The Hawaii Democrat hasn’t been to DC in months and still works as an airline pilot

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A congressman who ran on a promise to give voters full-time representation has been absent from the Capitol for most of this year, according to a new report.

Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaiihas rarely shown up for work in Washington DC this year, voting only five times in person over three days in January, according to an analysis by the Honolulu Civil Beat.

Representative-elect Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, is a pilot in the military as well as for Hawaiian Airlines. “I’ve always had the ability to bring people together,” Kahele said. “In times of crisis, I function optimally in a high-stress situation.”
(Courtesy of Kai Kahele for Congress)

The rest of his 120 votes were cast by proxy, meaning a colleague voted on his behalf while he remained in Hawaii.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-California, has allowed proxy voting since the start of the pandemic, while in-person voting is still required in the Senate.

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Kahele, a combat veteran, apparently never gave up his job as a Hawaiian Airlines pilot where, according to Civil Beat, he earned $120,000 in 2020, the year he was elected to Congress. His salary as a congressman is $174,000.

His inability to report for work in Congress coincided with Kahele considering a 2022 gubernatorial bid, although he made no formal announcement.

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Neither Kahele nor her spokesperson responded to Fox News’ requests for comment on Tuesday.

Representative-elect Kai Kahele from Hawaii's Second Congressional District arrives in Washington for Congressional Orientation in November 2020. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News)
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Representative-elect Kai Kahele from Hawaii’s Second Congressional District arrives in Washington for Congressional Orientation in November 2020. (Marisa Schultz/Fox News)
(Marisa Schultz/Fox News)

His absence from Washington is a watershed moment for Kahele who entered Congress in 2021 with the stated intention of moving his wife and three daughters to DC to avoid the grueling 1 p.m. commute each week from his hometown of Hilo.

During an interview with Fox News during the orientation of freshmen at the end of 2020, Kahele said that he plans to organize barbecues, go to church and play baseball with other lawmakers in hopes that friendships might give way to bipartisanship.

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“I’ve always had the ability to bring people together,” Kahele said of her intentions to build relationships in DC

The freshman lawmaker succeeded Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, in Congress. He was a state senator when he announced he would primarily challenge popular Gabbard right after she announced her 2020 presidential bid. Kahele said Hawaiians need representation in full-time.

Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, with his wife Maria and their three daughters.

Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, with his wife Maria and their three daughters.
(Courtesy of Kai Kahele for Congress)

Kahele has voted more proxies than most of her House colleagues this year, according to the Civil Beat, missing all but five votes. The most absent members of Congress were Democratic Representatives Albio Sires of New Jersey, Lucille Roybal-Allard of California and Al Lawson of Florida, who missed all votes in the House in 2022.

Kahele made history in 2020 as the second native Hawaiian elected to Congress to represent Aloha State since it became the 50th state in 1959. He is a former state senator and veteran of the military pilot combat. He is a progressive who supports the Green New Deal and “Medicare-for-all”.

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