The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused an ongoing public health and economic crisis in our Hawai'i and throughout the world. As of May 29, 2020, I had cosponsored 26 bills and led or cosigned 101 joint congressional letters in response to the pandemic. These efforts will help facilitate the federal response to confront our public health crisis, alleviate the economic crisis, provide tools for our keiki to learn remotely, ensure the safety of our essential workforce and prepare our country for any future public health crises.
Below are examples of some actions I have taken in Congress in response to this crisis.
Addressing the Public Health Crisis
May 19, 3030: Cosponsored H.R. 6807, the Vote Safe Act, which would guarantee all Americans the right to safely vote by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full text available here.
April 23, 2020: Voted for the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provided $483 billion to support our medical providers, expand COVID-19 testing nationwide and increase funding for small business assistance programs. A detailed section-by-section summary can be found here.
March 25, 2020: Cosponsored H.Res. 906, calling on the President to invoke the Defense Production Act to mobilize private industry to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 test kits and protective equipment for health care providers. Text available here.
March 25, 2020: Cosponsored H.R. 6319, to provide better oversight of federal aid related to COVID-19. This bill would establish a Congressional COVID-19 Aid Oversight Panel to review the use and impact of federal aid in addressing the COVID-19 emergency. Text available here.
March 14, 2020: Voted for second emergency measure to address the severe impacts of COVID-19 on the personal health, safety and financial security of Americans. This measure will assure paid sick leave, confirm free coronavirus testing, support stronger unemployment benefits, expand food assistance for vulnerable children and families, protect front-line health workers and deliver additional funding to states for the ongoing economic consequences of the pandemic.
March 3, 2020: Voted for $8.3 billion emergency supplemental funding measure to rapidly accelerate development of a vaccine against COVID-19, get dramatically more test kits our into communities, give healthcare workers the equipment they need, provide aid to state and local governments which are shouldering most of the front-line efforts and extend emergency loans to small businesses and non-profits.
Alleviating the Social and Economic Crises
May 8, 2020: Cosponsored H.R. 6514, the Worker Health Coverage Protection Act, which would subsidize COBRA premiums for workers laid off or furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full text available here.
April 23, 2020:Testified before the House Small Business Committee to explain the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Hawai‘i small businesses and advocate for additional assistance to the tourism and hospitality industry.
April 10, 2020: Cosponsored H.R. 6384, the Community Meals Fund, which would award grants to nonprofits so they could partner with small and mid-sized restaurants for the preparation and distribution of food to children, individuals, seniors and families who need it most. Text available here.
April 6, 2020: Joint letter to USDA calling for an immediate expansion of the Online Purchasing Pilot for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as well as to include more retailers in the program.
April 3, 2020: Cosponsored H.R. 6240, the All Dependent Children Count Act, which would expand the definition of dependent, for the purpose of the recovery rebates, to include students up to age 24 and permanently disabled adults. Text available here.
April 1, 2020: Joint letter to the Treasury Department, Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration and Internal Revenue Service urging all to automatically send cash payments to Supplemental Security Income beneficiaries and veterans receiving pensions rather than waiting for individuals to request a payment.
March 30, 2020: Joint letter to the Department of Housing & Urban Development, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services urging them to help the homeless and subsidized housing recipients during this pandemic.
March 27, 2020: Voted for the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. It provides immediate help to workers and struggling small businesses, as well as supplemental funding for those on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. A broad summary of the CARES Act is available here. A more detailed section-by-section summary can be found here.
May 19, 2020: Joined Hawai‘i Congressional Delegation colleagues in letter to the US Department of Agriculture Secretary urging him to include additional specialty crops in the USDA’s Coronavirus Food Assistance Program.
May 13, 2020: Wrote the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the need for pre-boarding screening requirements for passenger flying into Hawai‘i. More information available here.
April 24, 2020: Original cosponsor of H.R. 6623, the COVID-19 Language Access Act. This bill would require federal agencies to translate any COVID-19 information prepared for the general public into each of certain languages, including languages critical to our community in Hawai'i such as Tagalog, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Laotian, Cambodian, and Korean, among others. Full text available here.
April 21, 2020: Original cosponsor of H.R. 6592, the Coronavirus Relief for States Act. This bill would provide $500 billion of federal relief for State governments, critical for States with balanced budget requirements such as Hawai'i. Full text available here.
April 14, 2020: Letter to the Small Business Administration (SBA) requesting a timeline for providing more e-Tran logins needed for Hawaii’s financial institutions to more quickly process Payroll Protection Program loans.
April 10, 2020: Joint letter urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to incorporate Hawai‘i specific agriculture programs into its guidance for the $9.5 billion available to help farmers dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.
April 8, 2020: Joint letter to the Census Bureau calling for expanded outreach to Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander communities amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
April 3, 2020: Joint letter urging the Department of Commerce to accelerate the distribution of fisheries aid funding.
March 24, 2020: Case-Gabbard letter to Secretary Ben Carson of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in support of Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim’s request for additional Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program funding and flexibility.
March 24, 2020: Delegation letter to the President in support of Governor David Ige’s request for additional personal protective equipment and supplies for Hawai‘i.
March 23, 2020: Joint letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Purdue encouraging consideration of the needs of specialty crops when implementing COVID-19 measures.
Supporting Students, Workers and Veterans in Lockdown
May 15, 2020: Voted for H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. Among other things, it would provide another round of economic impact payments worth up to $1,200 for most Americans, create a $200 billion fund to provide hazard pay for essential workers and provisions to protect worker safety, expand student loan relief, preserve health coverage, extend unemployment benefits, provide housing assistance and more. A one-page summary can be found here.
May 14, 2020: Joint letter to President Trump seeking to keep National Guard servicemembers on federal status rather than state orders during the pandemic, provide flexibility on leave benefits and provide access to enhanced health care benefits.
May 1, 2020: Cosponsored H.R. 6563, the Emergency Educational Connections Act of 2020, which would establish an Emergency Connectivity Fund to provide grants and loans for elementary and secondary schools and libraries to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems routers, and other devices supporting internet service for students and staff. Full text availablehere.
April 30, 2020: Joint letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation and Department of Homeland Security requesting they require pilots, flight attendants, and Transportation Security Administration agents, Amtrak employees and other frontline communication workers to wear personal protective equipment.
April 16, 2020: Joint letter to House Leadership requesting emergency support for libraries in the next COVID-19 response bill.
April 13, 2020: Joint letter to House Leadership on including additional assistance for museums in the next COVID-19 response bill.
March 26, 2020: Cosponsored H.R. 6322, the Student Veteran Coronavirus Response Act. This Act allows the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to continue to pay veterans on work-study allowances and protects other veterans benefits threatened by the pandemic response. The bill has since become law. Full text available here.
Keeping in Touch with Hawai‘i (Talk Stories)
June 22, 2020: COVID-19 Tele-Talk Story Community Meeting
May 1, 2020: Virtual Arts Advocacy Day 2020 Talk Story with Hawaii Arts Alliance.
April 30, 2020: COVID-19 Virtual Town Hall with State Representatives Val Okimoto and Lynn DeCoite.
April 29, 2020: COVID-19 Care Conversation sponsored by the Hawai’i Executive Collaborative and the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
April 8, 2020: COVID-19 Tele-Talk Story Community Meeting
March 18, 2020: COVID-19 Talk Story with Congressman Case and Lt. Governor Josh Green.