COLUMN: Progress Report for 2017
2017 is now behind us; we are mid-way through the 115th Congress, and it is timely to take stock and focus on the progress made for Central Washington and the country during the past year.
As your representative in Congress, two of the most important responsibilities on behalf of the 4th Congressional District are responding to constituents’ questions and assisting constituent when they deal with the federal government. In 2017, my office has responded to nearly 30,000 letters, calls and emails from constituents. Over the past year, my office has closed 633 constituent cases with federal agencies. That total includes 99 Social Security and Medicare cases and 229 cases on behalf of veterans. If you ever have a question or concern regarding a federal agency, I encourage you to please contact my offices in Central Washington.
2017 has seen progress on many issues for Central Washington.
In February, Columbia Basin tribes were finally able to bury the Kennewick Man, also known as the Ancient One, after I worked on bipartisan legislation in Congress that required his remains to be returned to the tribes.
One of the most important federal commitments in our region, and one of my top priorities, is to support the cleanup of the Hanford site in a safe and timely way. At the beginning of 2017, I invited then-incoming U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to visit the Hanford Site and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. His visit in August highlighted the critical cleanup work at Hanford and the scientific contributions of our very own National Lab.
In 2017, President Trump has begun to reverse the regulatory agenda of President Obama. I supported using the Congressional Review Act to rein in federal overreach and overturn several major regulations issued by President Obama that would have negative impacts on our economy. One of the most important reversals in 2017 was President Trump’s decision to revisit the Waters of the United States or WOTUS rule. I fought this Obama-era rule because it would impose federal control over ‘waterways’ that were never intended by the law, with negative consequences for agriculture. Repealing WOTUS was the right thing to do.
I have supported major legislation that has been signed into law this year by President Trump. Tax reform that will reduce the burden of taxation and allow you to keep more of your own paycheck. Repealing the individual mandate will lift a burden that should never have been placed on working families in Central Washington or anywhere else.
Our bicameral system requires both the House and Senate to approve legislation before it heads to the President, which is why some important priorities that have passed the House of Representatives still await action by the Senate. In November, I voted in support of legislation that passed the House of Representatives to reauthorize the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for five years. With the deadline for the program’s funding ticking, the Senate must now act.
Looking ahead to 2018, many important legislative issues remain to be addressed by Congress, including a bipartisan solution for beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program so that they can finally have certainty.
2017 has been a year of reining in federal overreach and again empowering Americans to take more control over their own lives and pocket books. I will continue to make the case for priorities here at home in 2018.