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Dan Inouye
President pro tempore of the United States Senate
In office
June 28, 2010 (2010-06-28) – December 17, 2012 (2012-12-17)
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byPatrick Leahy
Chair of the
Senate Appropriations Committee
In office
January 3, 2009 (2009-01-03) – December 17, 2012 (2012-12-17)
Preceded byRobert Byrd
Succeeded byBarbara Mikulski
Chair of the
Senate Commerce Committee
In office
January 3, 2007 – January 3, 2009
Preceded byTed Stevens
Succeeded byJay Rockefeller
Chair of the
Senate Indian Affairs Committee
In office
June 6, 2001 – January 3, 2003
Preceded byBen Nighthorse Campbell
Succeeded byBen Nighthorse Campbell
In office
January 3, 1987 – January 3, 1995
Preceded byMark Andrews
Succeeded byJohn McCain
Secretary of Senate Democratic Conference
In office
January 3, 1977 – January 3, 1989
LeaderMike Mansfield
Robert Byrd
Preceded byTed Moss
Succeeded byDavid Pryor
Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee
In office
May 19, 1976 – January 3, 1979
Preceded byFrank Church(Church Committee)
Succeeded byBirch Bayh
United States Senator
from Hawaii
In office
January 3, 1963 (1963-01-03) – December 17, 2012 (2012-12-17)
Preceded byOren Long
Succeeded byBrian Schatz
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Hawaii's at-large district
In office
August 21, 1959 (1959-08-21) – January 3, 1963 (1963-01-03)
Preceded byJohn Burns(Delegate)
Succeeded byThomas Gill
Personal details
BornDaniel Ken Inouye
(1924-09-07)September 7, 1924
Honolulu, Hawaii, U.S.
DiedDecember 17, 2012(2012-12-17) (aged 88)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S
Resting placeNational Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Maggie Shinobu Awamura (m. 1949; d. 2006)
Irene Hirano (m. 2008)
Children1 son
EducationUniversity of Hawaii, Manoa(BA)
George Washington University(JD)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service1943–1947
Unit442nd Regimental Combat Team
Battles/warsWorld War II (WIA)
AwardsMedal of Honor
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Presidential Medal of Freedom

Daniel Ken "Dan" Inouye(井上 建,Inoue Ken, ee-NOH-ay;[1] September 7, 1924 – December 17, 2012) was a United States Senator from Hawaii from 1963 until his death in 2012. He was a member of the Democratic Party, and he was President pro tempore of the United States Senate (third in the Presidential Line of Succession) from 2010 until his death in 2012,[2] making him the highest-ranking Asian-American politician in U.S. history.[3] Inouye also served as chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Inouye fought in World War II as part of the 442nd Infantry Regiment. He lost his right arm to a grenade wound and received several military decorations, including the nation's highest military award, the Medal of Honor. Returning to Hawaii, he earned a law degree and was elected to Hawaii's territorial House of Representatives in 1953, and to the territorial Senate in 1957.

When Hawaii achievedstatehood in 1959, Inouye was elected as its first member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 1962 he was first elected to the U.S. Senate. Inouye was the most senior U.S. senator at the time of his death.

He was one of the longest-serving U.S. Senators in history, second only to Robert Byrd. Following the death of Byrd in 2010, Inouye was the last remaining member of the U.S. Senate to have served during the presidency of John F. Kennedy and prior to the 1964 election of President Lyndon B. Johnson. Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and later the first in the U.S. Senate. He never lost an election in 58 years as an elected official, and exercised an exceptionally large influence on Hawaii politics. At the time of his death, Inouye was the second-oldest sitting U.S. senator, seven and one-half months younger than Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey, both 88 years old.

Because of his seniority, following Senator Byrd's death on June 29, 2010, Inouye became President pro tempore of the Senate, making him third in the presidential line of succession after the Vice President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. He was a Medal of Honor recipient and a posthumous recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Among other public structures, Honolulu International Airport has since been renamed Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in his honor.

Early life[edit]

Daniel Inouye was born on September 7, 1924, in Honolulu, Hawaii, the son of Hyotaro and Kame (née Imanaga) Inouye.[4] He was a Nisei Japanese American, the son of a Japanese immigrant father and a mother whose parents had migrated from Japan. He grew up in the Bingham Tract, a Chinese-American enclave in the predominantly Japanese American community of Mōʻiliʻili in Honolulu. Inouye graduated from Honolulu's President William McKinley High School.[5]

Military service (1941–1947)[edit]

During the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Inouye served as a medical volunteer.[6]

In 1943, when the U.S. Army dropped its enlistment ban on Japanese Americans, Inouye curtailed his premedical studies at the University of Hawaii and enlisted in the Army.[6] He volunteered to be part of the segregated all-Nisei442nd Regimental Combat Team.[7] This army formation was mostly made up of second-generation Japanese Americans from Hawaii and the mainland.[8]

