November 28, 2023

So … What’s Happening with Government Funding?

Hello Folks –

I hope this message finds you in good spirits and still stuffed after the Thanksgiving weekend. As we step away from the Thanksgiving table, filled not just with delicious food but also with gratitude, it’s the perfect time to catch up. I trust you've had your fill of turkey, stuffing, and perhaps a slice (or two) of pumpkin pie.

Before we get into the news, I wanted to say thank you to everyone who’s reached out to me and my team since I announced that I won’t seek another term representing our region in Congress. You should know that Team Kilmer will have the pedal to the metal for the next 13 months. We’ve got plenty of work to do … and plenty more newsletters to write!

So, grab a cup of your favorite post-Thanksgiving beverage, and let’s dive into the latest.

So … What’s Happening with Government Funding?

For months, folks who subscribe to this newsletter have heard time and time again what I think of a potential government shutdown. Shutting down the federal government just before the holidays would have been stupid, incredibly damaging, and entirely avoidable. The good news is that Congress officially passed a budget through the end of 2023. The bad news is Congress may find itself back in the same situation come early 2024. Let me explain.

The week before Thanksgiving, members of both parties came together to pass a bipartisan continuing resolution to keep the federal government open until January 19. However, funding for only some of the government will extend beyond January 19 to February 2, creating a second deadline and the potential of a partial government shutdown come January. You can read more about Speaker Mike Johnson’s “laddered” approach to federal spending here.

While the Republican speaker of the House’s plan wasn’t perfect, it received more Democratic support than Republican support, bringing together commonsense members of both parties to support budget legislation that accomplished three important things.


First, the bill avoided the draconian spending cuts that we’d seen in the House Appropriations Committee. This is in line with the bipartisan spending levels that were passed at the end of 2023. Second, unlike what we saw through the Appropriations process, the bill avoided becoming a Christmas tree of hard-right, conservative policy changes. And finally, simply passing this bill means we don’t shut the government down.

he plan was first announced, many members of Congress, myself included, saw the threat of two future shutdown deadlines as potential peril in this approach. Having said that, I remain hopeful that Congress will pass annual spending bills on time, in addition to a supplemental spending bill that deals with Israel, Ukraine, border security, and Taiwan as President Biden has requested.

Lowering Energy Costs for Local Families

As we head into the winter months, many families struggle to pay their heating and energy bills. That’s particularly true in Tribal communities. Thankfully, help is on the way. Due to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, I am proud to announce that several Tribes in our region will soon receive important investments to lower energy costs and help families heat their homes in the winter. That’s a big deal for families trying to make ends meet.


Earlier this month, I announced that the federal government awarded a total of $403,447 in Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funding to eight Tribes in our region.

This initiative is all about helping those in need within our Tribal communities, especially when it comes to staying warm during the chilly winter months. It's more than just footing the bill for home heating; LIHEAP is also there to make homes more energy-efficient with weatherization upgrades.

And when extreme weather or disasters strike, causing energy crises, LIHEAP steps in. It’s not just about keeping the lights on and the heat running; it’s about preventing energy services from getting cut off in the first place and even pitching in for minor repairs around the house. All of this ensures that communities have the energy needed to stay safe and comfortable in their homes.

Leading the Charge for Clean Energy

Over the years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit the Pacific Northwest National Lab in Sequim where they are doing cutting-edge research. In addition to diving into marine-based clean energy opportunities, they are pioneering efforts to extract critical minerals from macroalgae. While this seems like science fiction, it represents a significant leap forward in our quest for sustainable energy solutions and a carbon-neutral future.

The Sequim Lab is a unique asset for both the Energy Department and for our region’s economy – that’s exactly why I’ll keep working to support its mission.

Earlier this month, I announced $1.35 million in new federal funding for the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL-Sequim) to evaluate the feasibility of extracting Rare Earth Elements (REEs) and Platinum Group Metals (PGMs) from macroalgae for use in energy applications.

REEs are crucial when it comes to making top-notch electric motors and generators that run like a dream. And let’s talk about PGMs – real game-changers in our fight against carbon emissions. Whether it’s churning out hydrogen from water electrolysis, powering up energy in fuel cells, or kicking chemical processes into high gear with catalysis, PGMs are at the heart of it all. They’re like the unsung heroes in our journey towards a greener, cleaner future. (If all of this makes you want to go back to school and study more science, join the club!).

At PNNL, the team’s mission is to figure out the best ways to get REEs and PGMs out of certain types of seaweed that are good at soaking these elements up. They’re also planning to use the leftover seaweed for cool stuff like biofuels and other materials industries can use. Plus, they’re going to recycle the chemicals used for extraction, so there’s hardly any waste left over. Thanks to new federal funding, folks from our region can lead the way in another exciting field.

Want to dive deeper? Check out the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy website where you’ll find all the details about what their team is up to.

Working for You

Helping Folks Have a Happy Thanksgiving

Want some inspiration this holiday season? Just look to the Gig Harbor Basket Brigade and the hundreds of volunteers who showed up to ensure families throughout our region could enjoy a great Thanksgiving. Kudos to David Cathers for his leadership on this (for 30 years!!!) and to everyone who showed up to help!


Standing up for Our Veterans

Ahead of Veterans Day, I met with Betsy Reed Schultz, a Gold Star Mother and founder of the Captain Joseph House Foundation. In Port Angeles, they’ve created a haven for families of our fallen heroes, offering respite and ongoing support for their healing journey.

Restoring a Local Treasure

Like many others who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, I hold cherished memories of time spent on Hurricane Ridge. I met with Olympic National Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs to discuss steps we’re taking toward replacing the iconic Day Lodge. Here’s to forward progress!

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

Derek Kilmer
Derek Kilmer