Come Together

Raise your hand if you are able to jump in a canoe, push off from Seattle, travel 200 miles over waterways, and finally pull up to the Campbell River in Canada (Full disclosure: I am not raising my hand right now).

With August starting tomorrow I wanted to highlight a remarkable group of Native Americans in our state that are doing just that by participating in the annual Canoe Journey.

On August 5th about 100 canoes will land on the Campbell River Spit after paddling through ancient marine highways in Washington once traveled by tribal ancestors. Along the way, tribes like the Lower Elwha Klallam are welcoming participants ashore for food and fellowship. In fact, Hollywood Beach was one of the very stops just last week!

I was struck by one detail in particular from the story in the Peninsula Daily News. The welcomers who came to the beach in Port Angeles sang “we are one” as Jamestown S’Klallam and Nisqually Indian canoers paddled closer after a long day on the water. The teams on the water have to work together. But they are also relying on the generosity of other tribal members on shore to help them reach their destination.

Tribal members sing on Hollywood Beach after canoes from the Nisqually Indian Tribe and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe arrived in Port Angeles on Monday afternoon. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

It reminded me of one of my favorite sayings – that the boat moves best with all the oars in the water, rowing in the same direction; the oars can’t be out the water with folks beating each other over the head with them. All too often it seems like folks in Congress are focused on taking out the oars to give each other lumps.

It’s worth remembering and embracing those words: we are one. We are stronger when we come together. We are stronger when we recognize that the economy might be getting better, but folks are still struggling. They are worried about a future they feel might not be as bright for the next generation. Parents are worried about paying for some form of college for their kid without breaking the bank. Young people are worried about finding a job and career that lasts. Older Americans are concerned they won’t be able to retire with dignity.

These concerns all too often aren’t listened to in Washington D.C.

There are a lot of opportunities to work together to address your concerns. For example, Democrats and Republicans should work together to ensure all Americans have access to affordable health care. Rather than partisan plans being cooked up behind closed doors, the public should have a voice in the process.

Democrats and Republicans should work together to deal with our nation’s long-term fiscal challenges. Congress should pass a bipartisan budget. 

Democrats and Republicans should work together on fixing a broken tax code and strengthening American infrastructure.

And it should listen to you!

I try and remain accountable and accessible to you so I can bring your voices into the halls of Congress. Over the coming weeks I hope you’ll join me as I hold another series of town halls. It will be a chance for me to share a bit about where we need to go and hear from you on how we should get there.

Take a look at the schedule here!

Sunday, August 6, 2017                                                                

Jefferson County Town Hall

2:00PM – 3:30PM

Chimacum High School - Auditorium

91 West Valley Road

Chimacum, WA 98325.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Pierce County Town Hall

5:30PM – 7:00PM

Tacoma Community College – Building 2, Auditorium

*Please park in lots G and H*

Map: https://www.tacomacc.edu/campusmap/TCC_map.pdf

6501 S 19th St
Tacoma, WA  98466

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Clallam County Town Hall

5:30PM – 7:00PM

Peninsula College, The Little Theater (In Building J, the Pirate Union Building)

1502 E Lauridsen Blvd

Port Angeles, WA 98362

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kitsap County Town Hall

5:30PM – 7:00PM

North Kitsap High School – Auditorium

1881 NE Hostmark St, Poulsbo, WA 98370


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mason County Town Hall

North Mason High School – Auditorium

5:30PM – 7:00PM

200 E Campus Dr.

Belfair, WA 98528


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Grays Harbor County Town Hall

2:00PM – 3:30PM

Aberdeen High School – Auditorium

410 N G St

Aberdeen, WA 98520


Earning an education

If you serve your country we should always have your back. As someone who represents tens of thousands of military veterans, servicemembers and their families, I don’t take that commitment lightly. That’s why I was pleased to lend my support for a bill that passed the House of Representatives without any opposition whatsoever – a revamped GI Bill.

For a quick refresher, the GI Bill was first created as troops started to funnel home from the battlefields of World War II. Our country faced a choice; these servicemembers had stood up for freedom over tyranny and made enormous sacrifices. Could we help them transition and offer them assistance so they could embark on careers in the civilian workforce?

