Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Colleen Hanabusa Introduce Bill to Increase Hawai‘i, Nationwide Civil Defense Preparedness

April 2, 2018
Press Release

Washington, DC—Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen civil defense preparedness in Hawai‘i and across the country. The Civil Defense Preparedness Act of 2018 (H.R. 5399) would expand existing Department of Homeland Security (DHS) terrorism and catastrophic event grant programs to include improving nuclear, biological, and chemical attack preparedness. The grants would be used for training, protective equipment, building reinforcements, and other community preparedness measures.

In response to Hawai‘i’s false missile alert, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has also introduced bipartisan legislation that would improve accountability by ensuring transparent investigations and disclosure into the incident and establish best practices to strengthen state and national preparedness and disaster communications plans, among other measures.  

Read the Civil Defense Preparedness Act of 2018 Here

Read a One Page Summary of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s Bill Here

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said, “The false ballistic missile alert sent out in Hawai‘i earlier this year, and the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea, reveal major gaps in preparedness measures and alert plans across all levels of our government. Addressing this must be taken seriously and made a priority in Hawai‘i and across the country. My bipartisan legislation provides the means to support state and local governments to make these critical investments for our communities.”

“More than two months have passed since the false ballistic missile alert revealed significant failures in our preparations for a possible attack and we are still seeking a full, transparent accounting of what went wrong for 38 minutes on January 13th. We must review HI-EMA’s Attack Warning Signal system and our community response plan in the event of a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear attack as part of the process to restore the public trust,” said Congresswoman Hanabusa. “This bipartisan bill will help prioritize Department of Homeland Security grant funding for communities that need to improve training, fortify or create shelter space, and purchase new equipment. Hawaii and many other municipalities around the country will benefit from increased access to federal funding to support community preparedness and response.”

“Failure of successive administrations to prevent North Korea from obtaining nuclear weapons creates a need to ensure preparedness even for the unthinkable. Congresswoman Gabbard and I are leading on this issue,” said Congressman Tom Garrett (R-VA).

Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said, “We need better preparedness in Guam, Hawai‘i and other areas in our country that are especially susceptible to threats from weapons of mass destruction. North Korea directly targeted Guam last year, and while our people are confident in our island’s defenses, more needs to be done to inform the public, harden facilities, and enhance coordination between our military, civilian, and law enforcement partners. I am proud to join Congresswoman Gabbard in introducing this important legislation so that DHS prioritizes funding for areas at risk from WMDs. I look forward to working with her to pass this bill and providing much needed federal resources to keep our communities safe and secure.”  

“The U.S. States and Territories throughout the Pacific are at the forefront of a range of potential threats, and Congresswoman Gabbard’s bill will help ensure the training, infrastructure and equipment is there if needed,” said Congresswoman Aumua Amata. “It’s essential to have a well-planned response ready to go in the event of a sudden threat.”

Background:

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has also introduced the Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 (H.R. 4949) that would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to publicly disclose incident and recommendation reports about the January 13 false alert. It would also compel ballistic missile civil defense agencies to review the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats and study the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies to prevent a similar catastrophic mistake. In addition, the bill would instruct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publicly detail the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attack.  

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