What I'm Thankful For

Hello Folks -

As we head toward Thanksgiving, I’m taking time to reflect on the things that I’m thankful for. I wanted to share some of those thoughts in this week’s newsletter, and I hope you’ll write me back and let me know what you’re thankful for as well.  

Thankful for the Chance to Serve

First of all, I’m thankful for the opportunity to represent you. As most of you know, I was born and raised here in the district I’m now honored to represent. It’s my home. I wake up every day thankful for the opportunity to represent you. With that in mind, all of us on Team Kilmer have been hard at work this year.

As always, my number one priority is serving you - so I thought I’d share some of the stats from the work we’ve done so far in 2019.

  • 584 people helped through casework - One of the most important parts of my job is making sure you are treated fairly by our government. Whether you need help getting a passport, applying for a federal grant, or are grappling with a federal agency and having trouble getting the answer you need - please reach out. I have a terrific casework team that works hard every day to ensure that government works for you!
  • $691,342 dollars saved or returned to constituents through casework - Those caseworkers are delivering in a whole lot of ways! If you served our nation, you should get the benefits you’ve earned. If you paid into Social Security, you should receive it! This statistic illustrates the number of hard-earned benefits you’ve earned that my office has helped return to your pocket this year. Whether you are having trouble with Social Security, Medicare coverage, the VA, or your federal pension please contact us and we’ll look into it.
  • 91,898 letters, phone calls, and emails responded to - It’s important to me that your voice is heard. It’s valuable for me to hear what’s on your mind. And when you ask for a response, I write you back. Get in touch if there’s something you are concerned about or if Team Kilmer can lend a hand.
  • 13 town hall meetings held - I work for you! It’s important to me to hear about the issues that are on your minds and also give you an update on what’s happening in Washington D.C. So far this year, I’ve held in-person town halls in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, Poulsbo, Kingston, Belfair, Port Angeles, Forks, Quilcene, Montesano, Westport. I’ve also conducted town halls on Facebook Live and via telephone. Later this month I’ll be doing another Facebook Live town hall and another telephone town hall to keep people up to speed on what’s cooking in DC. Folks from our region who would like to join the telephone town hall can send an email to kilmer.teletownhall@mail.house.gov with their name, address, and phone number. People who sign up will receive a phone call prior to the telephone town hall.
  • 327 Community events attended - I think members of Congress should be available, accessible and accountable to the folks they represent. That’s why I run from pillar to post around our region when I’m back home. I try to participate in as many community events as I can to support some of the great things happening in our neck of the woods. From parades and festivals, to company visits and civic organizations, I always try to show up.

Thankful for our Military Families and Veterans 

This Thanksgiving, I’ll be thinking about the brave servicemembers I met earlier this month when I visited Iraq. We are so lucky to have such impressive men and women sacrificing for our country. And we should be thankful for their families too!

If you were able to read my last newsletter, I outlined some of the work I’m doing to ensure that we’re honoring those who wore the uniform and selflessly sacrificed for this country. Among my highest priorities is the work I’m doing to ensure that every veteran receives the benefits they have earned and deserved. While it hasn’t gotten a lot of press attention, I’m thankful that Congress has been working to do right by our veterans by passing 24 bipartisan bills out of the House, which would improve care for veterans, strengthen mental health and suicide prevention, and invest in the services our veterans have earned. I’m hopeful that the Senate will pass these bills as well.

I’m also thankful for all of the Vietnam veterans and community members who have shown up this year at the Vietnam Veteran Pinning Ceremonies we’ve held. These ceremonies are a small way for our community to do something the nation should have done 50 years ago - to say “thank you for your service.” Too many Vietnam veterans who served our nation have not been recognized for their service and sacrifices. I’m working to change that.

In fact, I’m hosting one of those ceremonies tomorrow evening (Tuesday, Nov. 26) in Belfair at the HUB Center for Seniors. Whether you’re eligible to receive a pin or would just like to attend as part of our community to say thank you, I hope you can join us. 

