Congressman Ed Case: Two More Crises; Veterans Report and Nov. 4th Talk Story
Congressman Ed Case: Two More Crises; Veterans Report and Nov. 4th Talk Story
In my last e-newsletter-report to you here, I highlighted four crises on which my office has been especially focused: Maui; federal government shutdown; Red Hill; and COVID-19. Two more crises have since arisen: the removal and replacement of the U.S. House Speaker; and Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel. I want to report back on all six of these crises, and additionally, as we approach Veterans Day, highlight my report to Hawaii’s some 112,000 veterans here and my special talk story on veterans issues this coming Saturday, November 4th here.
Maui. On this 79th day since the Maui wildfires, the full resources of my office continue to be devoted to addressing the across-the-board needs of this disaster. I continue to coordinate my efforts very closely with our state, county and community partners, and especially with my fellow Hawai‘i congressional delegation colleagues. In Washington, D.C. and mainly through my U.S. House Appropriations Committee, I am focused mostly on assuring the billions of dollars of federal funding that will be required to see us through the years recovery will take. Our delegation was able to achieve our top goal of replenishing the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) Disaster Relief Fund, which is funding most of the current effort as well as other FEMA disaster recovery efforts across the country, with $16 billion in additional funding. These efforts will continue through the current and future appropriations cycles. More in my Hawai‘i Wildfire Disaster Emergency Resources Guide here.
Federal government shutdown. As I wrote you last, our federal government had not passed our budget for Fiscal Year 2024 (October 1, 2023-September 30, 2024) and was due to shut down in just days, with widespread consequences throughout our country. As Co-Chair of our bipartisan House Problem Solvers Caucus and of the Caucus’ Appropriations Working Group, I worked with my colleagues toward a path to keep government open. We were able to contribute to a short-term solution: a “continuing resolution” (aka CR) to continue government funding through November 17th to provide time to complete a full budget. (This was also the legislative mechanism our delegation used to gain emergency Maui wildfire relief.) Of course, we now face another shutdown if we do not pass our regular budget or another CR by November 17th, and I am fully focused all over on how to avoid that.
Red Hill. As I wrote you last, my efforts to defuel and close Red Hill were directed at keeping Joint Task Force-Red Hill’s (JTF-RH) plan to commence and complete defueling of Red Hill on track. JTF-RH did in fact commence defueling on October 16th, and already some 30 million of over 100 million gallons of fuel have been drained out of the tanks and are being shipped elsewhere. This initial effort to remove most of the fuel is scheduled to continue into January 2024. I will continue to monitor progress and address any issues closely, in addition to my ongoing efforts in Congress to assure the funding to see full closure all the way through and to address potential long-term health implications.
COVID-19. As I wrote to you last, COVID-19 infections and deaths were showing an alarming increase both nationally and in Hawai‘i, reflecting how persistent, adaptive and dangerous this virus remains. Over the last weeks those numbers have fortunately declined, but COVID-19 remains very much with us and capable of again doing great harm. We can prevent that from happening by being careful, following standard protocols including avoidance and masking where appropriate here, and keeping vaccinations up to date here including the recently approved trivalent booster where available. More information is on my website here.
House Speaker. The Speaker of the U.S. House, our presiding officer and second in line to the Presidency after only the Vice President, is elected by all 435 voting members of the House, although as a practical matter the Speaker is chosen by the majority party, currently the Republicans. On October 3rd, a small group of my House Republican colleagues moved to remove their own selected Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, from that position. When their “motion to vacate” came before the full House, I voted with a majority of all of my colleagues to remove Speaker McCarthy. I said then that I took no pleasure in the vote but, at the end of the day, on the vote required of me, “voted for change in the House that I believe best moves us all toward a more functional Congress that actually gets things done for all Americans.” For the next twenty-two days, during a critical time for our country, the House was leaderless and inactive as my Republican colleagues waged essentially a civil war within their own party over which faction would prevail with a Speaker candidate. A natural question is why in that situation a coalition of Republican and Democrats could not come together to elect a coalition Speaker. That is what I worked toward with my Problem Solvers colleagues in proposing here that we choose an interim Speaker to get the urgent business of the country done and otherwise. However, the Republicans did not want to work outside their party, and eventually, after twenty two days of chaos and confusion, elected Mike Johnson of Louisiana as our next Speaker. I opposed his election because I do not believe his record and leadership is or will be consistent with the mainstream of my district or our country. But he was duly elected, and my job now is to work with him and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle wherever and however I can and to civilly oppose his initiatives where I can’t.
Israel. On October 7th, as the House was mired in dysfunction, Hamas launched a brutal surprise terrorist attack on Israel. The tragic loss of innocent life then and since in Israel and Gaza, the reality of human suffering then, since and upcoming, the risks of escalation elsewhere and other consequences are obvious to us all. Our country, through our President and Congress, and our world have major decisions to make. I believe when faced with such momentous decisions one must first establish basic principles to guide specific decision and actions. These are my three here. First, the attack was in fact an act of war by Hamas against Israel, and Israel has the right and obligation to defend itself, including by entering Gaza and taking actions elsewhere to destroy Hamas. Second, Israel must pursue its goals in accordance with international law, avoidance wherever and however possible of harm to the non-combatant population, and full commitment to humanitarian concerns. Third, neither Israel nor the Palestinian people nor the world can return to the prior status quo after this conflict is over whatever the outcome; the legitimate concerns of the Palestinian people must be addressed, in my view through a fair and just two-state solution. As a result, for the decisions I must make now: (1) I do not support calls for Israel to agree to a unilateral ceasefire which will only strengthen Hamas; (2) I do fully agree with efforts to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza; and (3) I support President Biden’s proposal to Congress of $14 billion in military aid to Israel to destroy Hamas.
Veterans Report and November 4th Talk Story. In these difficult times of crisis and as we approach another Veterans Day, I am reminded again of the millions who have served our country in uniform and of the commitments we have made to them and theirs. I especially take very seriously my responsibility to represent our Hawaii’s some 112,000 veterans and their ‘ohana in Congress. This requires specific action on Capitol Hill and back home, on national veterans issues, on issues that are unique to Hawai‘i and the Pacific, and on individual veterans issues like VA benefits. As part of my representation of our veterans, here is my 2023 Veterans Report on current issues in Congress. I am also hosting a special Veterans Talk Story community meeting to report personally to our veterans, answer your questions and help with your concerns. Here are details on my Talk Story on Saturday, November 4th, 9:00AM – 10:30AM Hawai‘i time at DAV/Weinberg Hall, Ke‘ehi Lagoon, 2685 North Nimitz Highway, Honolulu. If you can’t make it but have questions or need assistance, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As always, I deeply appreciate your consideration and partnership as we all work to find the best way forward for our country and Hawai‘i. For more information on my efforts and how we can help you, please visit my website at case.house.gov. If I can help you and yours with your own questions and needs, email us here or call us at (808) 650-6688.
P.S. Please sign up for my regular e-newsletter here.
Related Links : https://case.house.gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=V2Y7GOSNWCRXY
Source : https://case.house.gov/news/email/show.aspx?ID=V2Y7GOSNWCRXY