Big News on New Federal Investments in Our Region
Hello Folks –
I hope this finds you well. It’s been a busy few weeks – so let’s dive right in.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I have the opportunity to play a meaningful role in helping decide what investments our government makes. It’s an opportunity to support investments for our region that will create jobs and economic opportunity, help underserved populations, fulfill unmet federal obligations, and support the communities I serve. This year, I’ve been able to make progress on that front for a number of projects – and last week, President Biden signed into law a spending bill that includes nearly $23 million in funding for projects in our neck of the woods. On to the details!
Building Affordable Housing & Creating Jobs in Tacoma
Our region had challenges with affordable housing and homelessness before the COVID-19 pandemic – and those challenges have only been exacerbated by it. The federal government needs to be a strong partner as we work to address those challenges. That’s why I’m thrilled that the President signed into law federal funding I’ve been advocating for to advance two important projects to increase affordable housing and create more jobs on the Hilltop in Tacoma.
First, the legislation included funding for the Tacoma Housing Authority’s Hilltop Housing and Commercial project to begin redeveloping three parcels of land. This project will bring approximately 200 units of affordable housing and approximately 20,000 sq. ft. of commercial space for predominately BIPOC-owned businesses. Additionally, I was able to secure federal funding for the Hilltop Attainable Housing and Businesses Development project, which aims to provide more housing, create more jobs, and to help ensure the residential and business spaces will be attainable to community residents and BIPOC-owned businesses!
Protecting Grays Harbor
On our region’s coasts, we know that a number of communities are at risk of severe flooding due to a combination of whether related events, king tides, and rising sea levels. That’s why for years, the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam have been working to build substantial flood protection through two levees. That effort took a big step forward this week when President Biden signed into law nearly $10 million in new federal funding that I advocated for to support the Aberdeen-Hoquiam Flood Protection Project. This funding will help the cities build two levees to help protect the cities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam against coastal flood events between the Wishkah and Hoquiam rivers north of the Chehalis River and Grays Harbor Estuary.
Moving forward with this project is a win-win for our region. It means the community can address flooding and avoid future property damage. It means the community can enable future investments in affordable housing and economic development in the region by pulling some of these properties out of the flood plain. And it means that we won’t see so much money leave the community to pay for flood insurance. What's more, the cost of this project shouldn’t fall on the backs of taxpayers in Grays Harbor. That’s why I’m thrilled that I was able to help secure a federal investment in this project and invest in the future of our region.
Revitalizing Downtown Bremerton
I was also excited that the President signed into law new funding I advocated for to support the City of Bremerton’s Quincy Square Project – which aims to revitalize a downtown area – with investments in affordable housing and a day-to-night urban center with focused arts, entertainment, and evening-centric retail spaces.
This new funding will assist the construction phase of Quincy Square—providing critical support to help complete street reconstruction, landscape and stormwater improvements, and lighting and pedestrian improvements, among other things. This new investment will leverage public investment to honor the great Quincy Jones and help build long-term vitality in Bremerton’s downtown business core.
Restoring the Duckabush Estuary in Mason County
In our region, we know that the Duckabush Estuary Restoration Project is a big deal when it comes to improving a critical ecosystem that can create more viable habitat for fish and wildlife, including endangered salmon species – and when it comes to reducing severe flooding events that occur at the mouth of the Duckabush River. As part of that effort, the restoration project aims to reconnect the Duckabush River to neighboring floodplains and wetlands by modifying local roads, elevating Highway 101, and rerouting utilities.
As investments are made to reroute utilities and take other steps to make this project a success, it’s important that the federal government is a strong partner so that the costs don’t fall on local ratepayers. That’s why I’m excited to report that last week’s bill includes funding that I’ve been advocating for to assist Mason PUD 1’s efforts to relocate the distribution power line, in coordination with the restoration project, to continue providing service to residences and businesses.
Investing in STEM Education on the Peninsula
When students study Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), they aren't just learning vital skills; they are receiving the foundation that can lead to a future job. With these skills they can engineer a new airplane or boat, develop new energy technologies to combat the climate crisis, or invent new technologies that will drive the country forward.