Inouye was promoted to sergeant within his first year, and he was assigned as a platoon sergeant. He served in Italy in 1944 during the Rome-Arno Campaign before his regiment was transferred to the Vosges Mountains region of France, where he spent two weeks in the battle to relieve the Lost Battalion, a battalion of the 141st Infantry Regiment that was surrounded by German forces. He received a battlefield commission to second lieutenant for his actions there, becoming the youngest officer in his regiment.[9] At one point while he was leading an attack, a shot struck him in the chest directly above his heart, but the bullet was stopped by the two silver dollars he happened to have stacked in his shirt pocket.[10] He continued to carry the coins throughout the war in his shirt pocket as good luck charms, until he lost them shortly before the battle in which he lost his arm.[11]

On April 21, 1945, Inouye was grievously wounded while leading an assault on a heavily defended ridge near San Terenzo in Liguria, Italy, called the Colle Musatello. The ridge served as a strongpoint of the German fortifications known as the Gothic Line, the last and most unyielding line of German defensive works in Italy. As he led his platoon in a flanking maneuver, three German machine guns opened fire from covered positions 40 yards away, pinning his men to the ground. Inouye stood up to attack and was shot in the stomach. Ignoring his wound, he proceeded to attack and destroy the first machine gun nest with hand grenades and his Thompson submachine gun. When informed of the severity of his wound, he refused treatment and rallied his men for an attack on the second machine gun position, which he successfully destroyed before collapsing from blood loss.[12]

As his squad distracted the third machine gunner, Inouye crawled toward the final bunker, coming within 10 yards. As he raised himself up and cocked his arm to throw his last grenade, a German soldier inside the bunker fired a rifle grenade, which struck his right elbow, nearly severing most of his arm and leaving his primed grenade reflexively "clenched in a fist that suddenly didn't belong to me anymore".[13] Inouye's horrified soldiers moved to his aid, but he shouted for them to keep back out of fear his severed fist would involuntarily relax and drop the grenade. While the German inside the bunker reloaded his rifle, Inouye pried the live grenade from his useless right hand and transferred it to his left. As the enemy soldier aimed his rifle at him, Inouye tossed the grenade into the bunker and destroyed it. He stumbled to his feet and continued forward, silencing the last German resistance with a one-handed burst from his Thompson before being wounded in the leg and tumbling unconscious to the bottom of the ridge. He awoke to see the worried men of his platoon hovering over him. His only comment before being carried away was to order them back to their positions, saying "Nobody called off the war!"[14]

The remainder of Inouye's mutilated right arm was later amputated at a field hospital without proper anesthesia, as he had been given too much morphine at an aid station and it was feared any more would lower his blood pressure enough to kill him.[15]

Although Inouye had lost his right arm, he remained in the military until 1947 and was honorably discharged with the rank of captain. At the time Inouye left the Army, he was a recipient of the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart. Inouye was initially awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his bravery in this action, with the award later being upgraded to the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton (alongside 19 other Nisei servicemen who served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and were believed to have been denied proper recognition of their bravery due to their race).[16] His story, along with interviews with him about the war as a whole, were featured prominently in the 2007 Ken Burns documentary The War.[17]

While recovering at Percy Jones Army Hospital from war wounds and the amputation of his right forearm following the grenade wound, Inouye met future Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, then a fellow patient. While at the same hospital, Inouye also met future fellow Democrat and Senator Philip Hart, who had been injured on D-Day. Dole mentioned to Inouye that after the war, he planned to go to Congress; Inouye beat him there by a few years. The two remained lifelong friends. In 2003, the hospital was renamed the Hart-Dole-Inouye Federal Center in honor of the three World War II veterans.[18]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]


Second Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 21 April 1945, in the vicinity of San Terenzo, Italy. While attacking a defended ridge guarding an important road junction, Second Lieutenant Inouye skillfully directed his platoon through a hail of automatic weapon and small arms fire, in a swift enveloping movement that resulted in the capture of an artillery and mortar post and brought his men to within 40 yards of the hostile force. Emplaced in bunkers and rock formations, the enemy halted the advance with crossfire from three machine guns. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Second Lieutenant Inouye crawled up the treacherous slope to within five yards of the nearest machine gun and hurled two grenades, destroying the emplacement. Before the enemy could retaliate, he stood up and neutralized a second machine gun nest. Although wounded by a sniper’s bullet, he continued to engage other hostile positions at close range until an exploding grenade shattered his right arm. Despite the intense pain, he refused evacuation and continued to direct his platoon until enemy resistance was broken and his men were again deployed in defensive positions. In the attack, 25 enemy soldiers were killed and eight others captured. By his gallant, aggressive tactics and by his indomitable leadership, Second Lieutenant Inouye enabled his platoon to advance through formidable resistance, and was instrumental in the capture of the ridge. Second Lieutenant Inouye’s extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.[19]

Congressional career[edit]

Due to the loss of his arm, Inouye abandoned his plans to become a surgeon,[6] and returned to college to study political science under the G.I. Bill. He graduated from the University of Hawaii at Manoa in 1950 with a Bachelor of Arts in political science. He earned his law degree from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 1953 and was elected into the Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.

In 1953, Daniel Inouye was elected to the Hawaii territorial House of Representatives, and was immediately elected majority leader. He served two terms there, and was elected to the Hawaii territorial senate in 1957.

