Gabbard Tackles COVID-19 Crisis

April 4, 2020, 3:05 PM HST · Updated April 4, 3:05 PM
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US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Courtesy photo. 

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard says she is continuing to work on behalf of Hawai‘i communities who have been impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and “making sure that the needs of our communities are being addressed in the emergency relief bills under consideration before Congress.”

“The coronavirus crisis is impacting us and our communities in ways we could not imagine. From making sure our farmers, rural communities, and homeowners are secure through this crisis, to helping families and workers afford to put food on the table, to standing up against the fear and anti-Asian bigotry surrounding this pandemic, I am continuing to work with leaders in Congress to make sure Hawai‘i’s needs are addressed.” Gabbard said in a press release.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has cosponsored H.Res.908, a resolution which draws attention to the increased anti-Asian bigotry being witnessed during the coronavirus crisis and calls on the Federal government to work with state and local law enforcement to confront and prosecute hate crimes related to this.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has also signed onto letters aimed at addressing the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and protecting our Hawai‘i communities during this difficult time. In the past weeks, she has sent letters to the Administration and Congressional leadership calling for a halt to all foreclosure and eviction proceedings, urging support for SNAP and WIC, as well as additional funding for the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit. She continues to call for direct support for those that are most in need in the relief bills before Congress, including farmers, ranchers, military families, rural communities, those living paycheck to paycheck, and the communities that rely on the tourism industry for their livelihoods.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has continued to work to make sure that much-needed medical supplies, testing, and personal protective equipment (PPE) are readily available and recently sent a letter requesting that the Trump Administration prioritize working with our trading partners to ensure medical providers can obtain needed equipment quickly. She also sent a letter to the Departments of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services calling for the Departments to ensure access to PPE for essential childcare providers.

Background: On March 27, the House passed H.R.748 by voice vote. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, is the third bill passed by Congress as part of its emergency response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The bill includes direct cash payments to Americans, assistance for those who are out of work due to the outbreak, funding for small businesses, hospitals, and health care workers, and state and local governments. The bill’s funding for state and local governments includes at least $1.2 billion for Hawai‘i.

In March, working with Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard sent two letters calling on President Trump to support Hawai‘i’s request for medical equipment, supplies and resources for the state.

Rep. Gabbard has hosted three telephone town hall events, on March 18, March 25, and April 1, in order to update Hawai‘i residents with news about what is being done to confront the pandemic and assist those who are being affected by it. She was joined on these calls by state and federal public officials as well as community leaders to answer questions from across the state.

She has also created a COVID-19 resource webpage on her website as well as sent out regular e-newsletter updates to keep connected with constituents as developments happen.

On March 21, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called for an immediate implementation of a 14-day self-quarantine for all passengers arriving in Hawaiʻi, both visitors and returning residents. The state later announced that a self-quarantine requirement would be implemented on March 26, but Rep. Tulsi Gabbard continued to advocate for an immediate implementation. She also sent a letter calling on the President to issue a minimum two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order — a proven, effective solution to slowing the spread of the virus.

Rep. Gabbard voted to pass the first round of emergency funds to address the novel coronavirus. The first coronavirus emergency funding bill that she helped pass in Congress led to over $750,000 being allocated to 14 community health centers in our district.

Rep. Gabbard voted on March 14 to pass H.R.6201, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which will provide free testing for COVID-19, two weeks of paid sick leave, up to three months paid family and medical leave, unemployment insurance for furloughed workers, food security for those who rely on food stamps, student meals, senior nutrition plans, and food banks, and increase federal Medicaid funds for local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems.

Rep. Gabbard also introduced H.Res. 897, a resolution that would provide an emergency non-taxable Universal Basic Payment of $1,000 per month to all adult Americans until COVID-19 no longer presents a public health emergency. She was the earliest Member of Congress to introduce legislation for a Universal Basic Income-like payment as a temporary economic stimulus package to directly and immediately help Americans as they weather this crisis.

As the virus was first spreading in different parts of the world, Rep. Gabbard called on the Trump Administration to suspend flights from South Korea and Japan given the prevalence of COVID-19 infections in these countries, until they could guarantee all passengers would be tested prior to boarding flights to the United States.

In order to ensure that any treatment developed for COVID-19 is accessible and affordable, Rep. Gabbard joined a letter to President Trump demanding that pharmaceutical companies are not issued exclusive licenses for the production of such treatments or capitalize on drugs that have been funded by taxpayer dollars.

Rep. Gabbard also wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar calling for clear guidelines for state and local governments to receive federal reimbursement for the costs they are incurring as part of their response to this public health crisis.

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