The Democratic Party of Hawaii has passed a resolution expressing “disappointment” with U.S. Rep. Ed Case over his position on one of President Joe Biden’s top legislative priorities.

The resolution says that Case’s actions concerning passage of the Build Back Better legislation “do not reflect the values and principles” of the party as outlined in its platform, previously adopted resolutions and mission statement.

The resolution was passed 46 to 19 by the party’s state central committee on Saturday, with one member abstaining.

“The vote speaks for itself: our grassroots party leaders clearly wanted to see President Biden’s Build Back Better bill passed in its original form, and were palpably disappointed when critical programs were not included in the final proposal that passed out of the House,” party chairman Tyler Dos Santos-Tam said in a press release Tuesday. “We need Congress to find a path forward on important issues that will help Hawaii families, like extending the child tax credit, universal preschool, access to college, and affordable housing funding.”

Congressman Ed Case FAA Whistleblower Helicopters Press Conference
Hawaii Congressman Ed Case has been formally criticized by his own state party. Kuʻu Kauanoe/Civil Beat/2020

The resolution is not a motion of censure nor a cause for a complaint hearing under the party bylaws, the press release explained, but instead expresses “the strong sentiment” of the state central committee’s members from across the state.

In a statement Monday, Case said it was difficult for him to comment fully on the party’s actions because he was not notified of the proposal nor offered any opportunity to explain his position or answer questions from the party.

He also said the resolution contains misstatements, mischaracterizations and omissions.

“For example, it implies that President Biden proposed a $6 trillion Build Back Better social infrastructure package,” Case wrote. “That is not correct; President Biden originally proposed the $1.8 trillion American Families Plan, while Senator (Bernie) Sanders proposed the $6 trillion package.”

Case said the resolution also omits “the basic fact” that on Nov. 9 he joined all but one Democrat in voting for passage of Biden’s $2.1 trillion Build Back Better Act.

“The measure has not yet gained approval of the majority of senators, but that is the U.S. Senate, not House,” said Case.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans while the House currently has nine more Democrats than Republicans.

Blue Dog Coalition

The state central committee is the governing body of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. Its action comes as Case, a Democrat who represents Hawaii’s 1st Congressional District in Washington, D.C., is seeking a third term. He previously represented the 2nd Congressional District for five years.

The resolution states that “numerous media sources” reported that Case has acknowledged that fellow Blue Dog Coalition members — self-described as “fiscally-responsible Democrats,” as its website explains — “leveraged their disproportionate power stemming from the slim Democratic majority to delay the passage” of the BBB bill in the House.

Tyler Dos Santos-Tam is the Democratic Party chair in Hawaii. Submitted

While other members of Hawaii’s delegation “publicly supported and sought to strengthen” sections of the bill, the resolution says, Case contributed to “weakening” the legislation by supporting efforts to “delink passage of its initiatives” to strengthen the United States’ social safety net from provisions funding infrastructure improvements.

The bill, according to the local party, “will likely contain fewer benefits to Hawaii’s working families, including weaker provisions regarding Medicare programs accessed by retirees, less robust early child care support for Hawaii keiki, a lack of free community college and trade schools, and limited paid family leave insurance.”

The resolution also identifies climate change as a key component of BBB.

Case, in his response, said the resolution was correct on one fact — that he supported efforts to delink BBB from the $1 trillion bipartisan physical infrastructure package:

“Some of my colleagues argued that BIP, which was ready to pass, should be held up as ‘leverage’ until BBB also passed. I fully disagreed with that strategy as BIP was ready to pass, the country and Hawaii supported it by wide margins, the senators who were the target of the strategy would not be leveraged, and delay risked its failure.

“I believe that subsequent events show that this strategy was indeed counterproductive, and that had we pursued it we would be sitting here today with no BIP (and its $3 billion in needed infrastructure improvements for Hawaii) much less any chance at BBB.”

Biden signed the bill, which Case pointed out allows for assistance to flow to Hawaii “beginning with improvements to our airports.”

The Democratic Party of Hawaii, which has long dominated local elections, will distribute its resolution to the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all Democrats in Congress, all members of the Democratic National Committee, local and national press organizations, “and be posted prominently” on the Democratic Party of Hawaii website and social media pages, according to the resolution.

There is no mission statement listed on the website, but its homepage states, “At the heart of our party lies a fundamental conviction that our citizens must not only be free, but they must live in a fair society. These principles must always be protected.”

The party’s platform says it “stands for liberty, social and economic justice, protection of the environment, and respect for the dignity and worth of each individual.”

Resolutions passed by the party in 2018 say it opposed a Hawaii constitutional convention and supported a strike by unionized hotel workers.

While unusual for Hawaii, other state parties have recently begun singling out elected representatives for their contrary positions.

In February, for example, the Arizona state Democratic Party passed a resolution criticizing Sen. Kyrsten Sinema for her opposition to eliminating the filibuster to pass legislation key to the party “and for her stance on Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill,” The Hill reported.

The Wyoming Republican Party voted in November to no longer recognize Rep. Liz Cheney as a member of the GOP. It followed her vote to impeach former President Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Case has drawn one primary opponent, Sergio Alcubilla.

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