08.05.19

Walking and Chewing Gum

Hello Folks - 

I write to you once again today following two more senseless, tragic, and heartbreaking mass shootings. Our nation saw these two terrible acts of violence just thirteen hours apart. This shouldn’t be accepted as normal, but these tragedies have startlingly become somehow commonplace. 

We should not become numb to this or accept this. The lives lost were fathers and mothers, sons and daughters. Enough is enough.

My prayers go out to the families and friends of the victims and the entire El Paso and Dayton communities. In addition, I’m praying - and working - for action.  

Earlier this year, the House passed two common-sense, bipartisan bills to help prevent senseless violence like this.  It’s time for the Senate to take action.

I’ve heard from a number of you already about this issue, and I expect that I’ll continue to hear more from you when I see you across the region this summer during the August District Work Period. 

It’s important to me that I hear directly from the people I represent. That’s why in order to stay accountable and accessible every year, I hold a series of town halls across the district to listen to your ideas and concerns. I hope you’ll be able to join over the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more details.

Westport - Monday, August 26, 2019 at 5:30pm

Westport Maritime Museum, 2201 Westhaven Dr, Westport, WA 98595

Kingston - Thursday, August 29, 2019 at 6:00pm

Village Green Community Center, 26159 Dulay Rd NE, Kingston, WA 98346

Gig Harbor - Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at 5:30pm

Peninsula High School Auditorium, 14105 Purdy Dr. NW, Gig Harbor, WA 98332

Forks - Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 5:30pm

Rainforest Arts Center, 35 N Forks Ave, Forks, WA 98331

Supporting an Impeachment Inquiry

Since the last newsletter, I made an important announcement: I support the House of Representatives beginning an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. 

Now let’s be clear - I don’t take this decision lightly. 

I came to Congress with two goals in mind: to see the economy work better for people in our region and to see government work better for you too. I don’t want to see a government that is dysfunctional, corrupt, and unable to make progress on delivering health care, jobs, and education for you. That’s why I chose to seek this job. It’s why I get on a plane each week and spend time away from my wife and daughters.   

In the past few years, it has often been disheartening to see our government become more polarized and less accountable to the American people. Perhaps nowhere has that been more evident than in the actions of President Trump.

While I’ve written in past newsletters about my policy disagreements with this Administration and my concerns about some of the president’s divisive rhetoric, those concerns don’t rise to the level of impeachment.   

However, the evidence laid out in the Mueller Report - and the testimony of Director Mueller at the end of July that amplified it - commands a higher level of concern. I have read the Mueller Report - when it was first released and again in the days leading up to his testimony. The clear evidence of corruption has already led to multiple indictments and guilty pleas by the president’s national security advisor, personal attorney, and the chairman of his campaign. 

The president’s open acceptance of support from Russians was undeniably disruptive to the integrity of our democracy. We are now learning that the Russians penetrated election systems in all 50 states. This ongoing threat is real, and it is the duty of both parties to protect our democracy from a similar assault in 2020. 

But perhaps most troubling is the evidence - on multiple occasions - of obstruction of justice. The details of the president’s actions - from his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey, to his persistent efforts to limit the scope of the Mueller Investigation, to his actions seeking to influence testimony of others (many who ended up being indicted themselves) - cannot be ignored. In fact, more than 1,000 former federal prosecutors - Democrats and Republicans - have said that the evidence would be sufficient to prosecute the president on obstruction charges. 

If you don’t want to read the full report, this article provides a decent summary of the most concerning incidents.

Opening an impeachment inquiry is disruptive and it may further polarize a country that is already far too divided. These factors have consistently given me pause. Beyond that, I have great respect for the leaders in the House and the committee chairs who have suggested a step-by-step approach. I respect their judgment and their leadership, and I agree that the committees of jurisdiction should continue the important oversight work that they have begun and pursue the facts. I have grappled with the fact that the Senate may dismiss even the strongest evidence. Indeed, the Senate may exonerate the president. 

In my view, the incidents of obstruction and of foreign interference cited in the Mueller Report should not be dismissed based on politics, party biases, or the fear of some predicted outcome. Moreover, I believe Congress can continue working to deliver on health care, education and jobs while also following the evidence and upholding its obligations under the Constitution. 

YOU, the people I represent, deserve no less.  

At the end of the day, I come back to the reason I came to Congress in the first place. I want to see more folks have good jobs, quality health care, and top-notch educational opportunities and I’m committed to continuing to work every day toward those ends. 

But I also came to Congress because I want to see government work better for you. I don’t want a government that is corrupt. I don’t want the lesson to my daughters - or to any Americans - to be that actions like these are acceptable. 

Obstructing justice and accepting assistance from foreign governments simply cannot be a standard that we accept. 

The rule of law needs to mean something. The integrity of our democracy needs to mean something. With that clear focus, I support the House of Representatives beginning an impeachment inquiry.  

