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State Sen. Kai Kahele criticizes Tulsi Gabbard for missing House vote on Syria

  • STAR-ADVERTISER / JAN. 21
                                State Sen. Kai Kahele, seen here in January, today criticized U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for missing a key vote on the Trump administration’s Syria policy. Kahele is challenging Gabbard for her current seat as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.

    STAR-ADVERTISER / JAN. 21

    State Sen. Kai Kahele, seen here in January, today criticized U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for missing a key vote on the Trump administration’s Syria policy. Kahele is challenging Gabbard for her current seat as she seeks the Democratic presidential nomination.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, listens to a question during a campaign stop in Londonderry, N.H, on Oct. 1. Gabbard is facing a primary challenge for her congressional seat from Democratic state Sen. Kai Kahele.

    ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Democratic presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, listens to a question during a campaign stop in Londonderry, N.H, on Oct. 1. Gabbard is facing a primary challenge for her congressional seat from Democratic state Sen. Kai Kahele.

State Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) is criticizing Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard for failing to show up to vote today on a House resolution that condemns President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of American forces from northern Syria.

The overwhelmingly bipartisan vote in favor of the resolution by the U.S. House of Representatives was a stinging rebuke of the president’s actions, which have left America’s Kurdish allies in Syria vulnerable to attack by Turkish forces and thrown U.S. policy in the region into disarray.

Gabbard, who has been busy on the presidential campaign trail, was one of 14 representatives absent from the vote. The measure passed 354 to 60.

Kahele, who is vying for Gabbard’s congressional seat, has repeatedly criticized Gabbard in recent weeks for being absent from her district.

“I support the action taken by the House today to pass this resolution,” Kahele said in a press release. “Unfortunately, the people of Hawaiʻi’s second congressional district were left without a voice because Congresswoman Gabbard, yet again, failed to show up and report to duty.

“Appearing on national television the night before is not an excuse to miss work. The people of Hawai‘i deserve a representative who is committed full-time to this job.”

Both Gabbard and Kahele are officers in the National Guard and have served in the Middle East.

Gabbard’s absence from the vote on Syria was conspicuous given that military affairs and conflicts in the Middle East have been priorities of her career in Congress and salient themes in her presidential campaign.

Representatives for Gabbard didn’t respond to requests that she comment on why she missed the vote and how she would have voted if she was in attendance.

Gabbard was in Westerville, Ohio, last night for the Democratic presidential primary debate. The schedule posted on her presidential campaign website doesn’t list any events that she was personally expected to attend today. Gabbard was scheduled to hold a town hall at the University of Iowa Thursday, but her website listed the event as canceled.

Gabbard’s campaign for the Oval Office, like other members of Congress running for president, has made her vulnerable to attacks that she isn’t paying attention to her constituents and the job she was elected to do.

She’s missed more than half of the votes in the House since July, according to GovTrack.us. She also hasn’t held a town hall in Hawaii since April 2017.

Gabbard’s record of missed votes is similar to the records of other members of Congress who are juggling a presidential campaign. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, for example, has missed three-fourths of the votes in the Senate since July, while Sen. Kamala Harris of California has missed about 82% of votes.

Gabbard hasn’t said whether she intends to run for her House seat again. The Democratic primary is in August.

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