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Updates from Rep. Gabbard (March 11-April 1)

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard attends the 2015 South by Southwest Interactive Festival and joins a bipartisan panel called “Millennials: The Unstoppable Force.” (Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Gabbard)

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard attends the 2015 South by Southwest Interactive Festival and joins a bipartisan panel called “Millennials: The Unstoppable Force.” (Photo courtesy of Congresswoman Gabbard)

MEDIA RELEASE

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) and Congressman Mark Takai (HI-01) issued the following statement in regards to the House of Representatives’ passage of the Native American Housing Assistance and Self-Determination Reauthorization Act (NAHASDA) of 2015:

“Since its enactment, this legislation has strengthened indigenous self-determination by empowering Native people by addressing affordable housing needs. In my home state of Hawaii, it has increased homeownership among Native Hawaiians, bringing hope to many people who are living paycheck to paycheck. This legislation makes a real difference in lives of families like the Paaluhi family from Nanakuli. It is an important step toward removing roadblocks to economic success, not only in Hawaii but in Native communities across the country.”

“I am extremely pleased that Congress passed the NAHASDA Reauthorization. This crucial piece of legislation reaffirms the commitment of the United States to the Native peoples of our country. NAHASDA not only helps with providing funding for housing programs, but also provides vital resources to foster the indigenous cultures of our great nation. Hawaii has one of the highest costs of living in the nation, so support through NAHASDA is essential for Native Hawaii families who wish to remain on their ancestral lands. I would like to extend a warm mahalo to my colleagues in the House, especially Rep. Don Young (AK), Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02), and Rep. Gwen Moore (WI-04) who fought to reauthorize NAHASDA and recognize its vital importance in regards to fostering the indigenous cultures of America.”

NAHASDA was first established in 1996 with the consolidation of several separate assistance programs, provided by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, into a single block grant program.

In 2000, NAHASDA was amended to add Title VIII – Housing Assistance for Native Hawaiians.

The amendment adds similar programs for Native Hawaiians who reside on Hawaiian Home Lands to the NAHASDA legislation.

The House of Representatives passed NAHASDA with a vote of 297-98.

Gabbard Joins SXSW Panel On Millennials In Politics

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) attended the 2015 South by Southwest Interactive Festival and joined a bipartisan panel called “Millennials: The Unstoppable Force” to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities that face the Millennial generation in America.

The panel focused the conversation on pressing issues facing young Americans, including Internet freedom, jobs, debt, healthcare, and criminal justice reform. Congressman Will Hurd (TX-23) joined Gabbard on the panel.

“Too often, political bickering in Washington overshadows the issues that this generation of Americans are concerned about,” said Gabbard. “Millennials care less about party labels and blind partisanship, and care more about getting things done. Like so many people, of all generations, I’m working towards finding creative solutions to the challenges that face our country, and finding strong partners to work with to get the job done. That must include more open dialogue and bipartisan collaboration in Congress that prioritizes results over rhetoric, and engaging with leaders and innovators who are finding solutions every day in our communities and in the private sector.”

There are 90 million Americans who make up the Millennial generation, and they face a set of challenges related to student debt, health care, and employment that are unique to their generation. Generally considered a tech-savvy, highly-educated, and engaged group, there are opportunities for Millennials to be game-changers in the realm of business, politics, and public service.

Before attending the SXSW panel, Gabbard met with members of The Bunker. The Bunker is a “program built by veteran entrepreneurs for veteran entrepreneurs. The Bunker targets existing veteran-owned tech startups and aspiring entrepreneurs to come, create, and conquer the business world through their ideas, hard work, and strategy. They invite early-stage companies to apply to join The Bunker and provide space at for six months, access to great talent, an exclusive network of fellow entrepreneurs, mentorship and professional development, and access to capital. The Bunker also invites aspiring entrepreneurs to apply to become Entrepreneurs in Residence at The Bunker, and intern at one of our portfolio companies.”

Gabbard asked Bunker members what the biggest challenges are that their veteran entrepreneurs face when they join, inquired about their model and peer-to-peer mentorship opportunities, and learned about the organization’s access to networks, expertise, and capital.

