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COLUMN: During August, Working on behalf of Central Washington

September 7, 2015
Weekly Column and Op-Ed
By Rep. Dan Newhouse

August is when Congress adjourns during the hottest part of the summer, and it was a busy time for me traveling Central Washington, meeting with constituents and participating in local business and community visits.

This month, many constituents shared their concerns about issues affecting our nation, including Planned Parenthood (I support investigating and defunding it in light of the horrific recent videos) and the Iran nuclear deal (I have grave doubts that this deal would improve our security and our allies’ security). These are just some of the concerns that I have listened to and considered this summer.

During a community luncheon in Kennewick, I had the chance to hear from more constituents in person. From visiting the Cargill animal nutrition facility in Granger, to the Lowes department store in Tri-Cities, to Claar Cellars Winery, I took the time to listen to employers and workers in the Mid-Columbia.

To hear from educators, I visited local school districts. I saw the good work that the community non-profit, Yakima Specialties, Inc., is doing to create employment opportunities that empower people who may face barriers. Addressing the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce and the Grandview Rotary gave me the chance to give updates on important work in Congress.

I convened a meeting of the Hanford working group that I have assembled to stay informed on critical issues affecting cleanup efforts at the site. I participated in a roundtable briefing on our region’s energy future and had the opportunity to speak at the dedication of a new Systems Engineering Laboratory at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). I hosted Rep. Derek Kilmer for bipartisan tours of areas of great importance for the entire state: PNNL, Washington State University Tri-Cities, and the Hanford site.

Finally, and most importantly, the catastrophic scope of record-breaking wildfires across the state and the immense response of the community have defined this summer for many Washingtonians. The hard work of responders and volunteers and the outpouring of support to help people who have been affected have been truly inspiring. I traveled to Okanogan County to view the damage and to speak with firefighters and local officials about ongoing firefighting efforts. Sadly, I attended the memorial service in Wenatchee for three U.S. Forest Service firefighters who tragically fell in the line of duty near Twisp. We are moved by their sacrifice. Until the last fire is extinguished, I will continue to work with federal officials to ensure those affected are getting the resources they need. 

As the Fourth District’s representative to Congress, I am focused squarely on what is important right here in Central Washington. I will take the insights I heard and what was on Washingtonians’ minds and hearts back to Congress.