07.07.20

Investing in Jobs

Hello Folks –

This year, the celebration of Independence Day felt a little bit different. This was my first time in years without parades, pancake breakfasts, and other 4th of July revelry. Instead, I was home with Jen and my kiddos (and - yes - the grill was used and I did watch Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum defeat space aliens on the AMC Network). Despite the circumstances of the year, I hope you were able to spend time with your family.

For those who - like me - were bummed that they couldn’t share this weekend with extended family, here’s a quick glimpse of a young Derek Kilmer with some old school fireworks up in Port Angeles!

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Speaking of fireworks... I just got back to D.C. for this year’s appropriations process. I’ll be actively working toward a smooth process this year that averts potential shutdowns and helps us build a better future for our country.

Now, on to the news!

Solving the Climate Crisis

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have a sense of urgency about addressing climate change. That urgency is driven, in part, by the fact that we are already seeing its impacts. 

In our region, our coastal tribes are moving to higher ground due to rising sea levels and more severe storms. Catastrophic wildfires have threatened the health and safety of communities. And our region’s largest employer – the Department of Defense – has identified climate change as a “threat multiplier” that makes our world less safe. This shouldn’t be surprising. We’ve seen decades of scientific evidence that climate change will lead to devastating environmental, economic, public health, and national security consequences. 

Climate change is real, and it requires bold action.

That’s why, last week, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled a comprehensive set of big, bold, actionable ideas that will put us on a path to achieving the critical goal of economy-wide, net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The comprehensive plan, entitled “Solving the Climate Crisis: The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America,” lays out a roadmap for solving the climate crisis. These recommendations can power economic recovery through clean energy investment and family-sustaining jobs and address the legacy of environmental injustices that have disproportionately harmed America’s low-income communities and communities of color.

The Climate Crisis Action Plan calls on Congress to:

  • Grow the economy and put Americans back to work in clean energy jobs;
  • Protect the health of all families;
  • Make sure communities and farmers can withstand the impacts of climate change; and
  • Protect America’s land and waters for the next generation.

As part of the comprehensive congressional action plan, the Select Committee recommended that Congress move to pass FIVE bills that I have introduced to combat climate change – four of which already passed the House but await action in the Senate.

  • The Ocean Acidification Innovation Act: bipartisan legislation to expand the ability to research, monitor, and manage ocean acidification and its impacts.
  • The Tribal Coastal Resiliency Act: bipartisan legislation to provide dedicated resources to Native American tribes living in coastal areas to support their efforts to mitigate threats caused by climate change and sea level rise.
  • The Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act: a package of bipartisan bills to protect vulnerable coastal and Great Lakes communities impacted by climate change. The package creates programs to support Tribal, State, and local community projects that protect, restore, and preserve coastal zones and working waterfronts; helps communities prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change; and improves data collection and monitoring to strengthen coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes management.
  • The Wild Olympics Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers Act: legislation to permanently protect more than 126,000 acres of public land as wilderness and 19 rivers and their major tributaries as Wild and Scenic Rivers. This carefully balanced bill was developed through years of extensive input from local communities, business, and other stakeholders. In addition to protecting these old growth forests, the bill would provide critical protections for salmon and steelhead habitat, and clean drinking water for local communities, while enhancing opportunities for the outdoor recreation community.
  • The P3 Act: legislation I introduced with my colleague Rep. Denny Heck to help communities and businesses invest in green infrastructure and reduce stormwater runoff in bodies of water like the Puget Sound.

In addition to the bills I introduced that were included as recommendations, I’ve co-sponsored many of the bills included in the report, including the Climate Action Now Act to have the United States re-enter the Paris Climate Agreement, as well as the 100% Clean Economy Act to put the United States on a path to economy-wide net-zero by 2050 at the latest.

At this critical moment, I’m excited that this Committee has introduced a comprehensive action plan for Congress to build a clean energy economy that values workers, prioritizes environmental justice, and is prepared to meet the challenges of the climate crisis. You can read the full report here: https://climatecrisis.house.gov/report

Rebuilding Our Infrastructure and Investing in Jobs

In 2019, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ report card for the Evergreen State gave our infrastructure a “C” rating – or “mediocre.” Though that’s slightly better than our nation-wide “D+” rating in 2017, we know that there is plenty of work to do.