Midway through Inouye's first term in the territorial senate, Hawaii achieved statehood. He won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as Hawaii's first full member, and took office on August 21, 1959, the same date Hawaii became a state; he was re-elected in 1960.

United States Senate[edit]

In 1962, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, succeeding fellow Democrat Oren E. Long.

He was the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee between 1976 and 1979 and Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee between 1987 and 1995. He introduced the National Museum of the American Indian Act in 1984 which led to the inauguration of the National Museum of the American Indian in 2004. He was Chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee between 2001 and 2003, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee between 2007 and 2009 and Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee between 2009 and 2012.

He was reelected eight times, usually without serious difficulty. His closest race was in 1992 when state senator Rick Reed held him to 57 percent of the vote—the only time he received less than 69 percent of the vote. He delivered the keynote address at the turbulent 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago,[6] and gained national attention for his service on the Senate Watergate Committee.

Inouye was also involved in the Iran-Contra investigations of the 1980s, chairing a special committee (Senate Select Committee on Secret Military Assistance to Iran and the Nicaraguan Opposition) from 1987 until 1989. During the hearings, Inouye referred to the operations that had been revealed as a "secret government" saying:

[There exists] a shadowy Government with its own Air Force, its own Navy, its own fundraising mechanism, and the ability to pursue its own ideas of the national interest, free from all checks and balances, and free from the law itself.[20]

— Daniel Inouye

Criticizing the logic of Marine Lt. Colonel Oliver North's justifications for his actions in the affair, Inouye made reference to the Nuremberg trials, provoking a heated interruption from North's attorney Brendan V. Sullivan, Jr., an exchange that was widely repeated in the media at the time. He was also seen as a pro-Taiwan senator, and helped in forming the Taiwan Relations Act.

On December 23, 1982, Inouye voted against[21] a 5 cent a gallon increase on gasoline taxes across the US imposed to aid the financing of highway repairs and mass transit. The bill passed on the last day of the 97th United States Congress.[22][23]

On November 20, 1993, Inouye voted against the North American Free Trade Agreement.[24] The trade agreement linked the United States, Canada and Mexico into a single free trade zone, and was signed into law on December 8 by President Bill Clinton.[25]

In 2009, Inouye assumed leadership of the powerful Senate Committee on Appropriations after longtime chairman Robert Byrd stepped down. Following the latter's death on June 28, 2010, Inouye was elected President pro tempore, the officer third in the presidential line of succession.

In 2010, Inouye announced his decision to run for a ninth term.[26] He easily won the Democratic primary—the real contest in this heavily Democratic state—and then trounced Republican state representative Campbell Cavasso with 74 percent of the vote.

Inouye ran for Senate majority leader several times without success.[27]

Prior to his death, Inouye announced that he planned to run for a record tenth term in 2016, when he would have been 92 years old.[28][29] He also said,

I have told my staff and I have told my family that when the time comes, when you question my sanity or question my ability to do things physically or mentally, I don't want you to hesitate, do everything to get me out of here, because I want to make certain the people of Hawaii get the best representation possible.[30]

Gang of 14[edit]

Main article: Gang of 14

On May 23, 2005, Inouye was a member of a bipartisan group of fourteen moderate senators, known as the Gang of 14, to forge a compromise on the Democrats' use of the judicial filibuster, thus blocking the Republican leadership's attempt to implement the "nuclear option", a means of forcibly ending a filibuster.[31] Under the agreement, the Democrats would retain the power to filibuster a Bush judicial nominee only in an "extraordinary circumstance", and the three most conservative Bush appellate court nominees (Janice Rogers Brown, Priscilla Owen and William H. Pryor, Jr.) would receive a vote by the full U.S. Senate.[32]

Electoral history[edit]

Main article: Electoral history of Daniel Inouye

Inouye was wildly popular in his home state and never lost an election.


Inouye's wife of nearly 57 years, Margaret "Maggie" Awamura Inouye, died of cancer on March 13, 2006. On May 24, 2008, he married Irene Hirano in a private ceremony in Beverly Hills, California. Hirano was president and founding chief executive officer of the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, California. She resigned the position at the time of her marriage in order to be closer to her husband. According to the Honolulu Advertiser, Inouye was twenty-four years older than Hirano. On May 27, 2010, Hirano was elected by the board to chair the nation's second largest non-profit organization The Ford Foundation.[33] Inouye's son Kenny was the guitarist for influential D.C. hardcore punk band Marginal Man.[34]

Honors and decorations[edit]

