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Absent Democratic lawmaker also working as airline pilot returns to Washington after bad headlines

A Hawaii Democrat who hasn’t reported to work in Washington in months has returned to Congress following a string of bad headlines about his absences.

Rep. Kai Kahele, D-Hawaii, was spotted Tuesday afternoon in the Capitol rotunda snapping pictures with a group of people that appeared to be on a tour. It marks the first time Kahele has shown up to Congress for votes since January.

In a brief interview with Fox News Digital, Kahele defended his absences and noted that he’s never technically missed votes while staying behind in Hawaii. 

“I haven’t missed a single vote this entire year. Not a single one,” Kahele said. 

HAWAII DEMOCRAT HASN’T BEEN TO DC IN MONTHS, STILL WORKING AS AIRLINE PILOT

The House instituted proxy voting during the coronavirus pandemic that allows a colleague to vote on behalf of an absent lawmaker. Kahele has previously cited legitimate COVID-19 concerns regarding new variants and living in a “multi-generational home” for his absences and prolonged use of proxy voting.

Kai Kahele won the Democratic primary in his bid to succeed Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

The Honolulu Civil Beat first reported that Kahele had only shown up for five votes in 2022 while still working part-time as a pilot for Hawaiian Airlines.

Kahele’s office previously defended his work at Hawaiian Airlines as being permitted by House ethics rules and argued his flight experience brings a positive perspective to Congress – including on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee that handles aviation policy.

ABSENT DEM LAWMAKER SITS ON COMMITTEE HANDLING BILLS AFFECTING HIS EMPLOYER, HAWAIIAN AIRLINES

Asked Tuesday if he intends to still work for Hawaiian Airlines while in Congress, “Yeah, absolutely,” Kahele told Fox News Digital.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington on Nov. 2, 2020.

Kahele’s office previously said he flies for Hawaiian Airlines only on occasion to maintain his pilot certification and within the limits of House ethics rules, which capped annual outside income at $29,895 in 2022.

His salary as a member of Congress is $174,000. 

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