Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Votes to Avert Government Shutdown, Grow Our Economy

December 19, 2015
Press Release
Washington, DC—Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the statement below following her votes in favor of the Fiscal Year 2016 omnibus spending and tax extender legislative packages. The tax extender package passed with a vote of 318-109.  The omnibus funding legislation passed with a vote of 316-113.  Both were considered as amendments to H.R. 2029, which the Senate then took up and passed by a vote of 65-33. The President signed the legislation into law shortly afterward.
 
 “Today, we averted a potential government shut down. I voted to keep the government open, take care of 9/11 first responders, protect our environment, and empower working families and small businesses, encouraging long-term growth across the country. The year-end omnibus spending bill and tax extender packages are far from perfect, but they represent a compromise between both parties and a strong economic package. They avoid the detrimental alternatives of either a shutdown or a continuing resolution, which would have had a devastating impact on our communities, and on our military and national security.  

“There are critical investments across the state of Hawai'i that are funded in this bill, such as rural development projects that serve local businesses and communities, maintenance and improvements for our highways, public transportation and infrastructure, land and water conservation projects for at-risk forests on Hawai'i Island and O'ahu, and education grants for Native Hawaiian students and families, to name just a few.

"One in eight of our keiki in Hawai'i live in poverty, and the permanent extension of the Earned Income and Child Care Tax Credits will help thousands of middle- and low-income local families pay their bills and put food on the table. Local businesses, students, teachers, working families, and the environment will benefit from the extension of tax credits for higher education, energy efficiency, renewable energy, research and development, and more.

“The omnibus spending bill rejected Wall Street big banks’ attempts to include measures in the bill that would have loosened regulations on brokers and threatened consumer protection.” Last year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard voted against the FY 2015 omnibus bill after last minute policy riders snuck into the bill handed Wall Street a major victory on the backs of American consumers.
 
Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard continued, “While there are many provisions in this legislation that will have a positive impact on our community and economy, there are some that remain a concern. One that I'm particularly concerned about is a major portion of the bill that deals with cyber security. While it attempts to improve our ability to address and prevent cyberattacks, there are loopholes within the language that may allow for the government to undermine the privacy and civil liberties of Americans. These are serious issues that must be addressed in a separate standalone bill, rather than buried in more than 2,000 pages of a must-pass funding bill.  Multiple high profile online hacks occurred this year, exposing vulnerabilities within current law, and proving our systems to be inadequate in protecting our national security and the personal information of millions of Americans. We need to continue to improve our ability to detect and prevent cyberattacks while balancing the constitutional right to privacy of the American people.”
 
Other key provisions included in this legislation include:
  • Renewable energy: Extends Wind and Solar Tax Credits for five years, and increases research and development funds for new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.
  • Education: Increases investment in Head Start by nearly $600 million more than in 2015, and provides $250 million for Preschool Development Grants, assisting 18 states across the country, including Hawaiʻi.
  • Infrastructure: Continues funding for TIGER grants that repair infrastructure and contribute to economic growth across the country. This year, Kauaʻi County received a $13 million TIGER grant for the Lihuʻe Town Core Mobility and Revitalization Project.
  • Health: Permanently reauthorizes the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act to provide health care for 9/11 first responders, and increases funding for life-saving medical research at the National Institute of Health (NIH).
  • Support for Veterans: Provides $7.46 billion in 2016 for mental health programs for veterans, with an emphasis on suicide prevention, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Provides $7.72 billion in 2017 for the same programs.
    First Responders: Provides $690 million for firefighter assistance grants that are critical to ensuring that our nation’s first responders are adequately trained and equipped to safely carry out their duties responding to emergencies in their communities. Also provides funding to recruit and retain new firefighters and volunteer firefighters to help combat staffing shortages at fire stations across the country.
 
Background:
The FY2016 omnibus spending bill has received widespread support from industry leaders, including the National Federation of Independent Business, National Retail Federation, AFL-CIO, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), National Taxpayers Union, Telecommunications Industry Association, National Organization of Women, NAACP, Food Research and Action Center, and National Education Association, among many others.
Hawaiʻi Funding Highlights:
  • Military Construction
    • Power grid upgrades at Pacific Missile Range Facility - $30.623 million
    • Projects at Marine Corps Base Hawai‘i (MCBH), including airfield lighting modernization, housing, and support facilities - $228.689 million
    • Projects at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) including the F-22 Fighter Alert Facility, welding school shop consolidation, and others - $60.881 million
    • Projects at Schofield Barracks to construct a behavioral health and dental clinic facility - $123.838 million
  •  Education
    • U.S. Department of Education Native Hawaiian Education Act grants – $33.397 million
    • U.S. Department of Education Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions grants - $13.802 million
    • USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Education Grants for Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions  - $3.2 million
    • Institute of Museum and Library Services Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services grants - $972,000
  • Conservation:
    • Island Forests at Risk  - Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park - $6 million
    • Island Forests at Risk – Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Reserve - $8.589 million
    • Helemano Wilderness Area - $3 million
  • Infrastructure:
    • Honolulu Rail Transit Project – $250 million
    • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Hawaiʻi Projects:
      • Kikiaʻola Small Boat Harbor - $3.5 million
      • Honolulu Harbor - $933,000
      • Port Allen Harbor - $773,000
      • Barbers Point Harbor - $317,000
      • Inspection of Completed Works in Hawaiʻi - $725,000
      • Hawaiʻi Project Conditions Survey - $798,000
  • East-West Center - $16.7 million
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