March 18, 2024

Securing Funding for Projects in Our Region

Hello Folks –

I hope everyone enjoyed the hues of green and the lively spirit that St. Patrick’s Day brings each year. I made corned beef and cabbage this weekend (and spent some time trying to persuade my kids that this was not punishment). With the baseball season right the corner, our Mariners are getting back into the swing of things at spring training … Maybe our bats can catch a bit of that Irish luck once Opening Day comes around!

A lot happened in the other Washington since my last newsletter – so, let’s get on to the news!

Funding for Projects in Our Region

Four years ago, the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress led the way in reinstating the ability of Members of Congress to secure funding for projects and programs in their districts. This approach – known as Community Project Funding – was a recognition that Congress holds the power of the purse and that the representatives of the people are closest to the needs of their districts.

When these funding opportunities were opened up, my office went about the process of identifying which projects would receive funding through a transparent, meritocratic process. We put together a community panel of economic development folks from each county in our district, a Tribal representative, and the head of the Minority Business Development Agency to consider each proposal before making a final set of recommendations. They spent weeks working, evaluating each project on its maturity, depth of community support, and the needs of the surrounding community.

For this fiscal year, I submitted 15 Community Project Funding requests to the Appropriations Committee after our office received more than 70 solid proposals. During the process, I’ve often focused on projects that create economic opportunity or address threats in our communities … think public safety, poor infrastructure, or a lack of affordable housing.


Last weekend, President Biden signed legislation to approve over $17.5 million for community projects in ClallamGrays HarborJeffersonKitsapMason, and Pierce counties. That includes significant infrastructure upgrades like the Port Townsend Boat Haven Main Breakwater Replacement and vital community resources like the Cora Whitley Family Center in Tacoma to expand access to childcare. We’re also focusing on public safety and emergency preparedness with funding for the City of Elma Community Policing and Emergency Operations Center and supporting essential workers and families through housing initiatives on the Makah Reservation and in Sequim. Environmental sustainability is a key aspect, too, with investments in stormwater infrastructure in Tacoma and a water supply project in Hoquiam.


These grants demonstrate a broad commitment to enhancing the quality of life, safety, and environmental health of our communities. Plus, when the federal government contributes to these investments, it means that the costs aren’t solely borne by taxpayers in our region. That’s a big win.

I’ll write more about some of the specific wins in future newsletters – and I’ll fight for more Community Project Funding to support local priorities in the next budget!

Bridging Divides in Our Communities

In an era where division and discord seem to permeate every aspect of our society, the need for unity and understanding has never been more pressing. It’s with this in mind that I introduced the Building Civic Bridges Act (BCBA), a bipartisan effort aimed at bridging the deep divides that have affected our communities and our nation.

The BCBA seeks to address a glaring issue highlighted by a January 2022 NBC News poll, which found that a staggering 70% of Americans believe our country’s deep divisions are a major obstacle to tackling problems – a significant leap from 45% in 2010. Moreover, the poll revealed that 76% of Americans, regardless of political affiliation, view democracy and the principle of majority rule in the U.S. as being under threat.


My legislation proposes the creation of a non-partisan pilot program under a new Office of Civic Bridgebuilding within AmeriCorps. This initiative is designed to knit together the fabric of our communities by fostering connections across diverse groups and supporting civic organizations and initiatives dedicated to civic engagement and bridgebuilding.

Through my experiences in our community, I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of bridgebuilding. After a series of attacks on faith-based institutions, an interfaith group emerged, striving to foster understanding and cohesion. Similarly, in response to conflict at a local YMCA, community leaders came together to sponsor events aimed at bridging divides. These examples underscore the potential for positive change when we come together to address division.

However, when these groups sought federal support for their efforts, they found little was available. The BCBA aims to change that by providing federal grants to support a wide array of organizations and initiatives working to mend the fissures in our societal fabric through dialogue, conflict resolution, and community reconciliation. By fostering dialogue and understanding, we can begin to bridge the divides that threaten the very foundation of our democracy.

The Building Civic Bridges Act can be a valuable step in that journey, and I’m honored to lead this bipartisan effort in the House.

State of the Union & My Proposal to Amend the Constitution

In the wake of President Biden’s State of the Union Address, which laid out a clear vision for our nation’s future, it’s a good time to reflect on the resilience of our democratic institutions. While President Biden highlighted significant progress, such as a new law to lower prescription drug prices and investments made possible through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the occasion also reminded us of the importance of a continuity plan for our government.


Earlier that day, I led a bipartisan group of lawmakers to propose a constitutional amendment to address a critical vulnerability in our continuity of government plan. The Continuity Amendment we introduced is designed to ensure that, in times of crisis, Congress can maintain its functionality and continue serving the American people without interruption.

This proposal is particularly relevant when considering events like the State of the Union, when many federal government officials gather in a single location. It’s a stark reminder of the need for a well-defined plan to fill House vacancies swiftly in the event of an unforeseen tragedy.


In short, the amendment we proposed requires each representative to designate temporary successors, who would temporarily fill a vacancy until a special election can be held to replace the deceased member of the House. This not only guarantees the uninterrupted functioning of our government but also aims to reduce the incentive for political violence.

As we move forward, building on the progress highlighted by President Biden in his speech, it’s crucial that we also bolster the foundations that keep our democracy strong and resilient. The Continuity Amendment – which is bipartisan – can help us take a significant step toward protecting our most sacred democratic institution, even in times of unforeseen crises.

Working for You

Supporting First Responders

Earlier this month, I caught up with friends from the International Association of Fire Fighters. It’s an honor to support our firefighters by advocating for PFAS exposure compensation, pay equity for federal firefighters, and more. I’m always proud to stand up for our region’s first responders!

Improving Public Safety

Speaking of first responders…. Last Thursday, I joined forces with local leaders at my Emergency Management Roundtable in Clallam County. I’m grateful for the insights on enhancing our community’s emergency readiness, including through the forthcoming Joint Emergency Operations Center to ensure our region is prepared for any challenge!

Investing in Rural Infrastructure

It’s always a pleasure to meet with leaders from the Port of Grays Harbor. We discussed exciting updates on their expansion and redevelopment projects, including the Terminal 4 project, which will boost cargo capacity and create jobs across Grays Harbor County!

OK – that’s it for now, folks. As always, I’m honored to represent you.

Derek Kilmer
Derek Kilmer