The answer was a resounding yes. Starting with veterans from World War II, the GI Bill opened the doors to higher education and is an extraordinary success story.

Now, all these years later, we wanted to ensure that men and women who have served in conflicts in our time had a GI Bill that reflects the changing education landscape. A bill that can help a servicemember – whether they want to be a computer scientist, a banker, an app developer, or medical technician – get ahead.

So the GI Bill that passed the House does a few key things. It removes time restrictions to access benefits from the GI Bill, so future recipients can tap into them over the course of a lifetime. In addition, it boosts funding for Reservists and Guardsmen, dependents, surviving spouses, and surviving dependents.

You can read more about the good news in the Military Times.

Supporting apprenticeships of all kinds

Regular readers have probably heard me talk about the importance of apprenticeships. That’s why I’m excited about a bipartisan bill I cosponsored to support these career-connected learning opportunities.

Often times, when folks think about technology jobs, they think of careers that require a lengthy, specialized education. Certainly, there are a lot of jobs that require an advanced degree in computer science.

But there are some career pathways in technology that look a lot more like the kind of skilled manufacturing and industrial jobs that helped build the middle class in our state. And the path to obtaining one of these jobs can look a lot like the path that has been used successfully by folks to earn a decent wage at the Navy shipyard or at a Boeing factory: apprenticeships.

Our bill would kick-start new tech apprenticeship programs. There are a lot of details on what the bill does, so if you want a deeper dive, check out this post I wrote on my Medium page.

Getting our fiscal house in order

As Congress broke for the August work period, it had failed to address a number of key fiscal issues.

Congress had failed to take action on the debt limit. The debt limit suspension expired on March 15.  Since then, the Treasury Department has been using what’s known as “extraordinary measures” to continue paying America’s bills. It’s expected that the Treasury Department will run out of those options by October. If Congress fails to take action, the resulting default would damage the economy and make it more expensive for folks to borrow money to buy a car or home, or to start or grow a small business.

I think America should pay its bills. And I also think Congress should get a handle on our long-term fiscal challenges. The debt is real, and I think it’s a mistake not to do something about it.  With that in mind, I’ve been pushing for a bipartisan effort to pass a real budget.

Having said that, the budget process in Congress has been a mess too. Usually Congress is expected to have passed a budget by April 15. As we roll into August, Congress hasn’t even voted on a budget. 

What’s more, the House hasn’t passed two-thirds of the appropriations bills needed to be passed by the end of September. The Senate hasn’t taken up any yet. If Congress fails to pass these spending bills by September 31, you’d see another government shutdown.

No family would budget this way. No business would take the approach Congress is taking.

Government funding bills are being passed without any sense of an overall budget. That would be like a family deciding how much to spend on home remodeling without knowing their other expenses – or their income.

That’s not right. America needs a budget.

Failure to pass a budget will also lead us down the path of keeping across-the-board spending cuts known as sequestration. We know what happened last time these kicked in – it was incredibly damaging to our region as we saw things like shipyard workers being forced to take furloughs.

I feel so strongly about the need to pass a budget, I sponsored a bill known as “No Budget, No Pay.” It says that if Congress can’t do its job and pass a budget, members of Congress shouldn’t get paid.

Please know that I’ll continue fighting for a more responsible path.

Working for you  

Was an honor to visit with Teacher of the Year Nathan Gibbs-Bowling from Tacoma's Lincoln High School and his wife (and another terrific teacher) Hope Teague-Bowling in DC. Anyone who can explain the civil rights movement using Star Wars is a hero in my book (check out http://www.thenewstribune.com/…/educat…/article97237672.html). Thanks to all of the great educators out there!

i had a blast at the Allyn Days Geoduck Festival. It was fun serving as MC for oyster shucking. Also I got to meet some of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers team (and a geoduck), got to see the famous Xinh, and ate some delicious geoduck wontons.

Thanks to the Quileute Tribe and everyone out in LaPush for the warm welcome during the Quileute Days Parade.

OK. that’s it for now. If I can ever lend a hand to you or someone else you know, please give me a holler. I hope to see you in August at one of my town hall meetings!

As always, it’s an honor to represent you.

Derek Kilmer