WASHINGTON, DC — Hawaii Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Colleen Hanabusa introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen civil defense preparedness in Hawaii and across the country.
The Civil Defense Preparedness Act of 2018 (H.R. 5399) would expand existing Department of Homeland Security terrorism and catastrophic event grant programs to include improving nuclear, biological, and chemical attack preparedness. The grants would be used for training, protective equipment, building reinforcements, and other community preparedness measures.
In response to Hawaii’s false missile alert, Gabbard has also introduced bipartisan legislation that would improve accountability by ensuring transparent investigations and disclosure into the incident and establish best practices to strengthen state and national preparedness and disaster communications plans, among other measures.
“The false ballistic missile alert sent out in Hawaii earlier this year, and the threat of nuclear attack from North Korea, reveal major gaps in preparedness measures and alert plans across all levels of our government,” Gabbard said in a press release. “Addressing this must be taken seriously and made a priority in Hawaii and across the country. My bipartisan legislation provides the means to support state and local governments to make these critical investments for our communities.”
Hanabusa said more than two months have passed since the false ballistic missile alert revealed significant failures in the state’s preparations for a possible attack.
“We are still seeking a full, transparent accounting of what went wrong for 38 minutes on January 13,” she said.
She called for a review of HI-EMA’s Attack Warning Signal system and the community response plan in the event of a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear attack as part of the process to restore the public trust.
“This bipartisan bill will help prioritize Department of Homeland Security grant funding for communities that need to improve training, fortify or create shelter space, and purchase new equipment,” Hanabusa said.
Congresswoman Madeleine Z. Bordallo said better preparedness is needed in Guam, Hawaii and other areas in country that are especially susceptible to threats from weapons of mass destruction.
“While our people are confident in our island’s defenses, more needs to be done to inform the public, harden facilities, and enhance coordination between our military, civilian, and law enforcement partners,” she said.