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Aloha,
 
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. 

Here are some updates from this week:

Last weekend, I joined the people of Wai'anae in celebrating our very own UFC warriors, UFC Featherweight Champion Max Holloway and world-renowned UFC fighter Yancy Medeiros.  Max and Yancy are not only successful in their sport, but are mentors and role models to keiki in Wai'anae and all across Hawai'i as they continue to find ways to give back to the community. It was great to join the Westside community in showing our pride and celebrating their accomplishments.

I presented Max Holloway and Yancy Medeiros with congressional certificates recognizing their achievements and proud representation of Hawai'i to the world

After Saturday’s events in Wai'anae, I flew back to DC to join hundreds of people from Hawai'i and across the country for the 48th Annual Kamehameha Lei Draping Ceremony in the U.S. Capitol. Local halau and musicians shared the spirit of aloha in celebration of Hawai'i’s native king, and we presented lei to honor Kamehameha’s birthday. King Kamehameha was a leader ahead of his time who understood that true unity, in the end, could not be achieved at the tips of spears or by the muzzles of guns, but through dialogue, mutual respect, and working to understand common goals between people. What we learn from leaders like King Kamehameha is that we are at our best when we confront challenges together—when we set aside differences and unite.

I spoke at the annual King Kamehameha Lei Draping Ceremony in the U.S. Capitol to honor Kamehameha and his legacy of unity and aloha

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the tragic Pulse nightclub shooting that killed 49 of our brothers and sisters. As a member of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus, my colleagues and I introduced a resolution in remembrance of the tragedy. Click here to read more.  

On Monday night, Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford came before the House Armed Services Committee to answer questions about their proposed Department of Defense budget. Click here to watch my questions regarding what they’re doing to defeat al-Qaeda in Syria.  

Congress has repeatedly acknowledged the special relationship between the U.S. government and Native Hawaiians, and authorized funding for Native Hawaiian housing programs that serve thousands of families across our islands. This year, the Senate is considering a bill that would exclude Native Hawaiians from native housing legislation—this is unacceptable. I joined our Hawai'i delegation in writing to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee urging them to reject this unjust bill. Click here to read our testimony.

For too long, veterans in Hawai'i and across the country have faced a crisis of unacceptable delays and challenges as they try to access quality care from the VA. The systemic problems within the VA that created this situation cannot be ignored. This week, I voted for bipartisan legislation (S.1094) that will enact long-overdue reforms to provide accountability and improve oversight at the VA, while maintaining protections for whistleblowers and ensuring due process for workers. The bill has passed the House and Senate and now heads to the President for consideration. Click here to read more.

 

I welcomed nearly 70 local businesses that came to DC for this year’s “Hawai'i on the Hill”

Each year, I look forward to welcoming local business owners and Hawai'i leaders to Washington, DC for the annual “Hawai‘i on the Hill”. Nearly 70 Hawai'i businesses attended this year, ranging from food and beverage companies to representatives from energy, tourism, and agriculture industries. They brought the aloha spirit with them, and lots of lei for everyone they met, making great connections and leaving a strong impression on policymakers and leaders in Washington.

A few additional highlights: 

  • Meeting with Kaua'i Island Utility Cooperative and student delegates from Waimea High School, the Island School, Kapa'a High School, and Kaua'i High School
  • Meeting with the Egyptian Parliament Delegation led by Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Dr. Ahmed Said
  • Meeting with Honolulu Mayor Caldwell
  • Meeting with Kaua'i’s Pacific Missile Range Facility Commander Captain Vincent "Vinnie" Johnson
  • House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to discuss the State Department budget for FY2018
  • Meeting with Kaua'i’s Mayor Carvalho
  • Meeting with Hawai'i delegates from the American Association of University Women (AAUW)

With aloha,


Tulsi Gabbard
Member of Congress (HI-02)


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