  • Grand Cross of the Philippine Legion of Honor in 1993.
  • On June 21, 2000, Inouye was presented the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton for his service during World War II.
  • Also in 2000, Inouye was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan, in recognition of his long and distinguished career in public service.[35]
  • In 2006, the U.S. Navy Memorial awarded Inouye its Naval Heritage award for his support of the U.S. Navy and the military during his terms in the Senate.
  • Grand Cross (Bayani) of the Order of Lakandula on August 14, 2006.[36]
  • In 2007, Inouye was personally inducted as a Chevalier of the Legion of Honor by President of FranceNicolas Sarkozy
  • In 2008, Inouye was awarded the Israeli chief of Staff Medal of Appreciation by Gabi Ashkenazi.
  • In February 2009, a bill was introduced in the Philippine House of Representatives by Rep. Antonio Diaz seeking to confer honorary Filipino citizenship on Inouye, Senators Ted Stevens and Daniel Akaka and Representative Bob Filner, for their role in securing the passage of benefits for Filipino World War II veterans.[37]
  • In June 2011, Inouye was appointed a Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers, the highest Japanese honor which may be conferred upon a foreigner who is not a head of state. Only the seventh American to be so honored, he is also the first American of Japanese descent to receive it. The conferment of the order was "to recognize his continued significant and unprecedented contributions to the enhancement of goodwill and understanding between Japan and the United States."[38]
  • In 2011, Philippine president Benigno Aquino III conferred Order of Sikatuna upon Inouye. He had previously been awarded Order of Lakandula and a Philippine Republic Presidential Unit Citation.[39]
  • Inouye was inducted as an honorary member of the Navajo Nation and titled "The Leader Who Has Returned With a Plan".[40]
  • On August 8, 2013, Inouye was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. The citation in the press release reads as follows:
Daniel Inouye was a lifelong public servant. As a young man, he fought in World War II with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, for which he received the Medal of Honor. He was later elected to the Hawaii Territorial House of Representatives, the United States House of Representatives, and the United States Senate. Senator Inouye was the first Japanese American to serve in Congress, representing the people of Hawaii from the moment they joined the Union.[41]
  • In 2014, Israel named the Simulator room of the Arrow anti missile defense system in his honor.[42]
  • On April 27, 2017, Honolulu International Airport was officially renamed Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in his honor.

Awards and decorations[edit]

On May 27, 1947, he was honorably discharged and returned home as a Captain with a Distinguished Service Cross, Bronze Star Medal, 2 Purple Hearts, and 12 other medals and citations. In 2000, his Distinguished Service Cross was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.[43][44][45]


In 2012, Inouye began using a wheelchair in the Senate to preserve his knees, and received an oxygen concentrator to aid his breathing. In November 2012, he suffered a minor cut after falling in his apartment and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.[46] On December 6, he was again hospitalized at George Washington University Hospital so doctors could further regulate his oxygen intake, and was transferred to Walter Reed Medical Center on December 10. He died there of respiratory complications seven days later on December 17, 2012.[47][48] According to the senator's Congressional web site, his last word was "Aloha".[49] Prior to his death, Inouye left a letter encouraging Governor Neil Abercrombie to appoint Colleen Hanabusa to succeed Inouye should he become incapacitated;[50] instead Abercrombie appointed Hawaii's Lieutenant GovernorBrian Schatz.[51][52]

Senate Majority LeaderHarry Reid announced Inouye's death on the floor of the Senate, referring to Inouye as "certainly one of the giants of the Senate". Senate Minority LeaderMitch McConnell referred to Inouye as one of the finest senators in United States history.[53]President Barack Obama referred to him as a "true American hero".[54]

Inouye's body lay in state at the United States Capitol rotunda on December 20, 2012; only the 31st person—and first Asian-American—so honored.[55] President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker John Boehner spoke at a funeral service at the Washington National Cathedral on December 21. Inouye's body was then flown to Hawaii, where it lay in state at the Hawaii State Capitol on December 22. A second funeral service was held at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu the following day.[56][57][58]


On May 23, 2013, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that the next Arleigh Burke–class destroyer (DDG) would be named USS Daniel Inouye (DDG-118) to honor Inouye.[59] In December 2013 the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (then under construction) at Haleakala Observatory on Maui was renamed the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in his memory.[60]

See also[edit]


  1. ^As pronounced by himself in "Asian Americans Should Run for Office".
  2. ^Hulse, Carl (June 28, 2010). "Inouye Sworn In as President Pro Tem". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2010. 
  3. ^Raju, Manu (June 28, 2010). "Daniel Inouye now in line of presidential succession". Politico. Retrieved June 29, 2010. 
  4. ^"Inouye". Retrieved March 19, 2010. 
  5. ^"McKinley High School Hall of Honor". Archived from the original on November 4, 2012. Retrieved December 28, 2012. 
  6. ^ abcdAssociated Press (Chicago), "Keynoter Knows Sting of Bias, Poverty", St. Petersburg Times, August 27, 1968.
  7. ^Go for Broke National Education Center, "Medal of Honor Recipient 2nd Lieutenant Daniel K. Inouye"Archived July 17, 2012, at the Wayback Machine.. Retrieved December 7, 2012.
  8. ^"100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry". GlobalSecurity.org. May 23, 2005. Retrieved September 27, 2008. 
  9. ^"The War". PBS. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  10. ^Smith, Larry (2004). Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words. W.W. Norton and Company. p. 47. 
  11. ^"Inouye Reflects on War Exploits". Associated Press. August 18, 1988. 
  12. ^Victor Lipman (December 18, 2012). "Leadership Lessons From The Late Sen. Daniel Inouye". Forbes. Retrieved December 26, 2012. 
  13. ^Yenne, Bill (2007). Rising sons: the Japanese American GIs who fought for the United States in World War II. Macmillan. p. 216. 
  14. ^Risjord, Norman K. (2006). Giants in their time: representative Americans from the Jazz Age to the Cold War. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 180. 
  15. ^"The War". Public Broadcasting System. Retrieved March 19, 2010.
Inouye as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army
President Obama speaking at the funeral service for the late Senator Daniel Inouye

