What I’m Thankful For – And Updates on Efforts to Fix Congress & Create Jobs
Hello Folks –
I hope you all had a terrific weekend celebrating Thanksgiving with your loved ones. My family and I spent a lot of time at home eating (I think I crushed the pumpkin pie: see below!), watching the Apple Cup (way to go, Huskies!!), playing a few board games, and counting our blessings.
I’m thankful for many things. For my family and friends. For the roof over my head. But that’s not all.
In addition, I’m thankful for the opportunity to represent you. As most of you know, I was born and raised here in the district I’m now honored to represent. It’s my home. I wake up every day thankful for the opportunity to represent you. That’s why my team and I have been working harder than ever to be there for you, to get back to you, and to help you solve problems with federal agencies. Get in touch with my team and me if you need a hand!
I’m thankful for the brave servicemembers who have sacrificed so much for our country – and I’m thankful for their families, too! I have the honor of representing a region that is home to a large number of veterans, active-duty service members, and their families. Over the years that I’ve served as your representative, I have witnessed, and have been humbled by, the extraordinary sacrifice that families have made when a loved one makes the decision to serve in the armed forces. Serving on the House Committee on Appropriations, I’m honored to have the opportunity to play a meaningful role in supporting military families and veterans. We can’t – and shouldn’t ever – take them for granted.
I’m thankful for the federal workforce. The folks I’ve met at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Base Kitsap, Olympic National Park, and elsewhere have consistently impressed me. That’s why I’ll be working hard over the next few weeks to see Congress pass a funding bill and prevent a government shutdown. There needs to be an agreement to fund the government long-term and give our federal agencies and workers certainty. Federal workers should not have to worry about another government shutdown.
I’m thankful for the local employers and small businesses who continue to work to provide good jobs and good wages, and who have been going above-and-beyond as we work to recover from this unprecedented pandemic. I’m working in Congress to ensure our local small businesses have the support they need to continue to create economic opportunity for our region.
And finally, I’m thankful for people who want to strengthen our democracy. As Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress over the past four years, I’ve been proud to lead the bipartisan effort to make Congress more efficient, effective, and transparent. Earlier this month, we passed our 200th recommendation with bipartisan support to make government work better for folks – and held our final hearing! Let’s dig into the details.
Making Government Work Better
One of the main reasons I ran for this job was to get government working better for folks. That’s because I believe that the American people deserve a Congress that works. They deserve a Congress that is efficient, transparent, and responsive. And they deserve a Congress that is focused on solving problems and that has the capabilities to solve them.
As you’ve likely read in past newsletters, that has been the focus for the work of a select committee in Congress I was appointed to lead: the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress (aka the “Fix Congress Committee”). I’m proud to say that over the last four years, the Fix Congress Committee passed over 200 recommendations with bipartisan support – including our final seven earlier this month.
The recommendations passed by this Committee do all sorts of things to make Congress work better for the American people: they improve the way Congress engages with the people it represents; they streamline things like constituent services and improve feedback methods to help Members of Congress be more responsive, accessible, and accountable to folks at home; they bolster staff capacity to ensure Congress can do its job and enact legislation that moves our country forward; they help bring congressional technology into the 21st century to improve efficiency; they facilitate bipartisan collaboration, and more. All of these go towards making government work better – and they all had the backing of a bipartisan majority of the Fix Congress Committee.
If there is one thing I have learned during my time as Chair of this Committee, it’s that there is no silver bullet to “fix” Congress. I think it's more like silver buckshot—there's a whole bunch of stuff that we've got to do to modernize the institution to get it more focused on the needs of the American people. That’s why even though the Fix Congress Committee is coming to a close in its current iteration, I’m going to keep working on these issues!
This Committee has shown that Republicans and Democrats can work together to find solutions to the problems everyday Americans are facing in order to strengthen our nation. Americans don’t expect Members of Congress to agree on everything, nor do they expect members of Congress to all be best friends. But they do expect us to work together and show respect for one another as we work to represent our constituents and serve the American people. I am proud of the work that our committee did. And I am hopeful that, in the long-term, it will improve how Congress functions.
Celebrating Year One of a Historic Investment in Infrastructure – AND JOBS!
This past month, America celebrated one year since President Biden signed into law the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (aka the bipartisan infrastructure law) - the largest long-term investment in America’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century. This new law, which passed both the House and the Senate with bipartisan support, will deliver substantial new federal funding for infrastructure in communities right here in Washington and across the country.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we knew that America’s transportation systems and infrastructure were already struggling. From failing roads and bridges, to aging sewer and water infrastructure — it’s no wonder the American Society of Civil Engineers has graded America’s infrastructure as a C-.
The bipartisan infrastructure is about putting people to work now – and laying the foundation for economic growth over the long haul by investing in roads, bridges, transit, water systems, ports, and broadband.
The law recognizes that we can’t compete in a 21st Century economy with 19th and 20th Century infrastructure. There are folks in our region who are tired of sitting in traffic. There are people who don’t have the internet access they need to have a telehealth appointment or take an online class. There are families that don’t have access to clean water. This law is about fixing those problems.
And already – it’s having a big impact on our state! To date, $3.7 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has been announced for Washington - with over 175 specific projects identified for funding. This funding includes a big investment in transportation in Washington - to rebuild and enhance our roads, bridges, public transit, ports, and airports. It has helped more than 231,000 households across the state receive more affordable, reliable internet (you can check your eligibility, sign up, and find fully covered internet plans at GetInternet.gov). It is helping our state provide clean and safe water. And, it’s investing in recovering and restoring Puget Sound – which is critical to the environmental and economic future of our region.
This is a big deal – and in the coming months, we’re going to see continued investment in our state’s infrastructure. I’ll keep you updated!
Helping Folks Get Covered
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an important reminder about ensuring every American has access to quality, affordable health care. The good news is that right now, open enrollment for health and dental coverage is underway in our state! Through December 15, folks can head on over to WAHealthPlanfinder.org to check-out the 2023 health plans that are available to anyone who wants to get covered on the exchange, including free and low-cost coverage.
Working for You
Ensuring Access to Affordable Housing
The team at Tacoma Housing does incredible work to provide high-quality, safe, and sustainable housing and supportive services to folks in the South Sound. It was great to connect with the team in DC recently to talk about how we can work together to lower housing costs and increase access to affordable housing in our region!
Meeting Local Students
Every time I visit with students in our region, I'm reminded how bright the future is! I appreciated the opportunity to participate in an "Ask Me Anything" session with Leadership Students at Henderson Bay High School. Thanks for the terrific questions and conversation!
Feeding Local Families
It was terrific to join volunteers and community partners with the Gig Harbor Basket Brigade who worked to assemble and deliver 650+ Thanksgiving meal baskets for local families in need!! Kudos to David Cathers and all who played a part in this awesome tradition.
OK – that’s it for now, folks. As always, I’m honored to represent you.