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COLUMN: A Voice for the West

November 9, 2020
Weekly Column and Op-Ed

In Central Washington, we understand all-too-well the frustrations that come from feeling like rural communities are being ignored. Large cities and urban areas seem to suck all the air out of the room, leaving those of us in rural America feeling we do not have a voice.

This is especially true in our nation’s capital and why I take my responsibility as the voice for Central Washington very seriously. As one of 435 Members in the House of Representatives, I work every day to educate my peers about the priorities and issues facing our district.

From water supply and public land-use to agriculture and energy development, our communities face unique challenges – but we aren’t in it alone.

For the past few years, I have served as a Vice Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus, a bipartisan coalition that aims to advance priorities of rural America. The Western Caucus provides an opportunity for Members not just in the West, but from across the country – from Alaska and Arizona to South Carolina and Louisiana – to advocate for our constituents through a platform that unites, elevates, and strengthens our voices.

As a Caucus, we advocate for legislation and policies that empower rural communities. We have worked to encourage responsible resource development and energy independence, increase access to public lands and promote multiple-use, protect our communities from wildfires, support our nation’s agriculture industry, and strengthen the water infrastructure that makes our way-of-life possible throughout the West.

Together, we have spearheaded efforts to modernize the Endangered Species Act, working alongside the Trump Administration to – finally – delist the gray wolf and allow for state and local entities to manage gray wolf populations.

We have strongly advocated for reforms to our nation’s regulatory processes in order to decrease burdens on rural communities, encourage critical infrastructure development, and responsibly manage, conserve, and utilize our natural resources. We saw a lot of these reforms come to fruition in President Trump’s modernization of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and his repeal of the Obama-era Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule.

We have made a lot of progress, but there is much more to accomplish.

As a Vice Chairman of the Caucus, I have had the chance to travel across the United States to learn about the issues facing different regions of our country. Whether it be discussing wildfire prevention and forestry reforms in California, locally-led conservation efforts in Montana, carbon-capture technology in Texas, the maintenance backlog at our national parks in Arizona, or energy development in Alaska, these trips are educational opportunities that I have not taken for granted.

While our Members represent diverse populations, we have a common interest in standing up for rural America. That is why I am proud to launch my bid for Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus.

As a lifelong resident of Central Washington and a third-generation farmer, I have a unique understanding of the negative impacts federal decisions and one-size-fits-all regulations can have on our communities. I want to use this experience to expand the influence of the Caucus and protect the values of rural communities throughout the West and beyond.

As we look toward the 117th Congress, the Congressional Western Caucus will continue to serve as champions for those who feel they have been left behind by the federal government’s overreaching laws and burdensome regulatory red tape. As Chairman, I will continue to advocate for the priorities of Central Washington and rural communities across our great country, and I look forward to serving as a Voice for the West.