Tulsi Gabbard (, born April 12, 1981) is an American politician of the Democratic Party serving as the U.S. Representative for Hawaii's 2nd congressional district since 2013. She was also 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.[2] Elected in 2012, she is the first Samoan American[3] and the first Hindu member of the United States Congress.[4]

She served in a combat zone in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 and was deployed to Kuwait from 2008 to 2009.[5] Gabbard previously served in the Hawaii House of Representatives from 2002 to 2004, becoming at age 21 the youngest woman to be elected to a U.S. state legislature at the time.[6]

Gabbard is noted for her unorthodox political positions.[7] Gabbard supports abortion rights, opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, has called for a restoration of the Glass–Steagall Act, and has been in favor of same-sex marriage since 2012. She denounces regime change wars like those in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and has opposed the U.S.-led removal of Bashar al-Assad from power, arguing that the country's civil war is a source of the Syrian refugee crisis.

Early life and education[edit]

Tulsi Gabbard was born on April 12, 1981, in Leloaloa, American Samoa, the fourth of five children. Her father, Mike Gabbard, is of American Samoan descent; his Samoan family moved to the United States and he became a naturalized citizen at age one. Her mother, Carol (Porter) Gabbard, was born in Decatur, Indiana. In 1983, when Gabbard was two years old, her family moved to Hawaii.[8]

Gabbard has spoken about growing up as a mixed-race girl in a multicultural and multireligious household: her father is of Samoan and European ancestry and an active lector at his Catholic church, but also enjoys practicing mantra meditation, including kirtan. Her mother is of European descent and a practicing Hindu. Tulsi embraced Hinduism as a teenager.[9][10][11]

Gabbard was home-schooled through high school except for two years at a girls-only missionary academy in the Philippines.[12] She graduated from Hawaii Pacific University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration in 2009.[13][14][15]

She returned from a deployment to Iraq in 2006 and worked for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka, then volunteered for another deployment to the Middle East in 2009. After returning to Hawaii, she was elected to the Honolulu City Council, where she served from 2011 to 2012. In 2012, she ran for the open 2nd Congressional District seat and won the primary with 55% of the vote in an upset over former Honolulu MayorMufi Hannemann. She won the general election with 81% of the vote. In the House of Representatives, Gabbard serves on the Armed Services and Foreign Affairs committees. She is also a military police officer with the Hawaii Army National Guard.

Political career[edit]

Main article: Electoral history of Tulsi Gabbard

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


In 2002, after redistricting, Gabbard (as Gabbard 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%).[16] Gabbard then defeated Republican Alfonso Jimenez in the general election, 65%–35%.[17]

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.[18] Gabbard chose not to campaign for a second term,[19] and Cabanilla won the Democratic primary, 64%–25%.[20]


In 2002, at the age of 21, Gabbard had become the youngest legislator ever elected in Hawaii's history and the youngest woman elected to state office in the nation.[6][21] She represented the Oahu 42nd District, which covers Waipahu, Honolulu, and Ewa Beach.

She played a key role, along with her Ewa colleagues, in securing funding for infrastructure on the Ewa Plains.[15]

During her tenure Gabbard strongly supported legislation to promote clean energy. She supported legislation to expand tax credits for solar and wind, improve the net energy metering program, establish renewable energy portfolio standards, reduce taxes on the sale of ethanol and biofuels, provide funding for a seawater air conditioning project and make it easier for condo/townhouse owners to get solar.[22]

Regarding the environment, Gabbard supported legislation to better protect air quality, the water supply, endangered species and avian/marine life, fight invasive species, reduce greenhouse gases, promote recycling of food waste & packaging, improve the Deposit Beverage Container Program (bottle law), and reduce illegal dumping.[22]

As a state representative, Gabbard opposed LGBT rights, including same-sex marriage and civil unions. But she subsequently opposed the Defense of Marriage Act, arguing that "marriage is a bond of love, and it's spiritual and metaphysical in nature. It's a sacred bond, and that is not an area where government should be involved."[23][24]

Honolulu City Council (2011–2012)[edit]


After returning home from her second deployment to the Middle East in 2009, Gabbard ran for a seat on the Honolulu City Council.[25] 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.[26] In the November 2 runoff election, she defeated Sesnita Moepono, 58%–42%, to win the seat.[27]


As a councilmember, Gabbard introduced a measure to help food truck vendors by loosening parking restrictions.[28] She also introduced Bill 54, a measure that authorized city workers to confiscate personal belongings stored on public property.[29][30] After overcoming opposition from the ACLU[31] and Occupy Hawai'i,[32] and a potential conflict with Hawaii's constitutional law, Kānāwai Māmalahoe, which protects "those who sleep by the roadside", Bill 54 passed[32] 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.[33] She resigned from the council on August 16, 2012, to focus on her congressional campaign.[34]

