An Example for Congress

Last week, a lot of Americans woke up to a breaking news alert that has become all too familiar: a mass shooting in a public place. This time, it was a baseball diamond near Washington D.C. and some of my Republican colleagues were attacked. These members, staffers, and others were up early for a practice ahead of the Congressional baseball game which is held each year to support charities. Sadly, instead of chasing fly balls, they had to scramble to get away from a man with a gun.

We pray that everyone shot, including Majority Whip Steve Scalise, has a full recovery. It’s certainly hard to make sense of such a senseless act. Having said that, a few things are clear. It’s clear that the brave first responders who were in attendance played a vital role in preventing further tragedy. It’s clear that these types of stories are happening too often and more must be done to keep people safe. It’s clear that, despite divisions in our politics, we all need to remember that we all play for the same team: the American team.

Following Wednesday’s shooting, Speaker Paul Ryan said on the House floor, “Resolve to come together, to lift each other up and to show the country, to show the world that we are one house, the people’s house, united in our humanity.”

I think that’s an important message. There are inevitable political disagreements in Washington D.C., but there is so much we can accomplish in this country. We can make so much progress if all oars are in the water rowing in the same direction.

Listening to you

Part of making government work better involves putting power back into the hands of “we the people.” One of my important responsibilities is to stay accountable and accessible to you. It’s why I hold town halls and when I can’t meet with you in person – take to the phone to hear what’s on your minds.

This past Wednesday I rolled up my sleeves and took questions from back home in my Washington D.C. office. We had a great discussion on everything from the importance of apprenticeships to climate change to health care. 

I’ll be having more town halls and telephone town halls in the next few months. To ensure you don’t miss them, just follow my Facebook and Twitter pages for updates. Encourage your friends to follow as well!

A Remarkable Career

Congress could take a few lessons on how to bring people together, how to help them succeed, from extraordinary people in our region.

It’s partly why I went down to the House floor to highlight the remarkable career of Ron Jones, an outstanding music teacher in Port Angeles.

There are people in your life that have a lasting influence and help shape the person you become. Ron Jones was one of those people for me. He helped teach me how to be a better bass player, but he taught me so much more. He taught me work ethic, the importance of working collaboratively, and so many other lessons.  

And I’m not alone. Mr. Jones was a mentor for hundreds of others.

So I took a minute to wish him well, and on behalf of many grateful students simply say, “Thank you Mr. Jones.” You can watch a great story about his retirement from King 5 right here. And if you didn’t catch my tribute check it out here.

Protecting Livelihoods

I’ve written extensively about how the budget proposed by President Trump would hurt jobs and growth in our region. In recent weeks, as Vice Ranking Member of the Appropriations Committee, I’ve gotten the opportunity to push Administration officials to explain the rationale behind proposals that would really hammer regions like ours.

In a hearing with the Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, I asked why the administration thought eliminating federal support for the West Coast’s Early Earthquake Warning System was a good idea. As we all know, a fully operational system could make a big difference in giving people a few crucial moments to stay safe if a big one hits. I also pointed out that our national parks are job drivers on places like the Olympic Peninsula and deserve to have a good partner in the federal government to make sure facilities and trails can keep up with the millions of visitors spending time there.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget is also slated to be slashed under the President’s budget proposal. I’m particularly concerned that his budget proposes zeroing out all federal support for Puget Sound recovery.

In a hearing with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, I reminded him of his agency’s legal commitments to local and Tribal communities. In our region, folks will tell you a healthy Sound is an environmental and economic benefit. A benefit to fishing fleets and shellfish growers that create thousands of jobs and generate millions of dollars for our state’s economy. A benefit to thriving businesses connected to tourism and outdoors that invite people to take in pristine views or spot an orca on the water.

I’m going to continue working hard for a budget that doesn’t leave the folks I represent stuck holding the bag.

Watch here to see my exchange with Administrator Pruitt—and to learn more about the devastating impacts of the budget proposal.

A Tacoma Legend Says Goodbye

We recently said goodbye to Dawn Lucien, a legendary Tacoman. Thinking about my interactions with Dawn as a member of Congress and as a State Legislator, the thing I’ve probably appreciated the most was the valuable role that she played. Some people refer to the role she played diplomatically. They would say that she was a “convener.” I think we should call it what it is. She was fearless about corralling local elected officials, knocking them upside the head, and telling them to get their acts together.

There are very few people in this world who, simply by the potent combination of intelligence, kindness, sweetness, and delicious appetizers, could summon people of all parties, of all degrees of seniority to her home, and make things happen. What struck me about Dawn was her amazing ability to get things done. Not only did Dawn convene and simply persuade decision makers – but once she had her audience - she always made a clear case for action. And, the results are indisputable. Whether it was the UWT campus, the Murray Morgan Bridge, or the development of Tacoma schools and the downtown core…there is no doubt that, if it helped move Tacoma forward, Dawn probably put together a meeting to talk about it early on. 

While Dawn had some pretty amazing titles – Norm Dicks's Office Manager, City Council Member, Delegate to the United Nations Economic and Social Council – it is amazing what she was able to accomplish with the title of citizen. She was such a passionate and energetic citizen of Tacoma. I am so grateful to Dawn for her contributions to this community, for her friendship, and for giving me plenty of good marching orders. We will all miss her terribly. Read her obituary here.

Working for You

It was an honor to join the Tacoma Pierce County Black Collective for their meeting last weekend. I was inspired by the leaders in the room and their dedication to our community. I look forward to being a partner in the years to come.

Tess and I had a busy weekend in Tacoma, visiting the Festival of Sails. It was amazing seeing all of the tall ships (and it was a bit weird to see a giant yellow rubber duck).

I stopped by the Tacoma Rainbow Center to meet their new Executive Director Manny Santiago. They are celebrating 20 years of service to the LBGTQ community this year. Thanks to their entire team for the important work they do!

I also visited with the NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet in Bremerton. The theme this year was definitely relevant—Awakening Democracy. Now more than ever, it’s important to remember that we need people-power. Thanks to Tracy Flood for inviting me to join and a special shout out to this year’s award recipients, the Kitsap Community Foundation and Partnering for Youth Achievement!

OK…That’s it for this update. As always, I’m honored to represent you. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can ever lend a hand. Remember – I work for you!

Derek Kilmer