200 Days of Progress for the American People

You’ve heard me say that Congress can and should walk and chew gum at the same time. It can fulfill its oversight responsibilities under the constitution, while also making progress on important priorities - like cleaning up Washington, lowering health care and prescription drug prices, raising wages, combating climate change, and protecting the environment. 

Before leaving DC last month, Congress marked the 200th Day of a session that’s focused on advancing an agenda to make life better for folks. It would take the better part of your entire evening to read about the bills I’m proud of supporting (I’ve introduced 25 myself!) – but I wanted to highlight a few legislative efforts that have passed the House in the first 200 days! 

Lowering Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs

The Strengthening Health Care and Lowering Prescription Drug Costs Act (H.R. 987): a bill to make health care more affordable, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and lower prescription drug costs.

Increasing Paychecks by Rebuilding America

The Paycheck Fairness Act (H.R. 7): a bill to help eliminate the wage gap between women and men by strengthening the 1963 Equal Pay Act to ensure women receive equal pay for equal work. 

The Raise the Wage Act (H.R. 582): to gradually increase the federal minimum wage to $15 over six years and ensure people working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks a year, aren’t earning a salary that puts them below the poverty line.

Fighting for Equality

The Equality Act (H.R. 5): a bill to ensure our LGBTQ friends and neighbors are guaranteed the same basic civil rights and opportunities as anyone else - whether they’re dealing with employment, education, credit, jury service, federal funding, housing, or starting a family.

Cleaning Up Corruption in Washington

The For the People Act (H.R. 1): a sweeping package of reform bills to strengthen the voice of the American people in their democracy by making it easier to vote, ending the dominance of big money in the political process, and ensuring public officials work for the public interest. The package includes two bipartisan bills I authored to increase transparency in elections (the Honest Ads Act) and crack down on politicians that cheat (the Restoring Integrity in America’s Election Act).

Combating Climate Change and Conserving Our Natural Landscapes

The Climate Action Now Act (H.R. 9): a bill to fight climate change by reaffirming America’s commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement and directing the Administration to develop, and make public, a comprehensive plan to meet the significant emission reductions that we as nation, and nearly every other nation, committed to back in 2015.

The John Dingell Jr. Conservation, Management and Recreation Act (S. 47): a bipartisan public lands package that permanently reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund and - among other things - creates Washington’s first two National Heritage Areas (including a new maritime heritage area on Western Washington’s shoreline through a bill I authored to help promote maritime-related tourism, economic development and maritime history!). 

Keeping Our Communities Safe

The Bipartisan Background Checks Act (H.R. 8): a bill that follows the lead of states like Washington and expands background checks to ensure that convicted felons or someone with a serious mental illness can’t get a weapon.

OK, that’s a lot! And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There were also bills I wrote about in past newsletters to protect Dreamers, to address issues at the southern border, to enhance retirement security, as well as a great Kilmer bill to combat ocean acidification. These bills have all passed the House and some have already become law.  

I’m serious - I could write all day about the work I’m proud to be doing - but there’s still so much more to do! Stay tuned for more progress. 

Modernizing Congress

As many of you know, in January I was appointed to serve as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (aka the “Fix Congress” Committee). The Committee is charged with finding ways to make Congress work better for the American people. Earlier this year, the Committee unanimously passed five recommendations to increase transparency and open-up Congress to the people.

Over the last few months, the Select Committee has heard from current and former Members of Congress, industry leaders in staffing, recruitment and diversity, and those familiar with the House’s current technology policy, capabilities and procedures to help figure out how to make Congress more able to meet the needs of the American people.

Together, the Committee developed and passed an additional 24 recommendations in July that were crafted with the intention of boosting the quality of engagement with the American people, increasing staff retention on Capitol Hill, ensuring Americans with disabilities have access to all procedures and functions of the House, and overhauling the current onboarding and education process for new and current Members of Congress. These recommendations make important strides to strengthening the capacity of the Legislative Branch so Congress can better serve all Americans. And we’re looking forward to taking more action in September!

To keep up with the work the Select Committee is doing, head to ModernizeCongress.House.gov or follow the Committee on twitter at @ModernizeCmte. 

The Select Committee is also soliciting ideas from all of YOU on what the Committee can do to make Congress more effective, efficient, transparent, and promote accountability. If you’re interested in weighing in – don’t hesitate to reach out at ModernizeCongress@mail.house.gov

Working for You

Continuing the Fight Against HIV/AIDS

Thank you to Erick and the Pierce County AIDS Foundation for the important work you do, the great discussion about ensuring the federal commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic remains strong and unwavering, and for brightening my day with some awesome artwork. 

Pierce Co AIDS Foundation_7.8.19

Celebrating Allyn Days

Tess and I had an amazing time at the Allyn Days Geoduck Festival! I got to cheer on an oyster shucking contest, eat some geoduck sliders and ceviche, and chat with a lot of terrific people. Thanks to everyone for coming out!

Allyn Days 2019

OK, that’s it for now, folks. I’m looking forward to seeing you on the road over the next few weeks. As always, I’m honored to represent you.

-Derek