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



Main article: United States House of Representatives elections in Hawaii, 2012 § District 2

In early 2011, Mazie Hirono, the incumbent Congresswoman in Hawaii's second congressional district, announced that she would run for a U.S. Senate seat. Soon after that, in May 2011, Gabbard announced her candidacy for the House seat.[35] She was endorsed by the Sierra Club,[36]Emily's List,[37] and VoteVets.org.[38]Honolulu MayorMufi Hannemann was the best-known candidate in the six-way primary, but Gabbard won in a major upset, taking 55% of the vote. Hannemann finished second, with 34%. The Honolulu Star-Advertiser described her win as an "improbable rise from a distant underdog to victory".[39] Gabbard resigned from the City Council on August 16 to prevent the cost of a separate special election.[40][41]

As the Democratic nominee, Gabbard traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.[42] There she credited grassroots support as the reason for her come-from-behind win in the primary.[43] Gabbard won the general election on November 6, 2012, defeating Republican Kawika Crowley 81% to 19%.[44]


See also: United States House of Representatives elections in Hawaii, 2014 § District 2

In December 2012, Gabbard applied to be considered for appointment to the Senate seat vacated by the death of Daniel Inouye,[45] but despite support from prominent mainland Democrats,[46][47] she was not among the three candidates selected by the Hawaii Democratic party.[48]

Gabbard won reelection to the House on November 4, 2014, defeating Crowley again, 78.7% to 18.6%.


Gabbard was reelected to the House in 2016, defeating her opponent, Angela Kaaihue, by 140,000 votes (81.2%-18.8%).[49]



In her first term, Gabbard introduced the Helping Heroes Fly Act, which passed unanimously in both the House and Senate. This measure seeks to improve airport security screenings for severely wounded veterans, and was signed into law by the president.[50][51][52] She also led an effort to pass legislation to assist victims of military sexual trauma.[53][54][55]


Along with Senator Hirono, Gabbard introduced the Filipino Veterans of WWII Congressional Gold Medal Act of 2015 to award Filipino and Filipino American veterans who fought in World War II the Congressional Gold Medal.[56] The bill passed both the Senate and the House, in July and November 2016, respectively,[57] and was signed by President Obama on December 15, 2016.[58]

Gabbard also introduced Talia's Law, to prevent child abuse and neglect on military bases. It passed the House and Senate and was signed by President Obama on December 23, 2016.[59][60][61]


In the first session of the 115th Congress on January 4, 2017, Gabbard introduced bill H.R. 258 to prohibit the use of United States Government funds to provide assistance to Al Qaeda, Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and to countries supporting those organizations directly or indirectly.[62][63][64] 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."[65]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus membership[edit]

Democratic National Committee[edit]

Gabbard, a vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee, was critical of the decision by DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz to hold only six debates during the 2016 Democratic Party primary season, compared with 26 in 2008 and 15 in 2004.[67][68] Some have argued that the number of debates was intentionally limited in order to bolster Secretary Hillary Clinton's position as the Democratic front-runner, citing Wasserman Schultz's previous position as co-chair of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign as a conflict of interest and a newly created penalty barring further participation in sanctioned debates for any candidate who participates in an unsanctioned debate as an effort to limit public exposure to other candidates.[68][69] Gabbard appeared on multiple news outlets to express her dissatisfaction with the number of debates. Following her public criticisms, she claimed she was uninvited from attending the Democratic debate in Las Vegas as a result. In a telephone interview with The New York Times, Gabbard stated, "It's very dangerous when we have people in positions of leadership who use their power to try to quiet those who disagree with them. When I signed up to be vice-chair of the DNC, no one told me I would be relinquishing my freedom of speech and checking it at the door."[70]

Gabbard resigned as DNC vice-chair on February 28, 2016, in order to endorse Senator Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination.[71] She was the first female U.S. Representative to endorse Sanders.[72] At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Gabbard gave the nominating speech putting his name forward.[73] Furthermore, in July 2016, Gabbard launched a petition to end the Democratic Party's process of appointing superdelegates in the nomination process.[74] She endorsed Keith Ellison for DNC chair in the DNC 2017 chairmanship elections.[75]

Syria trip and ethics controversy[edit]

In January 2017, Gabbard met with President Bashar al-Assad during a secret trip to Syria.[76][77] Gabbard said in a 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).[78] The chairman of AACCESS, Bassem Khawam, accompanied Gabbard on the trip, as did Elie Khawam. Both men are officials in the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP),[79] which has fought on the side of Assad regime, but Bassem Khawam has denied that AACCESS is connected to the SSNP.[80]

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."[81] She later paid for the trip with her own money.[82] 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.[82][83] Remaining forms and her itinerary were submitted on February 8, 2017.[84]


In 2016 New Yorker editor Amy Davidson and Boston Globe reporter James Pindell described Gabbard as a potential 2020 presidential candidate.[85][86]

Military service (2004–present)[edit]

In April 2003, while serving in the State Legislature, Gabbard enlisted in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[87]

