COLUMN: New Opportunities in a New Year
2015 has been an eventful year for our nation and for the 4th District of Washington, which I have been honored to be given the responsibility by Central Washingtonians to represent you in Congress. My commitment has been to work hard on solutions, not just add to the partisan noise in D.C. I am committed to working for you, listening to you and responding to questions and comments you have.
This year, my congressional office has provided resources at events held on behalf of farmers, students, and veterans. My staff made 24 mobile office stops throughout the 4th District to assist any constituent with no appointment required. We facilitated 157 tours in D.C. We assisted more than 400 constituents with cases when they needed help with a federal government agency, and I responded to more than 22,000 letters, calls, and emails from constituents. I also made 180,000 calls directly to families in the 4th District during telephone town halls so that I can hear what is important to you with no filters. Your input is critical to representing you in Congress.
I have joined my colleagues in Congress to introduce bipartisan legislation to address Central Washington's priorities, including a bill to prevent disastrous port slowdowns such as the one we faced in 2015. In Central Washington, two major issues we have faced this year were a historic wildfire season and drought. In response, I have worked to provide necessary resources to fight wildfires and change the way we manage forests and pay for firefighting. I also joined a bipartisan effort to reform the way the Federal Emergency Management Agency calculates the formula for allocating federal disaster aid after wildfires. This year's drought has shown the importance of continuing to push to cut red tape and provide support for water infrastructure projects that meet current and future needs of Central Washington. I am committed to making progress on that goal in 2016.
Keeping clean-up of the Hanford site moving forward in a timely manner has been a top priority of mine because slowing progress will cost taxpayers even more over the long run. I fought for resources to continue the job through the next fiscal season, and Congress provided that support.
Americans expect 2016 to be a year of results in Congress. We need to continue to work to reform the tax code, to reduce burdensome federal regulations, and to grow the economy that will mean increased wages for Washingtonians. The answer is not more top-down rules from D.C. or unilateral executive actions that go around the people's elected representatives in Congress.
Additional victories on issues important to Central Washington have been making the state and local sales tax federal deductions permanent to give certainty to families. Challenges remain in the second half of the 114th Congress, but I am committed to working to represent Central Washington effectively in 2016.