Finding Common Ground and Making Progress
Hello Friends –
Happy Super Monday! I hope you enjoyed the big game yesterday. It was an exciting game (and, as a Seahawks fan, I was happy to see the Niners lose). My favorite parts? The Groundhog Day commercial... and the food! I ate far too many chips, far too much dip, and way too many chicken wings. Actually, it was a pretty fun game (and my daughters have convinced me to become a fan of The Masked Singer).
Tomorrow, I’ll be heading back to DC, and the first order of business is the State of the Union address. I was asked by someone after my town hall this Saturday what I hoped to hear from President Trump on Tuesday night. There are a lot of differences between the resident’s priorities and mine. Having said that, most of the folks I represent want the President to work with Democrats and Republicans to solve some problems. In his address, I hope the President outlines some areas where he believes he can work with Congress to make progress on behalf of the American people. In fact, this morning, I joined a number of my colleagues in asking that President Trump address areas where the American people want folks in D.C. to find common ground and make progress, including:
- Improving access to quality, affordable health care. Unfortunately, the Administration has taken steps that have increased premiums and increased the number of uninsured Americans. There are opportunities to build on the progress of the Affordable Care Act and fix elements of our healthcare system that need fixing. That should be a priority that both parties can get behind.
- Following through on a commitment to rebuild America’s crumbling infrastructure. It’s hard for America to compete in a 21st Century economy with 19th Century infrastructure. There aren’t Democratic roads or Republican bridges, so this ought to be an area where the two parties and collaborate.
- Prioritizing a future that works for all Americans. In the midst of disruptive economic change, it’s important to ensure that American workers are empowered to navigate those changes rather than be victimized by them. Investments in education and training, efforts to increase wages, and strengthening protections for workers can ensure that more people in more places have economic opportunity.
- Restoring America’s role in the world. It’s time to reengage constructively with our allies and restore our role as a leader. That can improve America’s security and economy.
- Taking action to build long-lasting solutions to reduce carbon emissions. The clean energy sector will be a core driver of economic growth and job creation. There are a number of common-sense, bipartisan proposals that would represent concrete action to curb carb emissions, spur economic growth and create jobs.
I feel so strongly about the need to make progress on that last priority, I’m bringing a special guest to the State of the Union: Kitsap County resident Mike Kelly. Mike, a small businessowner who lives with his family on Bainbridge Island, is the Congressional District Liaison in our region for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a non-profit, nonpartisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on policies to combat climate change.
I’ve been working actively to see the United States take action to step up to the climate crisis. Thankfully, I’m not alone. In fact, folks across our region and across the country are stepping up to raise awareness about the need to act. Mike Kelly, local organizers, and the team at Citizens Climate Lobby are helping to lead the way.
I’m proud to have Mike attend the State of the Union to continue the call for the President to listen to the American people who are not just demanding action - but leadership - to combat climate change and its impacts. We know that if we do this right, we can not only help our planet - we can create quality jobs and sustainable economic growth.
You can read all about what Mike’s attendance means to him in the Kitsap Sun.
There are plenty of policy differences between me and this Administration, but in an era of divided government, progress requires collaboration. I hope we hear that commitment to working together from him tomorrow, too. Now, on to the news…
Taking Action to Keep America Safe
In recent weeks, there’s been a lot of discussion about rising tensions between the United States and Iran. As I’ve traveled across our region, I’ve heard from folks who are deeply concerned about this escalation - and I share those concerns.
Ultimately, the American people do not want - and Congress has not authorized - another war in the Middle East. Our servicemembers and diplomats who serve there, including the ones I visited in Iraq this past November, deserve a strategy that keeps them safe, enhances our security, and fosters long term stability in the region.
Last week, Congress passed two bills I co-sponsored to reclaim the Constitutional authority of Congress to declare war and authorize the use of military force, an authority that has eroded over the last two decades. You can hear more about that here:
Ensuring Future Generations Never Forget
Every year on Holocaust Memorial Day, we honor the millions of innocent people who lost their lives. Families across the world have their own stories of this dark chapter in our world’s history.