Walorski, Gabbard Introduce Veterans Access to Extended Care Act

Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) introduced bipartisan legislation that would expand veterans’ access to certain health care services and allow former service members to receive services from local providers.

The Veterans Access to Extended Care Act would give Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) the authority to enter into provider agreements for extended care services. The legislation would permit veterans to obtain non-VA extended care services from local providers that include: nursing center care, geriatric evaluation, domiciliary services, adult day health care, respite care, palliative care, hospice care, and home health care when they are “non-institutional alternatives to nursing home care.”

“I’m grateful to partner with Rep. Gabbard and my colleagues in the Senate to help simplify the complex process that non-VA providers must go through in order to provide extended care services to veterans. This legislation will help streamline partnering with the VA for these kinds of services and allow the department to work with additional healthcare providers to help ensure that every vet who needs care receives it as quickly as possible,” said Walorski.

“This bipartisan legislation will ensure that those who served our country are taken care of and given access to the health care they have earned and deserve. Bureaucracy and red tape should never get in the way of providing quality care to those who have selflessly sacrificed so much for our country. This bipartisan and bicameral partnership with Rep. Walorski and our Senate colleagues speaks strongly to the high priority we place on serving and caring for our veterans in their time of need,” said Gabbard.

Currently, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is authorized to enter into contracts with extended care provider and it’s long-standing policy that Medicare and Medicaid providers are not considered to be federal contractors. However, if a provider currently has VA patients, they are considered to be a federal contractor under the Service Contract Act (SCA).

In February 2013, the VA issued a proposed rule, RIN 2900-A015, which would make the VA reporting requirements for providers the same as they are for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Unfortunately during interagency review, VA realized that it never had the statutory authority to enter into these agreements.

Allowing extended care providers to enter into VA Provider Agreements instead of contracting would allow them to avoid complex federal contracting and reporting rules that come with being deemed a federal contractor. The Walorski, Gabbard legislation would fix this error and allow the VA to enter into provider agreements.

Companion legislation was also introduced in the Senate by Sens. Hoeven (R-ND) and Manchin (D-WV).

Bill text and a copy of a letter signed by Walorski and Gabbard to the VA encouraging a release of the rule are attached.

Gabbard Meets With Kurdistan Regional Government Representatives

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) met with the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) High Council of Women’s Affairs and Director General and discussed the importance of supporting and aiding the peshmerga as an ally against Islamic extremist terrorists, particularly ISIS.

Pakshan Zangana is a Kurdish politician who serves as the President of the High Council of Women’s Affairs in the Kurdish Regional Government—Iraq. Previously, she was the Head of the Women’s Committee in Kurdistan Parliament and a member of the Women’s League’s secretariat. In 2005, she was part of the Kurdish List delegation to support the writing of Iraq’s Constitution. Zangana was born in Suleimaniyah. She joined the Peshmerga in 1980s. She later earned a degree in Physics before going on to get her Masters in Social Science.

Before joining the KRG, Florin Gorgis, now Director General of the KRG High Council of Women Affairs, worked for Andorra International, Newroz Telecom, and Ishtar Broadcasting Corporation. She has also worked for UNICEF and participated in numerous UN workshops and training programs. A native Assyrian Christian speaker, she also speaks Kurdish, English, Arabic, and French. Born in Diana, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, she studied English at the University of Salahaddin and completed an executive program at the Maastricht School of Management in 2012 in Netherlands.

“It was an honor to hear from these brave women who are fighting for their lives, their families, and their freedom against ISIS,” said Gabbard. “These women are resilient and courageous, and are working on the front lines to keep their home safe and secure. The United States must take action and become a true partner, by providing the necessary military aid directly to the Kurdish peshmerga.”

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of Iraq’s High Council on Women’s Affairs was established in 2009 by the KRG Council of Ministers. The Prime Minister heads the Council, which includes six Ministries: Interior, Finance, Justice, Culture & Youth, Labor & Social Affairs, and Education.

The High Council on Women’s Affairs has been particularly active in light of the deteriorating security situation in Iraq and Syria with the rise of violent extremism such as ISIS where many thousands of women have been subjected to persecution, violence, slavery, and extortion.