That’s why I’m happy to report that last week, the House passed H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, which would invest more than $1.5 trillion to create good-paying jobs, build a greener future, and take real steps to begin to modernize our roads, bridges and water systems, invest in schools, and bridge the digital divide.

You can read more about the comprehensive bill here – but here’s a quick rundown of what H.R. 2 would do:

  • Rebuilds and reimagines the nation’s transportation infrastructure by fixing our crumbling roads and bridges, improving safety, reducing gridlock, and putting the U.S. on a path toward zero emissions from the transportation sector.
  • Invests in schools with the Reopen and Rebuild America’s Schools Actto help students get back to school and create more than 2 million jobs.
  • Addresses structural challenges and upgrades childcare facilities to ensure that childcare settings are safe, appropriate, and able to comply with current and future public health directives.
  • Invests over into our nation’s affordable housing infrastructure to create or preserve 1.8 million affordable homes to help reduce housing inequality, create jobs, and stimulate the broader economy.
  • Protects access to safe drinking water to ensure all communities have clean drinking water and to help remove dangerous contaminants like PFAS from local water systems. 
  • Modernizes our energy infrastructure for a clean energy future to transform our electric grid to accommodate more renewable energy, expand renewable energy, strengthen existing infrastructure, and support energy efficiency, weatherization, and Smart Communities infrastructure.
  • Delivers affordable high-speed broadband Internet access to all parts of the country to get children connected to remote learning, closes broadband adoption and digital skills gaps, and enhances payment support for low-income households and the recently unemployed. 
  • Modernizes the nation’s health care infrastructure to upgrade hospitals to increase capacity and strengthen care, help community health centers respond to COVID-19, support the Indian Health Service’s infrastructure, and increase capacity for community-based care.
  • Modernizes and strengthens the United States Postal Service to modernize postal infrastructure and operations.
  • Promotes new renewable energy infrastructure by incentivizing the development of wind and solar on public lands and building a workforce for offshore wind.

Importantly, as the representative of a region that is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, I know how critical our airports are to our emergency preparedness and disaster response. That’s why I was glad that the Moving Forward Act included an amendment I introduced to expand eligibility for critical infrastructure projects that increase the resiliency of airports against earthquakes, hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and other natural disasters. This would ensure that smaller airports serving the disaster preparedness needs of rural communities, like Fairchild in Port Angeles, aren’t left behind.

Overall – this is an important bill that passed the House with bipartisan support. I’m hopeful that the Senate will take it up in short order.

Working for You

Lowering Health Care Costs and Prescription Drug Prices

For too long, too many Americans have struggled to get adequate, affordable health care. Despite the fact that we are in the middle of a major pandemic and despite the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded coverage and secured critical protections for millions of Americans, the Trump Administration just pushed in court for a complete and total repeal of the law. That doesn’t make sense. That’s why I’m working to protect healthcare and build on the success of the ACA. And that’s why last week, Congress passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act, which does just that – building on the ACA’s successes to lower health costs and prescription drug prices for middle-class families and cover millions more people. Hear more about the bill here:

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Helping Our Local Employers

The Paycheck Protection Program helps our Main Street employers keep folks on payroll and ensure working families have the support they need. Last week, Congress moved to extend the program to ensure that local employers can get the help they need. If you have any questions regarding the resources available to local employers, you can check out my website or give my office a call.

Achieving Quality Health Care for Native American Communities

Native Americans are being disproportionately affected by COVID-19. That’s why last week, I held a town hall conversation with Seattle Indian Health Board CEO Esther Lucero to talk about how we can work together to achieve quality health care for our Native American communities. You can re-watch the conversation by clicking on the video below.

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OK – that’s it for now folks. Take care of yourselves, and one another.

As always, I’m honored to represent you.

Sincerely,

Derek