Rep. Tulsi Gabbard opted not to run for reelection to a fifth term in Congress and will be leaving office when the 116th Congress adjourns this week, but the Hawaii Democrat will be missed.
That’s because Gabbard is one of the few remaining voices of moderation in her increasingly left-wing party in Congress. Her recent sponsorship of three pieces of legislation, as well as her principled vote against the COVID-19 relief bill, bear that out.
On Dec. 10, she introduced a bill that, if enacted, would protect girls and women from being forced to compete in sports against transgender biological males.
Gabbard sponsored H.R. 8932, the Protect Women’s Sports Act, with Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., “to clarify Title IX protections for female athletes [are] based on biological sex,” according to a statement announcing the introduction of the bill.
The legislation would stop schools from receiving federal funding if they allow transgender males and females to play athletics on teams with students of the opposite biological sex.
Gabbard, who unsuccessfully sought the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said she wants to protect Title IX’s original intent, “which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes, based on sex.”
The Hawaii lawmaker released an eight and a half-minute video on Twitter offering detailed background on Title IX and an explanation of why she’s co-sponsoring the bill.
“It is the height of hypocrisy for those who claim to be advocates for women’s rights to deny that there is even such a thing as a woman, biologically speaking—to deny the very biological distinction that makes women women, and not men,” she said.
Emilie Kao, director of the DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society at The Heritage Foundation, commended the Hawaii Democrat.
Rep. Gabbard took a courageous stand for fairness and female athletes around the country.
Biology matters in many areas. It matters in sports because it determines competitiveness, performance, and results.
There is widespread bipartisan support for keeping male and female sports separate. Americans know that the law should protect fair competition by acknowledging the reality of sex differences.
A day earlier, on Dec. 9, Gabbard also introduced H.R. 8923, which would amend the U.S. criminal code “to ensure a health care practitioner exercises the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.”
The bill is similar to a bipartisan piece of legislation introduced earlier this year that was rejected. Gabbard received criticism on social media for offering “redundant” legislation.
But Melanie Israel, a research associate at Heritage’s DeVos Center, said Gabbard’s bill should be praised, not mocked.
Protecting babies who survive an abortion procedure shouldn’t be controversial. And this is not a hypothetical problem. Data from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as various state health departments, report disturbing cases of infants surviving abortions.
Current federal law recognizes these infants as ‘persons,’ but there are no requirements that health care practitioners provide care for such infants.
In effect, a baby can be left to die after surviving an abortion without any clear legal consequences. The status quo is unacceptable, and the remedy shouldn’t be subject to partisan handwringing.
Gabbard introduced yet another pro-life bill, H.R. 8939, “to protect pain-capable unborn children.” It essentially would ban abortions after 20 weeks, unless the life or health of the mother is at risk.
These bills are all commonsense and based on science. They protect the vulnerable among us, whether they are infants fighting to survive or women looking just to compete on a level playing field in a world where transgender males “identify” as females and win competitions unfairly.
But Gabbard’s support for these bills makes her an outlier in an increasingly liberal party.
The prospective Biden administration has said it would seek to enact the so-called Equality Act, which would expand anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBTQ individuals, posing a threat to religious freedom, and to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which since 1980 has barred federal funding for most abortions.
Gabbard, whose 2nd Congressional District encompasses the entire state of Hawaii outside of Oahu, has also departed from her party’s left-wing orthodoxy in other ways.
She announced she would refuse to receive the COVID-19 vaccine available to members of Congress until after elderly Americans have received it. In a tweet, she lambasted “arrogant, unelected [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] bureaucrats” for failing to put older generations—who are more vulnerable to the coronavirus—first.
The outgoing congresswoman also voted Dec. 21 against the COVID-19 relief package and described the $600 qualifying Americans will receive as “a slap in the face to every American struggling due to the pandemic.”
Gabbard described the bill as a “representation of the screwed-up priorities of Washington” and tweeted, “You deserve better.”
Of course, Gabbard’s voting record was hardly perfect, but her refusal to reflexively fall in line with fellow liberals when important issues are involved was a breath of fresh air in an era when identity politics reign and when few politicians seem to speak for their constituents and instead automatically align with their respective sides.