The President of the KRG High Council of Women’s Affairs and Director General also attended the 59th session of the Commission on the Status of Women at United Nations Headquarters in New York.

Gabbard, Perry Launch Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus On 12th Anniversary of Iraq War

On the 12th anniversary of the Iraq War, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-02) and Congressman Scott Perry (R-PA-04) launched the Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus. They were joined by Congressman Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-07), Congressman Mark Takai (D-HI-01), Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA-33), and Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA-06).

The Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus will include a bipartisan group of Members who have served in the military after 9/11, and who are dedicated to issues related to our newest generation of veterans.

The caucus’ legislative agenda will focus on the 2.8 million veterans who have served and deployed since 9/11, and provide a forum for this new generation of veterans to voice their concerns and ideas.

“Taking care of our brothers and sisters in uniform who have selflessly served our country must be a priority for Congress,” said Gabbard. “The bond that exists between those of us who have served spans across all generations. As Members of Congress who share the experience of this newest generation of veterans, we have the privilege of serving as their voice, working toward ensuring that their unique concerns are addressed, and that their ideas and potential are realized. I am pleased to join my friend and fellow veteran Congressman Scott Perry in bringing our newest generation of veterans into focus, and the challenges they face as they come home and transition back into civilian life. This Congress recently passed bipartisan legislation, the Clay Hunt SAV Act, that will help our returning service members. This is a first step toward the great work that still remains to empower, care for, and serve those who have so selflessly served our nation.”

“Congress has a duty to honor the service of the those who wear – and wore – our country’s uniform and sacrificed so that we may enjoy the blessings of freedom”, said Perry. “Thousands of Americans have served selflessly around the world and many of them carry emotional, psychological and physical scars from their service, which raises many complicated public policy challenges, such as helping Veterans to transition to civilian life, confront mental health challenges and find employment. In recent years, Congress has passed legislation to expand Veterans’ health care options, hold the VA more accountable and improve access to mental health services. But we have much more work to do and I’m honored to join my colleague Congresswoman Gabbard to confront these challenges and do right by our Nation’s true heroes and their families.”

“Like Rep. Gabbard, Perry and so many other men and women, I had the privilege and honor of serving my country,” said Gallego. “I’ve lived through the difficult task of transitioning to civilian life and waiting a very long time to get the health care I needed from our VA system. I am proud to be a part of the Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus and I’m committed to working tirelessly to ensure that veterans have a smoother transition and that they have the resources they need to continue their education, find a job, and get the care they need for themselves and their families.”

“I am proud and honored to be joining my brothers and sisters that have served in the Armed Services in establishing this new caucus,” said Takai. “The number of veterans in Congress is at an all-time low, now more than ever, there needs to be a strong and united voice in Congress advocating on behalf of our veterans. The recent conflicts in the Middle East have produced a new generation of veterans with unique needs that must be met, and as a caucus of members that are part of this recent generation of service, we understand the challenges that lie ahead. I would like to thank Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Perry for taking the initiative and bringing us together. Together, as a united force we will be able to bring about positive change in the lives of our veterans.”

“As a veteran and an Air Force reservist, I am honored to join Reps. Gabbard, Perry, Takai, Moulton and Gallego in today’s launch of the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus,” said Congressman Lieu. “No veteran in America should face a crisis of health security, homelessness, unemployment, substance abuse or post-traumatic stress. Through the Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus, Democrats and Republicans have the chance to work together to forge innovative solutions to protect and promote our veteran community.”

“As veterans, we know the sacrifices that service men and women make to keep Americans safe,” said Moulton. “We also know the challenges – both emotional and economic – that many of us face. It’s Congress’ responsibility to protect our veterans and provide them with the resources they need to live healthy, successful lives. I’m proud to join this bipartisan caucus of veterans working to ensure our nation’s veterans are never left behind.”

The Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus is focused on empowering the most recent generation of veterans to continue their commitment to service and carry on their mission of a stronger and more prosperous America. The Caucus will strive to improve veterans’ transition to civilian life, reduce the Veterans Affairs disability claims backlog, promote education, entrepreneurship, and employment opportunities, and ensure responsive, expedient, and effective services for veterans. The Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus will join forces to better serve our newest generation of veterans.

