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Updates from Rep. Gabbard (July 21-27)



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has voted to pass a bipartisan resolution that would limit President Barack Obama’s ability to commit U.S. troops to Iraq.

The House passed H.Con.Res. 105 with overwhelming support by a vote of 370-40. It prohibits the president from deploying or maintaining U.S. troops in a sustained combat role in Iraq without specific authorization from Congress.

The resolution reaffirms the role of Congress in authorizing the use of force overseas.

“Our troops, their families, and the American people deserve to have our engagement in overseas conflicts debated openly, not behind closed doors and without the approval of the U.S. Congress,” said Gabbard, an Iraq War combat veteran. “Right now, we have troops on the ground in Iraq without authorization from Congress for an undetermined period of time. There has yet to be a serious debate in Congress about whether this is in the best interests of the American people. We owe it to our troops, my brothers- and sisters-in-arms, who sacrificed in Iraq for nearly a decade, to have an open debate about whether or not to re-engage our troops in Iraq. As it stands, I do not support sending our troops back into Iraq, to put their lives on the line, in what is essentially a sectarian religious war.

“Congress has the grave responsibility to determine when and where our troops go to war. This resolution seeks to stop what has been a clear shift of power, without legal basis, from the legislative branch to the executive branch in matters of war.”

Gabbard has been an outspoken advocate against renewed and indefinite U.S. involvement in Iraq, calling the ongoing conflict a sectarian civil war.

H.Con.Res. 105 will now go to the Senate for consideration.



The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to pass legislation supported by Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) to reauthorize BrandUSA, a public-private partnership that promotes U.S. travel to the global community.

The Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4450) was introduced by members of the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus. It will reauthorize BrandUSA for five years and will add several accountability and transparency measures.

The bipartisan legislation passed 347-57.

“Tourism is the most powerful driver of our local economy in Hawaii, as we welcome visitors from countries in the Asia-Pacific region, and around the world,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a member of the Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus. “We need this commonsense legislation because if Congress supports tourism, we create jobs, grow our economy, and increase opportunity in our communities across the country. In Hawaii, we are uniquely positioned to take full advantage of the BrandUSA reauthorization, and the public-private dollars that will be spent to promote the U.S. abroad.”

“As a board member of BrandUSA, I understand how critically important hospitality, travel, and tourism is to the state of Hawaii, and to our nation,” said Roy Yamaguchi, BrandUSA board member and Hawaii-based celebrity chef. “I’m grateful for Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard’s leadership in championing our efforts in Washington. Because of this BrandUSA reauthorization, we can continue to promote our beautiful islands abroad to a global community of visitors!”

Last year, tourism in Hawaii contributed $1.5 billion in total state tax revenue and supported 168,000 jobs, making it the largest generator of jobs across the islands.

BrandUSA’s work is supported through a combination of private sector contributions and matching funds from an existing international visa fee.

In Fiscal Year 2013, BrandUSA’s marketing efforts generated one million incremental visitors, which resulted in $7.4 billion in total sales and supported more than 53,000 new U.S. jobs.



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard joined a bipartisan group in a letter to call on congressional leaders to keep Congress in session until it passes a Veterans Affairs (VA) health reform bill.

The House and Senate have each passed different versions of legislation, and the bill has since been stalled in a conference committee.

“Veterans have waited too long for basic medical care. They shouldn’t have to wait another day for government bureaucrats to take action, or for Congress to set aside partisan bickering,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran. “Congress shouldn’t leave Washington next week if VA health reform legislation is not passed. There’s no excuse for continued inaction. This legislation will be one step forward in the process of comprehensively overhauling the VA. In the meantime, veterans need to be able to access healthcare from non-VA providers in their communities immediately. My bipartisan ACT Now for Veterans legislation would cut the red tape and allow veterans to get care now. We have clear solutions in Congress that would address the VA’s short-term and long-term challenges – it’s long past time to act on them.”

Gabbard last week introduced bipartisan legislation that would allow veterans to immediately seek care outside the VA system, with the assurance that the VA will cover the bill.

The ACT Now for Veterans bill (H.R. 5131) will ensure veterans get off unacceptably long wait lists and schedule a medical appointment immediately.

The bill will not require veterans to get VA pre-approval before seeking outside care, a bureaucratic obstacle included in the VA health reform bill.

The full text of the letter to congressional leaders is available at:



Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has announced her support and co-sponsorship of the Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment (SAVE) Act (H.R. 3775).

Currently, military sexual trauma (MST) survivors face bureaucratic red-tape that often gets in the way of their seeking treatment from qualified, experienced providers outside the Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system and TRICARE.

The Military SAVE Act would give these survivors the option to seek reimbursable care from non-VA/TRICARE medical providers who can best provide the care these victims need.

“The tens of thousands of military sexual assault survivors in our ranks must be able to receive the proper mental and physical care after experiencing violent sexual trauma,” said Gabbard, who has also advocated for military justice reform to serve assault victims. “These brave survivors who have stepped forward as they seek care, deserve to have more control over their own health decisions, particularly who they get care from. Sexual assault survivors have unique needs as a result of their traumatic experiences; they shouldn’t be forced to share personal and highly emotional experiences with a doctor who is not best-equipped to treat them. The Military SAVE Act gives survivors a chance to recover and heal under the care of a trusted healthcare provider.”

Currently, a victim can only seek treatment outside of TRICARE or the VA health care system if:

(1) in the opinion of the Department of Defense (DOD) or VA employee, a TRICARE or VA facility is unable to treat the victim;

(2) the victim is believed to live outside a reasonable travel distance from a TRICARE or VA health care facility; or

(3) a DOD or VA employee issues an official referral or letter of authorization.

To give military sexual assault survivors access to healthcare providers that meet their unique needs, the Military SAVE Act creates the following process:

Step One: File a claim and obtain a voucher – A victim of MST goes into their local TRICARE or VA health care facility to officially file a report and sign an affidavit that they are a victim of MST. This provides the DOD or the VA an account of the incident, notifies the Departments that this person is eligible to seek out-of-system treatment, and gives the authority for the victim to schedule appointments with an out-of-system provider. The Departments will then issue the victim a voucher that entitles the private provider to be reimbursed at a set amount.

Step Two: Find a provider who will see you – The MST victim contacts private providers to make sure they will accept the voucher/reimbursement from the DOD/VA, and then schedules an appointment.

Step Three: Go to the doctor – Victim sees the private provider.

Step Four: Provider bills the VA or DOD.

Step Five: VA or DOD reimburses provider – TRICARE and/or the VA verifies that the individual filed an initial MST claim, and then pays/reimburses the provider at pre-set amounts.

The legislation has earned the endorsement of the National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) and the National Military Family Association (NMFA).

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