the cost of war in many ways. I’m committed to continuing the fight to end the counterproductive regime change war in Syria which has caused tremendous loss of life and millions of refugees. Read more.
More updates and information from Rep. Tulsi Gabbard can be found here: