Tulsi Gabbard

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Tulsi Gabbard
Official 114th Congressional photograph of Tulsi Gabbard
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd district
Assumed office
January 3, 2013
Preceded byMazie Hirono
Member of the Honolulu City Council
from the 6th district
In office
January 2, 2011 – August 16, 2012
Preceded byRod Tam
Succeeded byCarol Fukunaga
Member of the Hawaii House of Representatives
from the 42nd district
In office
2002–2004
Preceded byMark Moses
Succeeded byRida Cabanilla
Personal details
Born (1981-04-12) April 12, 1981 (age 37)
Leloaloa, American Samoa, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)
Eduardo Tamayo
(m. 2002; div. 2006)

Abraham Williams (m. 2015)
RelativesMike Gabbard (Father)
EducationHawaii Pacific University (BSBA)
Signature
WebsiteHouse website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service2003–present
RankMajor
UnitHawaii Army National Guard
Battles/warsIraq War
AwardsMeritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Army Achievement Medal[1]

Tulsi Gabbard (/ˈtʌlsi ˈɡæbərd/; born April 12, 1981) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district since 2013. Following her election in 2012, she became the first Samoan American and Hindu member of the United States Congress. She is a member of the Democratic Party.

Gabbard served in a field medical unit of the Hawaii Army National Guard in a combat zone in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and was deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009. She previously served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004. When she was elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives at age 21, Gabbard was the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature. Gabbard was a vice chair of the Democratic National Committee until February 28, 2016, when she resigned to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.

As of 2019, Gabbard supports abortion rights, Medicare for All and same-sex marriage; she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership. She is critical of interventionism in Iraq, Libya, and Syria. She also denounced U.S. involvement in the Yemeni Civil War and is outspoken against intervention in the 2019 Venezuela crisis. Her opposition to removing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad from power by force, the ruling Indian BJP party's interest in her, and her voting and lobbying against LGBT rights prior to 2005 have attracted controversy.

On January 11, 2019, Gabbard announced her campaign for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States in 2020.

Early life and education[edit]

Tulsi Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981, in Leloaloa, Maoputasi County, on American Samoa's main island of Tutuila.[2] She was the fourth of five children[3] born to Carol (née Porter) and Mike Gabbard. In 1983, when Gabbard was two years old, her family moved to Hawaii. Her father is a member of the Hawaii Senate.[4]

Gabbard was raised in a multicultural and multireligious household. Her father is of Samoan and European ancestry and an active lector at his Catholic church. Her mother, who was born in Decatur, Indiana, is of German descent and a practicing Hindu. Tulsi chose Hinduism as her religion while she was a teenager.[5][3][6]

Gabbard was home-schooled through high school except for two years at a missionary academy for girls in the Philippines.[7] She graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a bachelor of science degree in business administration in 2009.[8][9][10]

Personal life[edit]

Gabbard's first name "Tulsi" comes from Sanskrit. Tulsi is the name for "holy basil," a plant sacred in Hinduism.[11] Her siblings also have Hindu Sanskrit-origin names.[3] During her childhood, Tulsi excelled in martial arts, and was interested in gardening. She is known to be a surfer and an accomplished athlete.[12] In 2002, Gabbard was a martial arts instructor.[13] She is a vegetarian and a Hindu who follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[7] a religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu in the sixteenth century. She especially appreciates the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide,[14] and used it when she took the Oath of office in 2013.[15][16] Gabbard describes herself as a karma yogi.[17]

Gabbard has said that she is pleased that her election gives hope to young American Hindus who "can be open about their faith, and even run for office, without fear of being discriminated against or attacked because of their religion".[18]

In 2002 Gabbard married Eduardo Tamayo.[19][20] They divorced on June 5, 2006. She cites "the stresses war places on military spouses and families" as a reason for their divorce.[21]

In February 2015 Gabbard and freelance cinematographer and editor Abraham Williams became engaged; they married on April 9, 2015.[22]

Political career[edit]

Hawaii House of Representatives (2002–2004)[edit]

Elections[edit]

In 2002, after redistricting, Gabbard (as Tulsi Tamayo) ran to represent the 42nd House District of the Hawaii House of Representatives. She won the four-candidate Democratic primary with a plurality of 48% of the vote over Rida Cabanilla (30%), Dolfo Ramos (18%), and Gerald Vidal (4%).[23] Gabbard then defeated Republican Alfonso Jimenez in the general election, 65%–35%.[24]

In 2004, Gabbard filed for reelection, but then volunteered for Army National Guard service in Iraq. Cabanilla, who filed to run against her, called on the incumbent to resign because she would not be able to represent her district from Iraq.[25] Gabbard chose not to campaign for a second term,[26] and Cabanilla won the Democratic primary, 64%–25%.[27]

Tenure[edit]

In 2002, at the age of 21, Gabbard had become the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii's history and the youngest woman ever elected to a U.S. state legislature.[28][29][28] She represented the Oahu 42nd District, which covers Waipahu, Honolulu, and Ewa Beach.

Honolulu City Council (2011–2012)[edit]

Elections[edit]

After returning home from her second deployment to the Middle East in 2009, Gabbard ran for a seat on the Honolulu City Council.[30] Incumbent City Councilman Rod Tam, of the 6th district, decided to retire in order to run for Mayor of Honolulu. In the ten-candidate nonpartisan open primary in September 2010, Gabbard finished first with 33% of the vote.[31] In the November 2 runoff election, she defeated Sesnita Moepono, 58%–42%, to win the seat.[32]

Tenure[edit]

As a Honolulu City Councilwoman, Gabbard introduced a measure to help food truck vendors by loosening parking restrictions.[33] She also introduced Bill 54, a measure that authorized city workers to confiscate personal belongings stored on public property with 24 hours' notice to its owner.[34][35] After overcoming opposition from the ACLU[36] and Occupy Hawai'i,[37] Bill 54 passed and became City Ordinance 1129.

On April 30, 2011, Gabbard informed her constituents that she was resuming the use of her birth name, Tulsi Gabbard, and that there would be no cost to city taxpayers for reprinting City Council materials containing her name.[19] She resigned from the council on August 16, 2012, to focus on her congressional campaign.[38]

United States House of Representatives (2013–present)[edit]

Elections[edit]

2012
Gabbard in 2012

In early 2011, Mazie Hirono, the incumbent Democratic U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district, announced that she would run for the United States Senate. Soon after that, in May 2011, Gabbard announced her candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives seat.[39] She was endorsed by the Sierra Club,[40] Emily's List[41] and VoteVets.org.[42] The Democratic Mayor of Honolulu, Mufi Hannemann, was the best-known candidate in the six-way primary, but Gabbard won with 62,882 votes or 55% of the total; Hannemann finished second and took 39,176 votes or 34%. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser described her win as an "improbable rise from a distant underdog to victory."[43] Gabbard resigned from the City Council on August 16 to prevent the cost of holding a special election.[44][45]

As the Democratic nominee, Gabbard traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina, and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[46] She credited grassroots support as the reason for her come-from-behind win in the primary.[47] Gabbard won the general election on November 6, 2012, defeating Republican Kawika Crowley, by approximately 130,000 votes, or 168,503 to 40,707 votes (80.6%−19.4%).[48]

2014

In December 2012, Gabbard applied to be considered for appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by the death of Daniel Inouye,[49] but despite support from prominent mainland Democrats,[50][51] she was not among the three candidates selected by the Democratic Party of Hawaii.[52]

Gabbard was reelected on November 8, 2014, defeating Crowley again, by roughly 110,000 votes, or 142,010 to 33,630 votes (78.7%–18.6%); Joe Kent garnered 4,693 votes (2.6%) as an independent Libertarian.[53]

2016

Gabbard was reelected on November 8, 2016, defeating her Republican opponent, Angela Kaaihue, by about 130,000 votes, or 170,848 to 39,668 votes (81.2%–18.8%).[54]

2018

Gabbard was reelected in 2018.[55] She defeated her Republican opponent, Brian Evans, by around 110,000 votes, or 153,271 to 44,850 votes (77.4%–22.6%).

Tenure[edit]

Gabbard is the first Samoan-American voting member of the United States Congress[56] and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress.[57][58]

2013–14
Gabbard speaks at the 135th National Guard Association of the United States conference in 2013

In her first term, Gabbard introduced the Helping Heroes Fly Act (H.R. 1344 (113th Congress)) seeking to improve airport security screenings for severely wounded veterans. It passed Congress and was signed into law by President Obama.[59][60][61] She also led an effort to pass legislation to assist victims of military sexual trauma.[62][63][64]

2015–16

Along with Senator Hirono, Gabbard introduced a bill to award Filipino and Filipino American veterans who fought in World War II the Congressional Gold Medal.[65] The bill passed Congress[66] and was signed by Obama into law in December 2016.[67]

Gabbard also introduced Talia's Law, to prevent child abuse and neglect on military bases. It passed Congress and was signed by Obama into law in December 2016.[68][69][70]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

Democratic National Committee[edit]

Gabbard, a Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee, was critical of chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz's decision to hold only six debates during the 2016 Democratic Party primary season, compared with 26 in 2008 and 15 in 2004.[77][78] Along with Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak and two candidates, Gabbard called for more debates, appearing on multiple news outlets to express her dissatisfaction with the reduction in the number. Later she was either "disinvited" or asked to "consider not coming" to the Democratic debate in Las Vegas as a consequence. In a phone interview with the New York Times, Gabbard spoke of an unhealthy atmosphere and the feeling that she had "checked [her free speech] at the door" in taking the job.[79]

Gabbard resigned as DNC Vice Chair on February 28, 2016, in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.[80][81] She was the first Congresswoman to endorse Sanders.[82] and later gave the nominating speech putting his name forward at the 2016 Democratic National Convention.[83]

In July 2016, Gabbard launched a petition to end the Democratic Party's process of appointing superdelegates in the nomination process.[84] She endorsed Keith Ellison for DNC chair in the 2017 chairmanship elections.[85]

Syria trip[edit]

In January 2017, Gabbard met with President Bashar al-Assad in what she said was an unplanned meeting during a trip to Syria and Lebanon.[86][87][88] Gabbard said in a press release that the trip was approved by the House Ethics Committee and sponsored by Arab American Community Center for Economic and Social Services (AACCESS-Ohio).[89] The chairman of AACCESS, Bassem Khawam, accompanied Gabbard on the trip, as did Elie Khawam.[90]

Gabbard "reportedly declined to inform House leadership in advance, met with Bashar al-Assad, toured with officials from a Lebanese political party that actively supports Assad, and received funding from an American organization that counts one of those same officials as its executive director."[91] She later paid for the trip with her own money.[92] On February 7, 2017, it was reported that Gabbard failed to comply with House ethics rules, as she had not filed the required disclosure forms by the deadline, but according to her office she complied with House ethics rules by filing her post-trip financial report by the deadline.[92][93] Remaining forms and her itinerary were submitted on February 8, 2017.[94]

2020 presidential campaign[edit]

Tulsi Gabbard 2020 presidential campaign logo

On February 2, 2019, Gabbard officially launched her 2020 presidential campaign, saying that it was in the "spirit of service above self" that she announced her candidacy.[95] CNN described her as running on "an anti-interventionalist" foreign policy platform and a populist economic one.[95] Politico described the campaign as in disarray, as campaign manager Rania Batrice left the campaign after her unplanned announcement. Along with the recent conflict surrounding her use of the term "religious bigotry" (in speaking of Brian Buescher's confirmation hearings), and the Daily Kos's decision to fund her opponent for her House seat, Gabbard also apologized for some of her former positions.[96]

Gabbard was mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016,[97][98] and that year was assigned as Bernie Sanders's running mate in California for any write-in votes for Sanders.[99]

Military service (2003–present)[edit]

Gabbard at the ceremony of her promotion to major on October 12, 2015

In April 2003, while serving in the State Legislature, Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[100]

In July 2004, Gabbard asked to deploy with her Hawaii Army National Guard unit, volunteering for a 12-month tour in Iraq, where she served in a field medical unit as a specialist in a combat zone with the 29th Support Battalion medical company.[101][102] She learned that she would not be able to serve with her unit and perform her duties as a legislator, and thus chose not to campaign for a second term in office.[26][103] Gabbard served at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq.[104] While on a rest-and-relaxation tour in August 2005, she presented Hawaii's condolences to the government of the United Kingdom regarding the 7/7 London bombings.[102] She served in Iraq until 2005.[105]

In 2006, Gabbard began serving as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, DC.[106]

In March 2007, while working for Akaka, Gabbard graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy.[107] She was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy's 50-year history.[28][106] She was commissioned as a second lieutenant and assigned again to the 29th Brigade Special Troops Battalion of the Hawaii Army National Guard, this time to serve as an Army Military Police officer.[citation needed][108]

She was deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009.[109][101][105]

In May 2010, Gabbard was one of thirty finalists for a White House Fellowship[110] and one of three finalists from Hawaii,[111] but was not selected as a fellow.[112] In June 2011, Gabbard visited Indonesia[113] as part of a peacekeeping training with the Indonesian Army.[114]

On October 12, 2015, Gabbard was promoted from captain to major at a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akaka administered the oath of office to the new major.[115][116] She continues to serve as a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[117]

On August 7, 2018, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported that the Hawaii Army National Guard had instructed Gabbard that a video of her in uniform on her VoteTulsi Facebook page did not comply with military ethics rules. Gabbard's campaign removed the video and added a disclaimer to the website's banner image of Gabbard in uniform in a veterans' cemetery that the image does not imply an endorsement from the military. A similar situation had happened during a previous Gabbard congressional campaign. A spokeswoman for Gabbard said the campaign would work closely with the Department of Defense to ensure compliance with all regulations.[118]

Nonprofit organizations and associations[edit]

Gabbard and her father co-founded Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition, an environmental educational group.[40][119]

Gabbard was also a cofounder of the non-profit Stand Up For America (SUFA),[120] which she and her father co-founded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[121] SUFA's website profiled Gabbard[122] and hosted letters from her sent during her deployments overseas.[123][124] In September 2010, SUFA's website came under criticism for promoting Gabbard's campaign for the Honolulu City Council. Gabbard said the improper addition "was an honest mistake from a volunteer," and the problematic page and link were immediately removed.[120]

Controversies[edit]

In January 2019, The Intercept published an article claiming Gabbard has links with Hindu nationalist organization Vishwa Hindu Parishad of America, and the Hindu American Foundation.[125] Gabbard had previously withdrawn her participation from events due to their links with Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the most notable being the World Hindu Congress, “due to ethical reasons arising from participating in partisan politics of India in America”.[126] An earlier version of the Intercept's article searched Gabbard's donor list for "names ... of Hindu origin" to "show Gabbard’s broad base of support in the Hindu-American community".[125] In an op-ed, Gabbard criticized this as religious bigotry, saying that Christians would not be subject to such scrutiny based on their names. She also condemned religious intolerance in politics, media, and society in general.[127] The Intercept removed the sentence with an apology, saying that it was not intended "to question the motives of those political donors" and apologizing "for any such implication".[125] Gabbard also rebutted claims she is a "Hindu nationalist", calling it "religious bigotry", and writing "My meetings with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India's democratically elected leader, have been highlighted as 'proof' of this and portrayed as somehow being out of the ordinary or somehow suspect, even though President Obama, Secretary Clinton, President Trump and many of my colleagues in Congress have met with and worked with him."[127]

Political positions[edit]

Gabbard speaking at a luncheon in February 2013

Campaign finance[edit]

In 2017, Gabbard pledged not to accept money from political action committees.[128] The Intercept reported in October 2018 that Gabbard was one of a handful of members of Congress who had pledged not to accept corporate campaign donations.[129][130]

Economy[edit]

Banking[edit]

In 2012, Gabbard supported the reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall Act.[131]

In 2018, Gabbard voted with the minority against a bill that she said worked to undo state-level legislation seeking to curb maximum interest rates on loans. She said that interest rates could reach an annual percentage rate (APR) of 459% in Hawaii, which has no such state-level legislation.[132]

Federal minimum wage[edit]

In 2017, Gabbard supported a bill to increase the hourly minimum wage to $15 by 2024.[133]

Education[edit]

Gabbard supports making community college tuition-free for all Americans while making all four-year colleges tuition-free for students with an annual family income of $125,000 or less (funded by a new tax on financial transactions). She backed Senator Bernie Sanders's proposal to cut or eliminate higher education tuition for most Americans.[134]

Environment[edit]

Gabbard at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Hawaii in September 2016

In her 2012 run for Congress, Gabbard received the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter's endorsement in the Democratic primary election.[135] The Sierra Club endorsed her for her reelection in 2014, citing her as a champion of Hawaiian families' health, air, food and water and a clear leader on environmental issues.[136]

Gabbard cited environmental impact as a reason she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[137]

In December 2016, Gabbard, along with approximately 2,000 U.S. military veterans dubbed "The Veterans Stand for Standing Rock," traveled to North Dakota to join the protests against the construction of the final leg of the Dakota Access Pipeline near the Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Indian Reservations.[138][139]

In September 2017, Gabbard introduced legislation seeking to transition the United States to 100% clean renewable energy by 2035. The bill would require electric utilities to transition to 80% renewable energy resources by 2027, and 100% renewable by 2035, while additionally setting similar vehicle emission standards goals and banning hydraulic fracturing.[140][134]

In November 2018, Gabbard spoke in favor of a Green New Deal, which was at the time a draft resolution to task a special House committee with coming up with legislation to eliminate fossil fuel use from the economy within a decade. In February 2019, Gabbard expressed concerns about the version of the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey.[141]

Foreign policy[edit]

Gabbard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

Counterterrorism[edit]

Gabbard has opposed US involvement in regime change, calling it counterproductive to defeating ISIL, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.[142][143] She criticized the Obama Administration for "refusing" to say that "Islamic extremists" are waging a war against the United States.[144]

In 2017, Gabbard proposed the Stop Arming Terrorists Act "to force the C.I.A. to stop aiding militants in Syria" by banning federal funding for Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and ISIL.[145][146][147] Announcing the legislation, she said: "If you or I gave money, weapons or support to al-Qaeda or ISIS, we would be thrown in jail. Yet the U.S. government has been violating this law for years, quietly supporting allies and partners of al-Qaeda, ISIL ... and other terrorist groups with money, weapons and intelligence support, in their fight to overthrow the Syrian government."[148]

Egypt[edit]

Gabbard met with U.S.-backed Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in November 2015 to discuss "the threat of ISIS and Islamic extremist groups, how to strengthen the U.S.-Egypt relationship to ensure stability in Egypt, and the importance of religious freedom". She subsequently spoke positively of el-Sisi in a public statement, saying he showed "great courage and leadership in taking on [...] extreme Islamist ideology" while calling on the U.S. to "recognize President el-Sisi and his leadership [...] and stand with him in this fight against ISIS, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, and other Islamic extremists who are our common enemy". This statement has been criticized due to the authoritarian nature of el-Sisi's rule.[149][150][131]

India[edit]

Gabbard and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New York on September 28, 2014

Gabbard supports a strong US-India relationship. She has repeatedly praised Indian prime minister Narendra Modi,[151][152] describing him as "a person who cares deeply about these issues [defense, renewable energy, bilateral trade, and global environmental concerns] and as a leader whose example and dedication to the people he serves should be an inspiration to elected officials everywhere."[151] She has said that the U.S. decision to deny a visa to Modi over allegations of his involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots was a "great blunder" as it could have undermined the US-India relationship (which she said was important especially in regard to the war on terrorism, among other reasons) had he used it as an excuse to reject a strong relationship with America.[151]

Gabbard also criticized the arrest of Indian consular officer Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and perjury.[152] In 2013, she joined some of her colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in opposing a House resolution that called for "religious freedom and related human rights to be included in the United States-India Strategic Dialogue and for such issues to be raised directly with federal and state Indian government officials". The bill admonished India to protect "the rights and freedoms of religious minorities" and specifically referenced incidents of mass violence against India's Muslim minority that took place under Modi's watch. Gabbard justified her opposition by saying the resolution would weaken the friendship between India and the US and citing the bill's timing as interfering with India's elections, while emphasizing the need for US to stand for religious freedom. She later also said that "there was a lot of misinformation that surrounded the event in 2002."[153][151][154][155]

In an NDTV India interview, she was asked about her 2012 opponent's claim that electing a Hindu to the US Congress was incompatible with the US Constitution. She also responded to accusations that she was close to the Bharatiya Janata Party, denying any such proximity.[156]

Iran[edit]

Gabbard voted in favor of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an agreement with Iran which imposed restraints on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.[157]

US congressional delegation at Halifax International Security Forum 2014

Israel[edit]

In March 2015, she said that United States’ relationship with Israel "must rise above the political fray, as America continues to stand with Israel as her strongest ally."[86] In January 2017, Gabbard voted against a House resolution condemning the U.N. Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements built on the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank. She said: "While I remain concerned about aspects of the U.N. resolution, I share the Obama administration’s reservation about the harmful impact Israeli settlement activity has on the prospects for peace."[86]

Poland and Ukraine[edit]

On April 25, 2018, 57 members of the House of Representatives, including Gabbard,[158] released a condemnation of Holocaust distortion in Ukraine and Poland.[159] They criticized Poland’s new Holocaust law and Ukraine’s 2015 memory laws glorifying Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and its leaders, such as Roman Shukhevych.[158]

Pakistan[edit]

In October 2016, she criticized elements within the Pakistani government, saying, "People within the Pakistani government continue to provide tacit and overt support for terrorism. This is not new; this pattern of attacks has been occurring now for the past 15 years, and it must end. That's why I've continued working in Congress to cut back US assistance for Pakistan and increase pressure on Pakistan to stop this violence. In the past, the US government took steps to increase pressure on Pakistan, and it's time to revisit that approach." She expressed "solidarity with India in the face of these attacks" (referring to the 2016 Uri attack).[160]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Gabbard strongly opposed a $1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia because of her opposition to what she calls Wahhabi Salafism.[161][162]

In November 2018, after Trump indicated the US would not sanction Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi, Gabbard tweeted at Trump, "being Saudi Arabia’s bitch is not 'America First.'"[163]

Syria[edit]

Gabbard has cited US "regime-change" involvement in Syria as a source of the Syrian refugee crisis.[164] In 2013 Gabbard opposed the Obama administration's proposed military strikes in Syria.[165] She later introduced legislation to block U.S. military action against Assad.[166] She claimed that the United States had "been waging a regime change war in Syria since 2011. Central to that war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad, along with our allies Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Qatar, has been providing direct and indirect support to terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda".[167]

In 2013 Gabbard opposed the Obama administration's proposed military strikes in Syria, arguing that intervention in Syria would go against America's national security, international credibility, economic interest, and moral center.[168] She later introduced legislation to block U.S. military action against Assad.[169] She said that US involvement in the Syrian Civil War was "causing people to flee their country".[164]

Gabbard was one of three members of Congress to vote against House resolution 121, which condemned the government of Syria and "other parties to the conflict" for war crimes and crimes against humanity,"[170] saying that though Assad is a "brutal dictator," the resolution was "a War Bill—a thinly veiled attempt to use the rationale of 'humanitarianism' as a justification for overthrowing the Syrian government". She explained that the resolution "urges the administration to create 'additional mechanisms for the protection of civilians', which is coded language for the creation of a so-called no-fly/safe zone." Gabbard has rejected suggestions for the creation of such a zone in Syria, stating that it would likely not work—costing too much money and too many troops while risking confrontation with Russia.[171][172] In November 2016 she met with United States president-elect Donald Trump in an effort to convince him of her point of view on the safe zone.[173]

In April 2017, after the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack killed at least 74 civilians and injured hundreds more, she called for a U.N. investigation into the attack and the prosecution of Bashar al-Assad by the International Criminal Court should he be found responsible.[174][175] After Trump ordered the 2017 Shayrat missile strike targeting the Syrian airfield believed to be the source of the attack, Gabbard called the strike reckless and expressed skepticism that Assad was responsible for the attack,[176] which led to sharp criticism from former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean as well as Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden.[175][177] In February 2019, Gabbard said there was "no disputing the fact that [Assad] has used chemical weapons and other weapons against his people."[178]

Torture[edit]

In a television interview in December 2014, Gabbard said she was "conflicted" about the report published that week on CIA use of torture in interrogations, saying that "the jury [wa]s still out on the report". She also said that while she abhorred torture, were there an imminent danger to American citizens, she, as president, "would do everything in [her] power to keep the American people safe."[179][180] Months later in early 2015, she voted for H.R. 1735, including the amendment to the 2016 NDAA, codifying President Obama’s executive order banning enhanced interrogation techniques.[181] In 2019, she clarified her position by saying she would "continue to strongly oppose torture and the use of enhanced interrogation techniques."[182]

Trans-Pacific Partnership[edit]

Gabbard strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and led protests against it.[183] A member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, she criticized both the deal itself and the secrecy surrounding the negotiations, arguing that it would largely benefit multinational corporations at the expense of American workers while harming the environment.[184]

Venezuela[edit]

During the 2019 Venezuelan presidential crisis Gabbard tweeted that the United States should stay out of Venezuela: "The United States needs to stay out of Venezuela. Let the Venezuelan people determine their future. We don't want other countries to choose our leaders so we have to stop trying to choose theirs”.[185][186]

Yemen[edit]

Gabbard has called for ending U.S. support for the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, saying the U.S. is complicit in a humanitarian disaster.[134] In September 2018, she supported a legislation invoking the War Powers Resolution of 1973 to stop U.S. involvement in the war.[187]

Health care[edit]

Gabbard supports universal health care.[188][189] She co-sponsored a bill that would create a "government-run system to provide health care for all residents of the United States", in part paid for by hiking taxes on the wealthy and taxing financial transactions.[134]

Immigration[edit]

In 2015, Gabbard voted with Congressional Republicans in favor of a bill requiring "extreme vetting" of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. The Obama administration said the bill would effectively stop the resettlement of Syrian refugees in the United States.[190][191][192] That same year, she called for a suspension of the visa waiver program for European passport holders.[193][194]

Labeling GMOs[edit]

Gabbard supports labeling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).[195] In 2013, she sponsored legislation to require GMO-labeling.[196] In 2016, she voted against a GMO-labeling bill, saying that it was too weak.[197]

Social issues and civil rights[edit]

Civil Rights Luncheon at the 2013 AFGE annual Legislative Conference

Gun rights[edit]

Standing with fellow House Democrats to demand a vote on gun control measures

Gabbard has co-sponsored bills that would ban assault weapons and institute background checks for all gun purchases.[134]

LGBT issues[edit]

Gabbard previously opposed both civil unions and same-sex marriage.[21][198] She worked with her father's PAC, The Alliance for Traditional Marriage, to pass a constitutional amendment "to protect traditional marriage". Campaigning for her first political office a few years later, she cited her experience with her father's political action committee, which opposed pro-LGBT lawmakers and laws and promoted conversion therapy.[199][200] In her campaign for the Hawaii legislature in 2002, she vowed to "pass a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage."[201][202]

As a Hawaii state legislator in 2004, Gabbard argued against civil unions, saying, "To try to act as if there is a difference between 'civil unions' and same-sex marriage is dishonest, cowardly and extremely disrespectful to the people of Hawaii who have already made overwhelmingly clear our position on this issue... As Democrats we should be representing the views of the people, not a small number of homosexual extremists."[21] She opposed Hawaii House Bill 1024, which would have established legal parity between same-sex couples in civil unions and married straight couples, and led a protest against the bill outside the room where the House Judiciary Committee held the hearing.[203] The same year, she expressed her opposition to Hawaii undertaking research on LGBT students, arguing that it would be a violation of their privacy and that "many parents would see the study as an indirect attempt by government to encourage young people to question their sexual orientation".[204][205] She also disputed that Hawaii schools were rampant with anti-gay discrimination.[204]

In 2012, Gabbard said that she believed same-sex marriage should be legalized throughout the United States.[206] She publicly apologized for her prior anti-LGBT stand in 2012 and has since worked to advance LGBT rights.[207] She credited her tours of duty in the Middle East for her change in views.[21][208] She co-sponsored The Equality Act. The Human Rights Campaign gave her a score of 100 for her votes during the 115th Congress, with scores of 88 and 92 for the previous two sessions, respectively.[209] She has opposed both the Defense of Marriage Act and a proposed state constitutional amendment to define marriage as between a woman and a man.[210] In June 2015, she issued a statement supporting Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, arguing that the United States was not a theocracy.[211][212][213]

After launching her presidential campaign in January 2019, Gabbard apologized for her past anti-LGBT rights positions and statements, saying that her views had changed as her experience outside of a socially conservative home grew.[214]

Religious freedom[edit]

During Brian C. Buescher's confirmation hearing for U.S. District Court in Nebraska, Gabbard wrote an op-ed on the Hill's Congress Blog arguing that while she opposed Buescher's nomination, opposing him on the grounds of his association with the Roman Catholic Church or the Knights of Columbus amounted to religious bigotry[215] and violated Article VI of the US Constitution.[216]

Reproductive rights[edit]

Gabbard supports reproductive rights.[217][218] She opposed abortion earlier in her career, but changed her mind.[12][134][131] Gabbard voted against a proposal banning abortion after the 20th week of pregnancy.[134]

Trump administration[edit]

On November 21, 2016, Gabbard became the second Democrat (after Michelle Rhee) to meet with President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team at Trump Tower.[219] She described the meeting as "frank and positive" and said she accepted the meeting to influence Trump before Republicans grew in influence and escalated the war to overthrow the Syrian government.[220] She later called the Trump administration's 2017 Shayrat missile strike reckless and "short-sighted."[174]

Gabbard did not join the 169 congressional Democrats who signed a letter of opposition to Stephen Bannon's appointment as Trump's chief strategist,[221][222] but she joined 182 other colleagues to co-sponsor a bill to remove him from the National Security Council.[223]

Gabbard vehemently criticized the 2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal[162][224] and the administration's decision not to sanction Saudi Arabia over the killing of Jamal Khashoggi.[163]

Awards and honors[edit]

On November 25, 2013, Gabbard received the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award at a ceremony at the Institute of Politics at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government for her efforts on behalf of veterans.[225]

On March 26, 2014, Elle honored Gabbard, with others, at the Italian Embassy in the United States during its annual "Women in Washington Power List".[226]

On July 15, 2015, Gabbard received the Friend of the National Parks Award from the National Parks Conservation Association.[227]

In her role with the Hawaii Army National Guard, Gabbard has been awarded the Meritorious Service Medal[228], the Army Commendation Medal with bronze oak leaf device, the Army Achievement Medal with bronze oak leaf device, and the Army Combat Medical Badge.[175]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  179. ^ "US Should Not Be Policing the World: US Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard". NDTV. December 17, 2014. 16:00. Retrieved February 16, 2019. The jury is still out on this report. [...] Clearly we would not like to see any human, any person around the world being treated inhumanely. On the other side, I can understand that any of us, if we were in a situation where our family, our community, our state, or our country is in a place where, let's say, in an hour, a nuclear bomb or an attack will go off unless this information was found, I believe that if I were the president of the United States that I would do everything in my power to keep the American people safe.
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  211. ^ "Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Applauds SCOTUS Decision on Marriage Equality". house.gov. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
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  228. ^ http://gabbard.house.gov/about

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Mazie Hirono
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's 2nd congressional district

2013–present
Incumbent
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Lois Frankel
United States Representatives by seniority
207th
Succeeded by
Denny Heck