I had a great week at home last week in Eastern Washington where I met with people and heard their thoughts and concerns on a variety of issues. From Davenport to Pullman, from Clarkston to Spokane, it was great to be home talking about the issues and hearing directly from everyone. While I was back, I stopped by and talked with KXLY Newsradio 920 to give an update on what I’ve been working on and how we are getting results in the People’s House. In case you missed it, you can see the Facebook Live of the interview here:
This week I was back in the nation’s capital to continue working on your behalf. I wanted to take a minute to provide you with a few exciting updates.
Last month, I introduced the FORESTS Act of 2017. We’ve already seen the first wildfires of the season here in Washington, and as we move further into fire season, it’s important that we continue to look for ways to encourage and incentivize active forest management. For years, the U.S. Forest Service has warned us that our forests are in terrible shape, with dead trees, undergrowth, and disease just waiting to fuel the next major fire. That’s why it’s so important that we move forward with active forest management reforms so that we can reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire to our forests.
The FORESTS Act also takes advantage of the job creating potential of our forests. As much as they provide our region with natural beauty and character, our forests also serve as the economic engine to many of our rural communities, like those in Northeastern Washington. This legislation encourages local collaboration and projects, like the A to Z project on the Colville National Forest, to both get our forests working again and create healthier forests so they can continue to benefit our communities. You can find more information by visiting my website here.
Fairchild Air Force Base
Just this week, I spoke with the Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson who informed me that the Air Force would be relocating 12 KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling tankers from McConnell Air Force Base right here to Fairchild. This is excellent news for the Spokane area. Fairchild is a center of excellence and the largest employer in Eastern Washington. It plays a strategic role in supporting operations in the Asia-Pacific region. This new squadron sets up Fairchild Air Force Base as the preeminent tanker base in the country and cements its role in the Air Force’s long-term mission of global mobility and reach. These tankers bring additional capacity and capability to Fairchild, a vital location for the Air Force.
Over the past several years, I’ve hosted local Spokane leaders to the Pentagon to meet with Air Force officials and tell the story of Fairchild and what it means to our community. I’ve also led a number of letters with my Republican and Democrat colleagues in the state to advocate on behalf of Fairchild and push for its selection to receive new tankers. Fairchild says this move will bring 400 additional personnel to the base, along with their families and dependents. It will make the base the largest tanker base in the country with these tankers permanently assigned at Fairchild. It is also estimated that this move will bring more than $19.5 million per year in economic impact to Spokane.
I’ve also had multiple discussions with the city and state leaders, and the Air Force Secretary, to work to find a solution to the water contamination issue taking place at Fairchild and in Airway Heights. I’m committed to working with all involved parties so that we can find a quick fix, and also a long term solution and ensure this never happens again.
Financial CHOICE Act
Just last week, as I held a Coffee with Cathy event in Davenport, Washington, I heard again of the failures that Dodd-Frank reforms have had on local and community banks. Our community entrepreneurs no longer have access to capital, and community banks no longer have the ability to support their local community and invest in people. In fact, currently in the United States, one community bank is closing every single day. Instead of reining in the bad decisions of Wall Street, big banks have gotten bigger, and small banks have gotten fewer. Dodd-Frank did the opposite of support our small banks and institutionalized “too-big-to-fail.” At the end of the day, Dodd-Frank helped the big guys, at the expense of the small community banks like those here in Eastern Washington.
That’s why I’m excited that this week, the House passed the Financial CHOICE Act of 2017. This legislation will end Wall Street bailouts and provide regulatory relief to our small community banks. On Thursday, I joined Maria Bartiromo on Fox Business to talk about why this bill is so important for Eastern Washington and for our country. Watch my remarks here:
VA Accountability First
Earlier this year, the House passed the VA Accountability First and Appeals Modernization Act, and this week, the Senate moved forward on this legislation to bring much-needed reforms to the VA and ensure that the best and brightest are there to provide care and benefits to our nation’s heroes. This legislation will now head back to the House for final passage so we can send it to the President’s desk to become law. It will help ensure we have a more efficient, effective, and accountable Department of Veterans Affairs. Following the Senate action on this legislation on Tuesday, I released the following statement:
“We’ve all experienced bad customer service — it’s unpleasant. It makes you feel like a burden. For many of our veterans who contact the VA, this is their daily reality. Today, the Senate took an important step to improve our heroes’ experience by giving Secretary Shulkin the flexibility to fire employees who have allowed the VA to become disconnected from its sole mission: serving our veterans. I look forward to this bill coming back to the House, so we can work through the changes and get it to the President’s desk. We will continue reforming the VA until it becomes reconnected with its mission and veterans receive the care they need.”
We’ve been getting to work and getting results for the American people. This Congress has been the most productive in the last few decades. We’ve taken major steps to provide regulatory relief to Americans. We are beginning the process of moving forward on comprehensive tax reform to create jobs, raise wages, and grow our economy, so you can keep more of your hard-earned dollars.
We’ve also moved forward on the American Health Care Act to fix our broken health care system and provide quality and affordable health care for all. Just this week we are seeing Anthem pull out of the entire Ohio State Exchange, leaving countless people without access to even one health care provider on the individual market. It was also announced that two counties in our state will be left without any insurers next year on the individual market. The American Health Care Act (AHCA) gets more and more important every week.