“IAVA envisioned a caucus to represent our generation. It’s very exciting to see Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and Congressman Scott Perry make that vision a reality today.” said Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “After more than 13 years of Americans in combat, it is encouraging to see these members of Congress band together to tackle veterans’ issues head on. As veterans themselves, they have a keen understanding of the critical challenges faced by post-9/11 veterans, service members and their families. In 2015 our country will continue to welcome home the thousands of brave men and women who wore the uniform. Ensuring quality care for these veterans should not be a partisan or political fight. We hope this caucus will bridge the military-civilian gap and provide quality solutions to veteran suicide, reforming VA, lowering veteran unemployment, protecting the New GI Bill and more.”

Gabbard and Perry, both veterans of the Iraq war, will serve as Co-Chairs of the Congressional Post-9/11 Veterans Caucus.

Barr Reintroduces Military SAVE Act

Congressman Andy Barr (R-KY) has reintroduced the H.R. 1603, the Military Sexual Assault Victims Empowerment (SAVE) Act. The bill would allow survivors of military sexual trauma to seek specialized care outside of the Veterans Administration health care system.

“We owe members of the military the best medical treatment available, and victims of sexual assault in the military certainly deserve the compassion, flexibility, and discretion to make their own decisions about the best course of care for their unique needs,” said Barr. “I’m grateful for the bipartisan support of this legislation, and I look forward to advancing this commonsense solution to empower survivors of sexual assault in the military.”

The Military SAVE Act has 11 original cosponsors including Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), a captain in the Hawaii National Guard who has served two tours of combat in the Middle East.

“The tens of thousands of military sexual assault survivors in the military must receive proper mental and physical care after experiencing such horrible trauma,” said Gabbard. “Stepping forward and seeking care is a battle all its own. Those who speak up must have their safety ensured and greater control over their own health decisions. Sexual assault survivors have unique needs; they shouldn’t be forced to share personal and highly emotional experiences with a doctor who is not best-equipped to treat them. I’m joining my friend and colleague Congressman Andy Barr in calling once again on Congress to give survivors a chance to recover and heal under the care of a trusted healthcare provider.”

Kentucky Commissioner of Veterans Affairs Heather French Henry also supports the bill. “The Military SAVE Act would be a great step forward to ensuring Kentucky veterans have the resources they need if they experienced a sexual assault while in the military,” said Commissioner Henry. “I applaud Congressman Barr for shining a light on this issue, and making the care of veterans a priority in Congress.”

The legislation was in part inspired by Susan Moseley, a survivor of a military sexual assault. “After I was sexually assaulted in the military I did not get the help I needed,” said Mosely. “As a result, I was lost for more than 20 years. I hope Congressman Barr’s legislation will help other victims to get the help they need so they can overcome their trauma and thrive.”

To learn more about the Military SAVE Act, visit Congressman Barr’s website at: http://barr.house.gov/issues/military-save-act.

First Place: Annalina Lozano’s “Pride” Parker School – Waimea, Hawaii Island Winning Exhibit: U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC

First Place: Annalina Lozano’s “Pride”
Parker School – Waimea, Hawaii Island
Winning Exhibit: U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC

Gabbard Announces Winners of 2015 Kaha Kii Congressional Art Competition

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) hosted an awards ceremony in coordination with the Hawaii Art Education Association and Youth Art Month, where she announced the winners of the 2015 Kaha Ki‘i 2nd Congressional District Art Competition. This year’s submissions from every island boasted a record 121 entries in the annual contest that first began in 1982. Of these, four winning pieces were announced. The artists accepted cash prizes and their work will be showcased online, in Rep. Gabbard’s Hawaii and Washington, DC offices, and at the U.S. Capitol.

“I am extremely proud of the contestants, finalists, and winners of the 2015 Kaha Kiʻi Congressional Art Competition,” said Gabbard. “Their artwork, creativity, and talent will be displayed proudly online, in my office, and in the halls of the United States Capitol. They are a shining example of the tremendous artistic talent that Hawaii students have, as well as the strength of our local arts educators.”

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