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 with the 29th Support Battalion medical company.[88] 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.[19][89] Gabbard served at Logistical Support Area Anaconda in Iraq.[90] While on a rest-and-relaxation tour in August 2005, she presented Hawaii's condolences to the government of London regarding the 7 July 2005 London bombings.[88]

Upon her return from Iraq in 2006, Gabbard began serving as a legislative aide for U.S. Senator Daniel Akaka in Washington, DC.[91] She was responsible for issues involving veteran affairs, energy and natural resources, judiciary, and homeland security. She served as a surrogate speaker for Akaka on many occasions, and built a grassroots network with the veteran community in Hawaii.[citation needed]

In March 2007, while working for Akaka, Gabbard graduated from the Accelerated Officer Candidate School at the Alabama Military Academy.[92] She was the first woman to finish as the distinguished honor graduate in the Academy's 50-year history.[6][91] 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 the Military PolicePlatoon Leader.[93]

Gabbard continued to work for Akaka until 2009, when she again voluntarily deployed with her unit to the Middle East.

In May 2010, Gabbard was one of thirty finalists for a White House Fellowship[94] and one of three finalists from Hawaii,[95] but was not selected as a fellow.[96]

In June 2011, Gabbard visited Indonesia[97] as part of a peacekeeping training with the Indonesian Army.

On October 12, 2015, Captain Gabbard was promoted to major at a ceremony at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Akaka administered the oath of office to the new major.[99][100] She continues to serve as a major in the Hawaii Army National Guard.[101]

Non-profit organizations and associations[edit]

Gabbard co-founded Healthy Hawaiʻi Coalition, an environmental educational group of which she is vice president and educational programs coordinator.[36][102] She is a lifetime member of the National Guard Association of the United States and the Military Police Regimental Association.[citation needed]

Gabbard was also a cofounder of the non-profit Stand Up For America,[103] which she and her father co-founded in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks.[104] SUFA's site profiled Gabbard[105] and hosted letters from her sent during her deployments overseas.[106][107] The Stand Up For America site came under criticism in September 2010 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.[103]

Political positions[edit]


Trans-Pacific Partnership[edit]

Gabbard strongly opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership and led protests against it.[108] A member of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific, she was highly critical of 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 actively contributing to existing threats to the environment, such as global warming and pollution. Gabbard said, "The TPP agreement will benefit Wall Street banks and multinational corporations on the backs of hard-working Americans, and it will increase existing threats to our environment...If it contains the same noxious provisions we suspected it would, I will do all I can to defeat the TPP when it comes before Congress for a final up-or-down vote."[109]


Gabbard supports a strong US-India relationship. She has repeatedly praised Indian prime minister Narendra Modi,[110][111] 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."[110] 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", on the grounds that it could have undermined the US-India relationship had he used it as an excuse to reject a strong relationship with America.[110] She also criticized the arrest of Indian consular officer Devyani Khobragade on charges of visa fraud and perjury.[111] In 2013, she joined some of her colleagues on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in opposing a resolution in the House of Representatives 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", saying it would weaken the friendship between India and US, citing the timing of the bill as interfering in India's elections, while emphasizing the need for US to stand for religious freedom.[112][110][113]


Gabbard voted in favor of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, an international agreement with Iran which imposed restraints on Iran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions against Iran.[114]

Iraq and Afghanistan[edit]

Gabbard opposed the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[115][better source needed] She believes that the United States' victory conditions in Iraq were not clearly defined.[116]


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).[117]

Saudi Arabia[edit]

Gabbard was a notable opponent of a $1.15 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia, and was quoted in The Hill as saying, "Saudi Arabia continues to spend billions of dollars funding the spread of the Wahhabi Salafist ideology that fuels groups like ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups around the world. The U.S. must stop arming Saudi Arabia, stop fueling this fire and hold Saudi Arabia accountable for their actions."[118][119]


Gabbard opposes the US removing Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad from power.[120] She has cited US "regime-change" involvement in Syria as a source of the Syrian refugee crisis.[121]

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.[122] She later introduced legislation to block U.S. military action against the Assad regime.[123] She has described US involvement in the Syrian Civil War as "our counterproductive regime-change war", and said that it is this "regime-change war that is causing people to flee their country".[121]

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,"[124] 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 a no-fly zone in Syria, stating that it would cost "billions of dollars, require tens of thousands of ground troops and a massive U.S. air presence, and it won't work", and that such a move would risk confrontation with Russia.[125][126]

In November 2016 she met with United States president-elect Donald Trump to enlist his support to stop the United States' alleged "illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government".[127]

In January 2017, Gabbard made a secret "fact-finding" mission to Damascus and met with diverse civil society groups as well as government officials, including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[128][129] In April 2017, after the Khan Shaykhun chemical attack killed at least 74 civilians and injured hundreds more, Gabbard called for a UN investigation into the attack and the prosecution of Bashar al-Assad in the International Criminal Court if he is found to be responsible.[130][131] After President 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, which led to sharp criticism from former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean as well as Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden.[132][133] Gabbard has not revised her position since the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported in June 2017 that sarin gas had been used in the attack.[134]