This year on Holocaust Memorial Day, which coincided this year with the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, the House passed the “Never Again Education Act” - bipartisan legislation I supported to strengthen Holocaust education efforts in America so future generations can continue to learn these stories.
This bill will provide fundamental resources, education, and training for teachers and students across the country to ensure we continue to educate our communities and future generations on the lessons of the Holocaust - and ultimately promote the importance of preventing genocide, hate, and bigotry against any group of people.
Continuing the Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic
Across our country, synthetic opioids like fentanyl have been one of the leading causes of drug overdoses and fatalities. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about 41% of the 70,200 drug overdoses in the United States in 2017 were caused by fentanyl and illicit chemical copycats of the drug, which is 100 times more potent than morphine. And in 2018, there were over 30,000 fentanyl-related overdose deaths alone.
In response, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in 2018 placed a temporary emergency order to classify all fentanyl analogues as Schedule 1 drugs (meaning they have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use). This temporary order increased restrictions in terms of access, manufacturing, and use - and has led to the supply of new fentanyl analogues dropping by 75 percent.
Last week, the House took bipartisan action to extend the temporary order on these drugs for 15 more months, overwhelmingly passing the Temporary Reauthorization and Study of the Emergency Scheduling of Fentanyl Analogues Act. The bill will also require the Government Accountability Office to produce a report within 12 months on the public health and safety effects of controlling fentanyl-related substances as Schedule 1.
While its only a temporary solution, it’s a start. I’m hopeful that Congress will continue to work to develop common-sense, long-term solutions to the opioid crisis.
Working for You
Honoring Our Veterans
Want to be inspired?!? Listen to this story...
I recently held a Vietnam Veterans pinning ceremony in Tacoma to say thank you to Vietnam-era vets on behalf of a grateful nation. About halfway through the event, we got a call that a group of veterans was on its way from the Retsil Veterans’ Home in Kitsap County but that they would be an hour late. Having already pinned everyone in attendance, I made an announcement that more vets were on the way, and I asked if folks would be willing to stick around to thank the folks who were coming from Retsil. I was so moved that every single person stuck around. One veteran said to me, “You know, a lot of us have waited forty or fifty years to get thanked. I can wait a few minutes to honor these folks coming from Retsil.”
WOW! It was a real testament to the awesome character of our community - and of the veterans who have served our country. I’m grateful for everyone that came out for this special event.
Celebrating Team Kitsap
The economic forecast for Kitsap County is bright thanks to the presence of the incredible employers, innovative educational partners, and the economic development A-Team that is the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance. It was great to join them to talk about opportunities for the future. Count me as a proud member of Team Kitsap!
Supporting Washington’s Ocean Economy
I’m committed to supporting Washington’s ocean economy. I enjoyed the opportunity to be in Grays Harbor to hear from members of the fishing community and discuss a new bill I introduced to improve the federal fishery disaster process and ensure more timely disaster relief for impacted communities. I’m also working as a member of the Appropriations Committee to restore our salmon populations.
Helping Our Seniors
Seniors today are facing unique challenges. That’s why I was grateful for the opportunity to hold a seniors town hall at the Willows Retirement Living in Bremerton to hear from folks and to talk about the work I’m doing to ensure Congress protects Medicare & Social Security, lowers the cost of prescription drug prices, and keeps our nation’s promise to take care of older Americans.
Hearing from You at Town Halls
Speaking of town halls... I held a town hall in Suquamish on Saturday where we talked about opportunities to reduce student debt and ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.
Couldn’t come? Join me February 10th at 5:30pm PT for a Facebook Live Town Hall. It’s always important for me to be available, accessible, and accountable to you.
OK - that’s it for now folks. As always, I’m honored to represent you.
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