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Rep. Gabbard Votes to Fund Critical Hawai‘i, Nationwide Programs

March 23, 2018, 8:17 AM HST
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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (Hawai‘i-02) voted on Thursday, March 22, 2018, to pass the FY 2018 omnibus spending package that funds critical investments and programs in Hawai‘i and across the country.

The bipartisan legislation invests in key missile defense capabilities, opioid treatment and prevention measures, veterans’ healthcare, rural infrastructure, affordable housing programs and more.

H.R. 1625 passed the House by a vote of 256-167.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard said:

“While I have serious concerns about portions of this spending bill, it funds critical programs and necessary investments to address the many challenges facing our communities and ends the destructive trend of temporary funding bills that cause uncertainty and have threatened multiple government shutdowns. As Hawai‘i faces a severe lack of affordable housing and the worst ranked infrastructure in the nation, this legislation will increase funding for highway upgrades, expand affordable housing programs, invest in our rural infrastructure, and more. It also increases funding to fight the opioid epidemic in Hawai‘i and nationwide, and ensures our healthcare workforce, community health centers, and rural and Native Hawaiian health care programs receive funding to continue serving our community.

“There is no greater and more urgent threat to the safety, welfare, and peace of the American people than the threat of a nuclear attack from North Korea. This legislation increases funding for critical ballistic missile defense systems, and nearly triples funding for the Homeland Defense Radar – Hawai‘i to help strengthen the defense of our islands and our people.

“In passing this legislation today, Congress has carried out the bare minimum of its responsibilities, but has by no means set an example of good governance. We cannot continue to govern with brinksmanship and partisan divides, narrowly dodging government shutdowns, and with deals cut behind closed doors, leaving communities across the country hanging in the balance. The American people deserve a Congress that puts people before politics.”

Key provisions for Hawai‘i in this legislation include:

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Education: Increases funding for DOE Impact Aid by $86 million and funding for TRIO by $60 million, increases investment in Head Start by $610 million, and provides a $2.37 billion increase for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program – providing much needed investment in CCDBG programs in Hawai‘i, which currently only cover 11 percent of eligible keiki.

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Transportation and Infrastructure: Increases funding for highway, transit, and TIGER grants that repair infrastructure and contribute to economic growth across the country, and provides $6.9 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans as well as $3 billion for rural water and waste program loans. This funding will be key to improving Hawai‘i’s infrastructure, which has been ranked the worst in the nation.

Military Construction: Allocates $10.091 billion for critical military construction, including funds for Fort Shafter, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Kāneʻohe Bay, Wahiawā, Kunia, and more. The military contributes $14.7 billion to Hawai‘i’s economy and accounts for more than 97,500 jobs and Hawai‘i’s largest industrial plant, the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard.

Missile Defense: Increases Hawai‘i defense radar funding by $39 million in addition to $3.3 billion more for missile defense programs to counter the growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea.
Opioids: Provides $3.2 billion increase in funding for programs to respond to the opioid crisis, including prevention, treatment, surveillance, behavioral health workforce training, and research to develop non-opioid pain medication, as well as FDA and law enforcement activities. In Hawai‘i alone, there are roughly 490,000 active opioid prescriptions—enough for about one third of our state’s population.

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Agriculture: Maintains FY2017 funding levels for USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Alaska Native-Serving and Native Hawaiian-Serving Institutions Education Competitive Grants Program that funds education, applied research, and related community development programs for Native Hawaiians and Alaska Natives.

Support for Veterans: Allocates a $7 billion increase for veterans’ medical and mental health services, medical and prosthetic research, and opioid abuse services. This amount also includes $2 billion for infrastructure improvements at VA facilities and state veterans’ homes. With only one inpatient VA care site to serve Hawai‘i’s 113,000 veterans, these funds will be instrumental in providing accessible and quality healthcare to those who have served our country.

Research: Increases funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $3 million more than the FY 2017 enacted level. This bill also increases funding for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by $234 million. In Hawai‘i, NOAA protects 161 endangered and threatened marine species, including 65 species that are not found anywhere in else in the United States.

Safe and Affordable Housing: Increases funding for the Public Housing Capital Fund, HOME Investment Partnerships, housing for our kūpuna and disabled, and more. Hawai‘i faces a severe affordable housing shortage contributing to the highest per capita rate of homelessness in the country.
Public Safety: Allocates increases for State and Local Law Enforcement Activities, the Urban Area Security Initiative, flood mapping, and allows the CDC to fund gun violence research.

Election Integrity: Provides $380 million in state grants to protect our nation’s elections infrastructure from cyber threats. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard recently introduced legislation to expand on progress in Hawai‘i and 14 other states and require the use of voter-verified paper ballots or a paper ballot backup in federal elections, beginning with 2018 elections.

Environment: Increases funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by $763 million, including increases for clean water and water infrastructure programs, the National Park Service, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since its beginning in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has invested over $250 million to protect public lands and waters in Hawai‘i.

Healthcare: Provides $5.4 billion for Community Health Centers. Hawai‘i is home to 15 CHCs that serve about 150,000 people, including those in low-income, rural, and underserved communities. This bill also provides critical investments in our healthcare workforce; boosts funding for the National Health Service Corps (NHSC), Title VIII Nursing Workforce Development programs, and the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education (CHGME) program; and strengthens rural health care and Native Hawaiian health care programs.

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