Gabbard has opposed US involvement in regime change, calling it counterproductive to defeating ISIS, al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.[135][136] She criticized the Obama Administration for "refusing" to say that "Islamic extremists" are waging a war against the United States.[137]


In her 2012 run for Congress, Gabbard received the Sierra Club Hawaii Chapter's endorsement in the Democratic primary election.[138] 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.[139]

Gabbard cited environmental impact as a reason she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership.[140]

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. Opponents of the pipeline argue that its construction would threaten the water supply and quality in the region. Her visit came days before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it would not grant the easement for construction of the pipeline to allow exploration for alternate routes.[141][142]

Social issues and civil rights[edit]

Abortion and birth control[edit]

Gabbard is pro-choice.[143][better source needed] In a 2011 interview with the Honolulu Civil Beat, Gabbard said she disagreed with the Obama administration's decision to overrule the FDA in allowing girls under 17 to purchase Plan B without a prescription.[144]


In 2013, Gabbard stated: "I applaud the [Obama] Administration for clarifying that drone strikes on non-combatant American citizens on U.S. soil are not and will not be authorized. I understand firsthand the value of using counter-terrorism warfare tactics and strategies overseas in dealing with 21st century threats. But these tactics should never be used against our own citizens here at home. Just as U.S. law enforcement strategies do not apply in war with a foreign enemy, drone strikes and other counter-terrorism tactics should not be targeting non-combatant U.S. citizens."[145][146]

LGBT issues[edit]

Gabbard previously opposed both civil unions and same-sex marriage.[147][23] As a Hawaii state legislator in 2004, she 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."[23] Gabbard 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.[148] In 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".[149] She also disputed that Hawaii schools were rampant with anti-gay discrimination.[149]

In 2012, Gabbard publicly said that she believed same-sex marriage should be legalized throughout the United States.[150] She credited her tours of duty in the Middle East for her change in views:[23] "It brought me to a deeper understanding of the meaning of freedom in our country. … We cannot afford to walk down that dangerous path of government overstepping its boundaries into the most personal parts of our lives."[151]

In 2012, Gabbard opposed the Defense of Marriage Act and a proposed state constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between a woman and a man.[152] She cosponsored the Respect for Marriage Act after her election to Congress,[153] as she had promised to do during her campaign. Gabbard also asked Hawaii state legislators "to pass legislation that will ensure fair and equal treatment for all of Hawaii's citizens".[153] 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.[155][156][157]

Gabbard received the endorsement of Equality Hawaii for her support of "equal rights for same-sex military spouses (following the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell)".[158]


Gabbard has introduced legislation to take marijuana off the federal controlled substances list as part of her criminal justice reform efforts.[159]

Native Hawaiians as indigenous people[edit]

Gabbard says that "Native Hawaiians, as a people, should be empowered to determine their own future and what kind of relationship they choose to have with the U.S. federal government",[160] and supports Native Hawaiian health and education initiatives.[161]

Trump administration[edit]

On November 21, 2016, Gabbard became the second Democrat to meet with President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team at Trump Tower, after Michelle Rhee.[162] She described the meeting as "frank and positive" and said she accepted the meeting to influence Trump before Republican neocons grew in influence and escalated the war to overthrow the Syrian government.[163] She called the Trump administration's 2017 Shayrat missile strike reckless and "short-sighted."[130]

Gabbard spoke against Trump's executive order banning refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries, saying that thorough vetting was sufficient.[164] She joined 20 Democrats on the House Foreign Affairs Committee urging Representative Ed Royce to call Michael Flynn to testify before them to investigate his and Trump's ties to Russia and whether American national security and intelligence operations have been compromised.[165]

Gabbard did not join the 169 congressional Democrats who signed a letter of opposition to Stephen Bannon's appointment as Trump's chief strategist,[166][167] but she cosponsored a bill to remove Bannon from the National Security Council.[168][169][170] Bannon has described himself as a "big fan" of Gabbard;[171] according to one source, "He loves Tulsi Gabbard," and another source said that he "wants to work with her on everything."[172]

Gabbard criticized the 2017 United States–Saudi Arabia arms deal, saying, "Saudi Arabia is a country with a devastating record of human rights violations at home and abroad and has a long history of providing support to terrorist organizations that threaten the American people".[173][174]

Personal life[edit]

Gabbard's first name, "Tulsi" (Sanskrit: तुलसी, IAST: Tulsī) comes from the name of the holy basil, a plant sacred in Hinduism.[175] She is a vegetarian and a Hindu who follows Gaudiya Vaishnavism,[12] a religious movement founded by Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. Her siblings have Hindu or Indian origin names Bhakti, Jai, Narayan, and Vrindavan.[10] She especially appreciates the Bhagavad Gita as a spiritual guide,[176] and used it when she was ceremonially sworn in as a Representative.[177] Gabbard describes herself as a "karma yogi"[178] and credits her parents with instilling the value of "karma yoga" and being of service in her and her siblings.[93]

Gabbard speaks at the 135th National Guard Association of the United States conference in 2013
Gabbard at the ceremony of her promotion to major on October 12, 2015
Gabbard (Hawaii, District 2) speaking at a luncheon in February 2013.

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