I’m thrilled that the President signed into law new federal funding I advocated for in order to support the West Sound STEM Network’s “Empowering the Peninsula” project. The project aims to increase geographic equity in STEM programming on the Olympic Peninsula, develop K-12 and higher education partnerships with representation from underserved populations, and expand outreach on the Peninsula. The funding will help West Sound STEM move forward with hiring new staff, establishing an Olympic Peninsula office, and provide funding for workshops, convenings, and industry familiarization events for underserved populations.
I’ll keep working to advance STEM education for students throughout our region so we can further support youth education in these crucial fields—which can help lead to more job opportunities for them in the future, more qualified employees for local employers, and more economic resiliency for our communities.
Assisting Tribal Relocation Efforts on Our Coasts
Climate change, rising sea levels, and the increased risk of tsunami are threatening coastal communities across our region – including the homelands of the Quileute Tribe, the Hoh Tribe, and the Quinault Indian Nation.
The federal government has an obligation to fulfill its trust and treaty responsibilities and to make sure that people aren’t put at risk. That’s why I’m proud that the President signed into law new funding for three projects that will help ensure these tribal communities get the support they need to build out infrastructure as they seek to move to higher ground and keep their people out of harm’s way.
I’ll keep pushing to see the federal government meet its trust and treaty responsibilities so we can keep people safe.
Helping Ensure Folks Can Live with Dignity
As someone who grew up in Port Angeles, I want to make sure all of the community’s residents have economic opportunity and can live with dignity. I know how important the Port Angeles Food Bank has been, and will continue to be, to ensuring folks in our region receive critical nutrition assistance when they need it most. For example, in 2020, the Port Angeles Food Bank supported approximately 13 area food pantries with over 5,000 households on the Olympic Peninsula – distributing an average 250,000 pound of food per month, or 200,000 meals per month.
As they help more folks across the region, the food bank has worked to finalize the purchase of their current building to help ensure they have a permanent location and consistent services for years to come. I’m proud that I was able to secure new funding to help make that happen. I’ll keep pushing to help ensure that food banks across our region have the support they need to continue to serve our communities.
Supporting Ukraine and the Ukrainian People
As you have likely seen over the past few weeks, President Putin has continued his reckless and unlawful invasion of Ukraine. It has long been an American value that we respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of our allies. Our nation has supported the notion that countries should be able to choose their own destinies without the threat of invasion. The United States must do all we can to support Ukraine and impose severe costs on Russia. Toward that end, in recent days, the United States has – in coordination with our allies – imposed harsh sanctions on Russia.
Last week, I attended President Zelenskyy's address to Congress to hear an update on the situation first hand. Since the last newsletter, I supported legislation to provide new funding to provide humanitarian, economic, and defense assistance to Ukraine. I also supported bipartisan legislation to impose new economic punishments on Russia by suspending normal trade relations and raising tariffs. By doing this, the U.S. will join our allies in further withholding funds from Vladimir Putin’s war chest.
Back home, I was proud to join the Ukrainian-American community in our region to show our region’s solidarity with the Ukrainian people. I will continue to support U.S.-government and NATO-led efforts to hold the Russian government accountable and to prevent further violence.
Working for You
Having the Backs of Our First Responders
I’m grateful for the firefighters, paramedics, and first responders across our region who serve our communities, keep folks safe, and save lives! I appreciated meeting with a number of them in DC to talk about how the federal government can be a strong partner. Count me on the home team!
Working with Local Leaders to Plan for the Future!
It was great to meet with Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards and the Tacoma City Council in DC last week to talk about new federal funding I secured for affordable housing and jobs on the Hilltop – and about how the new bipartisan infrastructure law can address the community’s needs. We also talked about how the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden last year, has helped the City serve residents and provide essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Supporting Small Businesses
It was great to stop by the Locust Cider cidery and tap room in Gig Harbor! Thanks to owner Jason Spears for giving me a tour and telling me the awesome Locust Cider story - a Washington-based business started in 2015 that now has taprooms in 3 states and ships delicious products to 40+ states, with more to come! Thanks for employing folks and doing business in our region.
Honoring Our Heroes and Their Families
Finally, yesterday I had an inspiring afternoon in Port Angeles for the celebration and open house for Captain Joseph House, a special place focused on supporting Gold Star Families. It’s more than a house – it’s the embodiment of an ethic that, if you serve this country, we should have your back and the backs of your family. Thanks so much to Betsy Reed Schultz and the people of Port Angeles who put so much energy into making this a reality.
OK – that’s it for now folks. As always, I’m honored to represent you.