Resolutions for the New Year
Hello Folks -
Happy New Year!
I hope your year is off to a great start so far. I’m feeling great about that Seahawks victory yesterday (and am excited to get some Philadelphia pretzels from my colleague Brendan Boyle from PA who lost a friendly bet to me!).
The holiday season provided time to reflect on an eventful 2019, and to think about my resolutions for the new year ahead. There are always some that are personal. For example, last year, I challenged myself to be more active and average at least 12,000 steps per day. I’m happy to report that I finished out the year at a daily average of 12,618 steps (my dog Truman was a trooper over the last few weeks as we bumped up that average a final few steps!).
Importantly, I also had the opportunity to take time to make resolutions regarding my work on your behalf. I’m honored to represent you, and I’m eager to do all I can to champion the needs of our region.
So, for my first newsletter of this new year, I thought I’d share some of those resolutions with you.
Resolution 1: Make Congress Work Better for the American People
Congress is a fixer-upper - but I’m pushing for reforms to make the institution more responsive to and representative of the needs and aspirations of the American people.
As many readers of this newsletter might know, I was honored to be named Chairman of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a committee that’s been nicknamed the “Fix Congress” Committee.
That’s not a new idea. In fact, about every 20 years or so there has been an effort to reform and modernize the House. And there’s widely been an acknowledgment that, like any other organization, it’s worth occasionally diagnosing what’s working and what isn’t and how performance can be improved.
Over the past year, the Select Committee has held 14 hearings and numerous briefings and listening sessions to solicit ideas and recommendations for reforming the legislative branch.
And I’m proud to report that the committee has already unanimously passed 45 recommendations! These recommendations, approved by all Republicans and Democrats on the Committee, aim to increase transparency for constituents, modernize the institution to improve operations, increase civility, save taxpayer dollars, and get the institution working for the American people again.
The House acted late last year to extend the work of this committee for another year so that Congress can make more progress on this front - so I’m committing to continue this work to get Congress back on track and working for YOU.
You can read more about the Committee’s recent work and what’s around the corner here:
- The Washington Post: A bipartisan committee has ideas to make Congress more bipartisan — and lawmakers are listening
- Roll Call: The fix-up-Congress committee takes on a fresh agenda for 2020
- FedScoop: Committee on modernizing Congress knows what it wants from the House
- Christian Science Monitor: Editorial Board: Where Republicans and Democrats work together to ‘fix Congress’
In addition, I’m working hard on several bills to reduce the role of money in politics. Whether it’s strengthening the Federal Elections Commission to keep politicians from cheating, reducing the role of special interests, or increasing transparency, I want to make sure our government works for YOU!
Resolution 2: Continue Being Available, Accessible, and Accountable to YOU
My number one priority is serving you. As your representative, I take great pride in being accountable, accessible, and responsive to each and every one of you. That’s why this past year, my team and I have been working harder than ever to be there for you, to get back to you, to help you with federal agencies, and to hear your concerns, thoughts and ideas first-hand.
So, I thought I’d share a quick list of some of the 2019 highlights:
Everyone on Team Kilmer is committed to helping folks in our region every way we can. I value opportunities to hear from you directly and to make sure you are treated fairly by our government. Whether you need help getting a passport, applying for a federal grant, or are grappling with a federal agency and having trouble getting the answer you need - please shoot us a note. And if you have a concern or an idea or you’re looking for my opinion on something - reach out. I want to hear from you. I’m committed to getting back to you, to helping you as best I can, and to making progress for our region.
Resolution 3: Create More Economic Opportunity
As many of you know, before I became your representative, I worked in economic development professionally. Although my title has changed, in many respects, my job hasn’t. I’m committed to growing jobs and bringing economic opportunity to more people in more places.
Last year, Congress made some progress on that front - securing a 3.1% pay raise for servicemembers and civilian federal workers, protecting pensions for more than 1 million workers and retirees, expanding opportunities for Americans to increase their retirement savings, making fixes to end unjust and unfair taxes on military families, and passing a handful of laws focused on supporting small businesses.
On top of that, we saw progress in the House for several other important economic priorities that are awaiting action in the Senate. The House passed bills raising the federal minimum wage to give a raise to 33 million Americans, strengthening the 1963 Equal Pay Act to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work, championing a new trade agreement to grow jobs while protecting workers and the environment, and reducing prescription drug prices, among other things.
In the New Year, I’ll continue to be focused on growing economic opportunity in our region and creating new jobs. I’ve already introduced legislation on a number of fronts that I think can make a difference - like expanding access to broadband to help rural communities get in on the economic growth, equipping American workers with the skills and training they need to compete in today's economy, giving students in need access to more financial aid, and helping address the much-needed repairs at Olympic National Park and throughout the National Park System to ensure our parks can serve as economic drivers for rural communities. I’m working to get those bills across the finish line.
As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I’m also pushing to ensure that our nation is investing in priorities that help our region and strengthen economic security. I’ll be advocating for Congress to address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure, to find additional solutions to combat climate change while unleashing new opportunities for jobs and growth in the private sector, to ensure that small business owners have the tools they need to support growth, and to expand access to affordable housing.
If you’ve got an idea on how else we can create more economic opportunity or you’re doing something innovative that you think help boost jobs in our region - let me know - I’d love to hear about it or lend a hand.
Resolution 4: Keep America Safe and Continue Standing up for our Servicemembers and Veterans
I’m proud to represent more military families and veterans than nearly any other representative in Congress. Our region is stronger because of the men and women who serve our country and choose to make this their home. In my view, it’s vital that we have their backs. That has been my priority, and will continue to be my priority, in 2020.
That’s why I’ll continue advocating for smart investments in Naval Base Kitsap. It’s why I’ll continue advocating for our military veterans so they can get the health care and other benefits they’ve earned (in fact, if you or someone you know needs a hand dealing with the VA, please reach out). It’s why I’ll continue working on legislation to assist servicemembers as they transition into the civilian workforce.
I’m also committed to doing all I can to ensure America’s foreign policy is both strong and smart. I’ve heard from a lot of folks in our region who are concerned about rising tensions with Iran. I share those concerns.
There is no doubt that the actions of Gen. Qassem Soleimani fueled instability in the Middle East and served as a threat to the security of the United States, its allies, and the entire world.
That said, America’s actions in the Middle East need to be tied to a clear strategy. I visited our servicemembers and diplomats in Iraq less than two months ago. Those brave Americans deserve a strategy that enhances their security and that will not put them at further risk. The American people deserve to know the strategy for fostering long-term stability in that region - rather than actions that further escalate an already tense situation. The American people don’t want - and Congress has not authorized - another war in the Middle East. In fact, this week the House will be voting on a resolution to limit the President’s military actions regarding Iran. This resolution embraces the oversight responsibilities of Congress - making clear that, if no further Congressional action is taken, the Administration’s military hostilities related to Iran must cease within 30 days. I intend to support this resolution.
I don’t support any administration having a blank check to get the US into another conflict in the Middle East. With reports of new American troops being sent to the region, Congress and the American people deserve answers regarding this significant escalation and a clear strategy going forward.
And whether we are dealing with Iran or other foreign policy matters, I’m committed to keeping America safe and secure.
Ok - that’s it for now, folks.
Again, Happy New Year from the Kilmer family - here’s hoping 2020 is filled with health and happiness! As always, I’m honored to represent you.