I’m also thankful that this coming week, we’ll be celebrating the opening of a new Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Silverdale to provide health services for veterans. For too long, veterans in our region have dealt with inadequate and overcrowded facilities that have led to difficulties in accessing quality care. I’ve led the charge in recent years to increase the capacity of our region to treat local veterans, and this new facility has been a long time coming. It’s going to be a fantastic day, and I’m grateful to know that there will be a facility in our region that’s worthy of the service and sacrifice that veterans gave to our nation.

In addition, I recently joined a hearing of the Veterans Affairs Committee where they discussed the efforts to implement a new electronic health record within the VA. I want to make sure that this transition is smooth and seamless for our veterans. You can watch our discussion here

Thankful for Jobs in our Region

As someone who spent a decade working in economic development professionally, the main focus of my office is on JOBS. Our goal is to create more economic opportunities for more people in more places.

That’s why I’m working to protect jobs at Naval Base Kitsap. It’s why I’ve introduced bills to expand access to broadband and workforce training. It’s why I’ve been working to support our traditional industries like fishing, shellfish growing, and timber. And it’s why I spend so much time reaching out to local workers and local employers to figure out how I can lend a hand.

I’m also thankful for our region’s employers who provide good jobs and good wages and who export products all around the world. That’s why last week, I joined a bipartisan coalition in supporting the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. Reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank is really important for small businesses in our region and more broadly for export-dependent states like Washington. As the official national export credit agency, the bank is an essential tool in the trade toolbox that helps enable American-made products to be sold around the world and supports the growth of our local jobs. The broad support for this bill is a testament to the hard work of my friend (and roommate in DC) Denny Heck who has spent years on this issue. This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful that Congress has taken action to support the growth of local businesses in our region to ship Washington-made and American-made goods around the world.

Thankful for Efforts to Make Government More Accountable

I’m thankful for our system of government. I know that democracy can be messy? but it’s certainly better than the alternative. 

I came to Congress with two goals in mind: to see the economy work better for people in our region and to see government work better for them too. I don’t want to see a government that is dysfunctional, corrupt, and unable to make progress on delivering health care, jobs, and education for the folks I represent. That’s why I chose to seek this job. It’s why I get on a plane each week and spend time away from my wife and daughters.

I certainly didn’t come to Congress to pursue impeachment, but it’s a good thing that we have a system of checks and balances which works to ensure integrity. I understand that the impeachment inquiry drives passion on all sides. Having said that, the testimony delivered over the past two weeks - suggesting that the President pressured a foreign government to undertake public investigations targeting his political opponent - has been harrowing. While there’s still work to be done, I’m grateful that the House is conducting a fair, transparent, and responsible investigation into these allegations.

Beyond that, I’m thankful for those who are not content with the outcomes we are seeing.  Congress just punted again on the effort to fund the government - passing a measure to fund the federal government for just one month. In my opinion, that’s not good enough. While the House passed bills to fund 96% of the federal government before this past July, the Senate has not been keeping up. There needs to be an agreement to fund the government long-term and give our federal agencies and workers certainty that the federal government will pay its bills. Federal workers should not have to worry about another government shutdown.

As many of you may know, I’m chairing a committee that’s taking a serious look at some of these issues and working to make Congress work better for the American people. We’re making real progress - and have passed nearly 30 bipartisan recommendations to increase transparency, improve the way Congress communicates with constituents, and increase accessibility. I’m thankful that the House recently voted to extend this work - and ensure that this committee can make more progress to make Congress more modern, efficient, and responsive to your needs.  

Beyond that, many of you know that I also chair a group in Congress called the Bipartisan Working Group. It’s a group of a dozen Democrats and a dozen Republicans who meet each week for breakfast in hopes of finding some common ground. I’m thankful for those who are willing to make the effort to try to set aside the partisan bickering and actually work to solve some problems. In fact, last week, I joined a group of my colleagues for a bipartisan Thanksgiving dinner where we broke bread together. For those of you who may be getting together with friends and family who may have different political views than you have, the Bipartisan Policy Center has put together a “survival guide” for your Thanksgiving dinner. You can check it out here

Finally... I’m Thankful For...

PIE - I am incredibly excited to dive into a pumpkin pie on Thursday.

More importantly, I’m thankful for the roof over my head, for my friends, and for my family.  I’m hoping to have the opportunity to spend a little bit of quality time with them this holiday season.

OK - that’s it for now. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

As always, I’m honored to represent you.