01.07.19

New Year’s Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I hope your 2019 is off to a good start.Things have already been fast and furious on this end...I watched, mourned, and have already recovered from the Rose Bowl and the Seahawks-Cowboys losses. I turned another year older (January 1st was 45!). And I made a good chunk of New Year’s resolutions.

Some of them are personal. This year, I’m committed to eating better and getting more steps in (I want to average at least 11,000 steps per day. Last Thursday I hit 26,000, so we’re off to a good start).

But my resolutions aren’t all about my desire to fit back into my gray trousers.They are also related to my job as your representative. 

So, for this first newsletter of the new year, I wanted to share some things that I think Congress should work on in 2019.

Resolution 1:  Get Government Re-Opened and End The Gridlock

As I wrote a couple weeks back, government shutdowns are a bad idea. They’re bad for public employees. They’re bad for folks who depend on critical services. And they’re bad for local economies that are impacted--economies like ours, where the federal government is the largest employer.

To those affected by the current shutdown, please know that I’m doing all I can to get the government re-opened. In fact, the first bill the House passed this last week was a bill to end the government shutdown. The bill received strong support in the House - and is actually one that passed in the Senate with near-unanimous, bipartisan support just a few weeks ago. I’m hopeful that the Senate’s leadership will allow a vote on it and that the president will commit to signing it.

Having said that, the outlook isn’t very rosy right now. Despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans in the House and in the Senate have supported these funding bills, President Trump has said he will not sign a bill unless it meets his demand for billions of dollars for a border wall. 

I’m for border security - and have actually sponsored bipartisan bills to secure the border and address some of the root causes leading to migration at our southern border. But I view a $25+ billion wall as a 5th-century solution to a 21st century challenge. Homeland security experts tell us that technologies like sensors and drones and border agents can have far greater impact. 

And the $5 billion in wall funding that the president has demanded as a down-payment is real money! That amount could be used to provide medically-assisted opioid addiction treatment for more than 750,000 Americans. It could cover the Medicare prescription drug deductibles for 12.3 million seniors living in poverty. It could be used to cover the salaries of school nurses for two years. 

I know you’re the boss, and I’m doing all I can to make sure that the government re-opens as quickly as possible. I’m meeting with federal workers today to hear from them, and I’ll keep pushing for sanity in Washington, DC.

Resolution 2: Fix Congress

The House is a fixer-upper.You don’t have to watch C-SPAN or read the Washington Post to have a sense that things aren’t working the way they ought to.

Every time bills are written behind closed doors or passed without debate, when we see too much partisanship and not enough progress, folks justifiably lose faith in system.

As I’ve been saying for awhile, Congress needs to do better. 

With that in mind, I’m excited to share some big news - I was just named the Chairman of a new Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.

Every 20 years or so there has been an effort to reform and modernize the House. That’s been an acknowledgment that, like any other functional organization, it’s worth occasionally diagnosing what’s working and what isn’t and how performance can be improved.

This committee is tasked with looking at congressional rules, procedures, and schedules to help Congress work better. It’s directed to look at everything from developing the next generation of leaders, to staffing issues, to the use of technology. I think this has the potential to take some valuable steps forward as we work to get things back on track. 

I’m honored to have been chosen to lead the committee! We’ll be working hard on coming up with the ways to modernize Congress and get it working for the people again. Stay tuned for more on this in the months ahead!

Resolution 3: Clean Up Washington, DC.

Even the most modern Congress won’t work for the people if the system is broken. With that in mind, I’m excited that the first bill introduced in this Congress is a bill focused on cleaning up DC. And I was proud to co-sponsor that bill - H.R. 1, the For the People Act.

This bill is a sweeping package of reforms that focus on refreshing democracy. The For the People Act is focused around three main areas:

1. Making it easier, not harder to vote;
2. Ending the dominance of big money in our politics; and
3. Ensuring public officials work for the public interest.

The bill includes important reforms related to voting rights - like automatic voter registration, improved election security, and preventing states from restricting eligible voters from voting.

The bill would end the practice of gerrymandering, because voters should choose their elected officials rather than elected officials choosing their voters.

And, it makes bold proposals to reduce the role of money in politics - establishing citizen-financed elections to reduce the role of special interests and SuperPACS, expanding disclosure requirements so we know who is trying to influence our elections, and efforts to prevent foreign dollars from being spent in American elections.

I’m pleased to let you know that two of the reform bills I’ve been working to get passed, The Honest Ads Act, and a bill to fix the Federal Election Commission - the nation’s election watchdog - were included in the For the People Act.

The Honest Ads Act would establish disclosure requirements for online political ads similar to those currently required for television and radio. The internet shouldn’t be any different.

There’s a whole lot more, and you can read a full list of reforms here.

Resolution 4: Create More Jobs in Our Neck of The Woods

I see Congress’s main job as creating more economic opportunities for more people in more places. Regardless of your zip code, you should have the opportunity to earn a good living.

There’s plenty to do on that front in 2019. Among other things, I’m pushing for Congress to step up and invest in America’s infrastructure. America needs to upgrade its roads and bridges. We need to expand access to high-speed internet. We need to address the maintenance backlog in our national parks. I’ve co-sponsored bills on each of these topics.

In the weeks ahead, I’ll be introducing bills to strengthen career and technical education and to expand apprenticeships. And, I just co-sponsored a bill to protect Social Security so seniors can retire with dignity - now and in the future.

Beyond that, I’ll be continuing to push to expand opportunities in rural areas. If you’re a regular reader, you may know that the House recently passed a bill I worked on with Rep. Susan DelBene known as the Timber Innovation Act. That bill will expand the use of innovative wood products like cross laminated timber to enable more sustainable developments, healthier forests, and more jobs on the Peninsula. More on that here.

Resolution 5: Support Our Veterans

As you may have heard, hundreds of thousands of veterans aren’t receiving GI Bill benefits they’ve earned and deserve because of a VA computer glitch. This is unacceptable, and I’ve been pushing the VA to fix this problem.

Plain and simple: If you serve this country, the government should have your back. I will keep pushing to ensure the VA follows through on this. In 2019, America needs to make sure that the VA provides care and services that are worthy of our veterans. 

Resolution 6: Continue Being Available And Accessible And Accountable

Finally, I work for you! The most important part of my job is being responsive to you. With that in mind, I will be holding several town halls later this month. Stay tuned for details - there will be more information to come in my next newsletter and on social media!

Working For You

Supporting Local Businesses

Over the holidays, I had a great Kilmer At Your Company visit at Stadium Thriftway, a local independent grocery store doing business in our neck of the woods since 1985. 

Stadium Thriftway

Preserving Our History

Just before the holidays, I toured the Old City Hall in Tacoma and was able to ring the clock tower bell! They have a great vision for modernizing this building while still preserving this beautiful piece history. Stay tuned

Old City Hall Tacoma

Celebrating Our Diversity

The Mochi Tsuki Festival on Bainbridge Island was terrific once again! Thanks to the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and President Clarence Moriwaki for the mochi, origami lessons, and the amazing Taiko Drumming. Tess and I go every year - and we always have a blast!

Mochi


That’s all for now, folks! As always, don’t be afraid to holler if I can ever be of help.

Derek

PS -

Happy New Year from my family to yours! 

DK New Year