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Gabbard urges support for military sexual assault survivors

MEDIA RELEASE

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has voted in the House Armed Services Committee to advance the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2015.

During the more than 14 hours of debate Wednesday, she made an impassioned argument for including reforms to the military justice system that would remove a commander’s authority to determine whether a sexual assault case should be prosecuted.

“Through this whole conversation about this epidemic of sexual assault in the military, the voice that is not often heard enough is the voices of those servicemembers who have been through this,,” said Gabbard during debate over the NDAA in the House Armed Services Committee. “When you speak to them one-on-one, they tell you that the number one change that will make a difference – it won’t solve this complicated issue, but it will make a difference – is taking this decision-making authority outside of the chain of command.

“This will not solve the entire problem. This is not the silver bullet. There is not one that exists. I don’t believe that. But this will create a significant change to this problem that we have faced for decades. My concern is that when Congress shifts its attention to another issue, will we have a system that is in place that will hold people accountable and that will maintain this fair, transparent, and independent system that will bring about justice?”

Last year, Gabbard and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI) introduced military justice reform legislation in the House. Their bill received wide bipartisan support in the House, including Democratic and Republican leadership.

Gabbard also successfully passed amendments to the NDAA regarding missile defense for Hawaii, civil liberties protections in cyber systems, US strategy in the Asia-Pacific region, which would:

* Require the Missile Defense Agency to report on keeping the Aegis Ashore missile defense test system permanently at the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, and converting it from a test site to a full-time operational site for the defense of Hawaii

* Improve accountability of DOD cybersecurity systems, calling for the Department to incorporate new privacy and civil liberties protections into its cyber systems

* Increase accountability for Department of Defense funds used to combat drug trafficking

* And was an original cosponsor of a bipartisan amendment proposed by Representatives Madeleine Bordallo (GU-0), Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) and Randy Forbes (VA-04) that calls for a comprehensive U.S strategy in the Asia-Pacific region

The NDAA will go to the full House for consideration later this month.

Gabbard Reiterates Call for Federal GE Food Labeling

Following news of the first state law to require labeling for genetically engineered (GE) food, Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has reiterated her call for a Federal labeling law. Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin indicated he would sign a GE food labeling bill into law on May 8.

“This is a very simple issue. People have a right to know what is in the food they eat and feed their families. I commend Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin for his support for GE food labeling legislation,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, who is an original cosponsor of the bipartisan Genetically Engineered Food Right-to-Know Act (H.R. 1699). “Labeling GE food will provide consumers with the straightforward, transparent information they need to make informed decisions about their food. Congress must act immediately on the legislation I have co-sponsored that will create clear, consistent labeling standards across the country.”

More than 1.5 million Americans have filed comments with the FDA urging it to label GE foods, and national surveys have shown that more than 90 percent of people support it. Currently, 64 countries around the world have mandatory labeling laws.

The FDA already requires labeling of more than 3,000 ingredients, additives and processes, but it has resisted labels for GE foods. Changing this outdated policy would add the consumer-demanded GE food label to that robust list; a step which would not be cost-prohibitive for companies or consumers.

Gabbard Honors King Kamehameha in the U.S. House

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives in honor of the annual Kamehameha Day ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. Each year, in order to use the Capitol facilities for the celebration, a resolution must be passed by the House and Senate.

Gabbard introduced H. Con. Res. 83 this year to authorize the use of Emancipation Hall in the Capitol Visitors Center, which houses a statue of King Kamehameha I, for the event.

“For the last 44 years we have celebrated Kamehameha Day here in our nation’s capital,” Gabbard said on the House floor in a speech calling on her colleagues to pass H. Con. Res. 83 and continue this tradition. “Kamehameha, also known as Kamehameha the Great, was a skilled and intelligent military leader, monarch, and statesman. He established his reputation and dynasty by uniting all of Hawai‘i under one rule, thereby bringing and ensuring peace to the islands and protection to his people during a time of western colonialism.

“In 1871, Kamehameha Day was established to celebrate and honor one of Hawaii’s greatest leaders. Today, it is observed as a state holiday, attracting tourists from around the world, filled with parades and lei draping at the statues that exist in his honor. One of these statues is proudly displayed here in Emancipation Hall of the Capitol Visitors Center. Kamehameha is depicted with a spear in his left hand as a reminder that he brought wars to an end. His right hand is extended with an open palm as a gesture of the aloha spirit.”

Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa (HI-01) is an original co-sponsor of the legislation, which is supported by the full Hawaii congressional delegation.

Gabbard Supports Special Counsel to Investigate IRS Targeting of Non-Profits

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has voted against a bill (H. Res. 574) holding Lois Lerner, former Director of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Exempt Organizations, in contempt of Congress, upholding her constitutional right to plead the fifth.

The House passed the measure. She voted in favor of a separate bill (H. Res. 565) to call on Attorney General Eric Holder, Jr. to appoint a special counsel to investigate the targeting of conservative non-profit groups by the IRS.

“I voted against holding Ms. Lerner in contempt because I believe that every American, including Ms. Lerner, has a constitutional right to plead the fifth. However, I strongly disagree with Ms. Lerner’s decision to do so. I believe that she should testify and shed light on information she may have about illegal IRS targeting. By refusing to testify, Ms. Lerner is contributing to the mistrust the American people have in government. If wrongdoing occurred with her knowledge, she has a responsibility to convey what exactly happened so that those responsible can be held accountable. Since Ms. Lerner will not testify, this special counsel will conduct an investigation and present the facts. The American people have a right to know the facts, whatever they may be, and Congress and the IRS need to understand how to prevent this from happening again,” Gabbard said.

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