McMorris Rodgers Doubles Down on Efforts to Fix Backlog of Veterans’ Record Requests
(September 23, 2021) –...
Cathy McMorris Rodgers is Eastern Washington’s chief advocate in Congress and a rising star in American politics. Since first being elected to the House in 2004, she has earned the trust of her constituents and praise on Capitol Hill for her hard work, conservative principles, bipartisan outreach, and leadership to get results for Eastern Washington. As someone who grew up on an orchard and fruit stand in Kettle Falls, Washington, worked at her family’s small business, and later became a wife and working mom of three, Cathy has lived the American Dream, and she works every day to rebuild that Dream for our children and grandchildren.
Cathy served as Chair of the House Republican Conference from 2012 to 2018. Cathy was the 200th woman ever elected to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives and the first woman to give birth three times while in office.
Since being elected to Congress in 2004, Cathy has focused on moving legislation based on the priorities she hears in conversations with the people of Eastern Washington. Her mission is to restore trust and confidence in representative government and the rule of law, and lead as a trust-builder, ability-advocate, and unifying force to get results for hardworking men and women in Eastern Washington.
Veterans and Military Families
A longtime advocate for members of the military and their families, Cathy co-founded the bipartisan Military Family Caucus with Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-GA) to provide military spouses and children a voice in Congress. She is also the co-chair of the Mobility Air Forces Caucus that advocates for the critical roles that air refueling, airlift and aero medical evacuation play in our national security. Eastern Washington is home to more than 68,000 veterans and Fairchild Air Force Base, which is why Cathy continues to be a vocal advocate in Congress for our veterans and military service members.
In August 2016, Cathy co-hosted the annual Military Family Summit at Fairchild Air Force Base with Caucus Co-Founder Representative Sanford Bishop (D-GA) to discuss the most pressing issues facing military families today — pay and benefits, community integration and transition, and the health and well-being of their families and children.
As a strong advocate for veterans, Cathy leads the charge in Congress to ensure our veterans have access to the best healthcare available. She believes the VA has lost sight of its mission to put veterans first. She has consistently voted to increase the budget of the VA, but she believes the VA has cultural and structural problems, not a funding problem, which is why she continually champions solutions to hold the VA accountable and improve how it works. Her Faster Care for Veterans Act, requires the VA to adopt technology that allows veterans to schedule appointments online. It was signed into law by President Obama in December 2016.
In 2017, Cathy introduced the Modernization of Medical Records Access for Veterans Act of 2017 to direct the VA Secretary to carry out a pilot program establishing a secure, patient-centered, portable medical records system to allow veterans access to their own comprehensive medical records. Also in 2017, she introduced the Ethical Patient Care for Veterans Act to require Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical professionals to report directly to state licensing boards if they witness unacceptable or unethical behavior from other medical professionals at the VA.
Cathy also led in returning the Spokane VA to 24-hour urgent care and partnering with the new medical school at Washington State University to work towards a teaching hospital designation for the Spokane VA, which will bring more residency slots and train doctors in our community.
As a native of one of the most agriculture-intensive districts in the country, Cathy has long been a champion for Eastern Washington’s farmers. Cathy continues to protect crop insurance from deep cuts, open new trade markets for farmers through trade and market access programs, and support robust funding for agriculture research like the transformative work at Washington State University. Cathy has also been a driving force in Congress to help provide wheat growers relief from low falling numbers, including developing a long-term plan to more accurately measure wheat quality, fixing the grain glitch, and encouraging smart trade policies that put farmers first.
As co-chair of the Northwest Energy Caucus and the founder of the Hydropower Caucus, Cathy is a long-time champion of dams and hydropower as a source of renewable, clean, reliable, affordable energy. In 2017, Cathy passed her Hydropower Policy Modernization Act through the House to modernize and streamline the hydropower relicensing process and encourage the development and investment in clean, renewable hydroelectric energy. In the Spring of 2018, Cathy also saw her legislation to protect the Columbia and Snake River dams pass the House, which stops the unnecessary and costly court-ordered spill and allows local experts and scientists to move forward with fish recovery efforts.
The environment and the outdoors are a way of life in the Pacific Northwest, and Cathy is committed to environmental stewardship. That’s why in the Spring of 2018, she helped usher permanent forest management reforms into law that will keep our forests healthy and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. She also led in fixing “fire borrowing” at the U.S. Forest Service to correct budgetary issues at the Forest Service and ensure they have the resources to fight fires when they do happen.
In the Spring of 2018, Cathy ushered her bill into law to extend the Secure Rural Schools program which provides funding for rural, timber-dependent counties to fund public and municipal needs like infrastructure, public schools, law enforcement and more.
Cathy was instrumental in the development of the A to Z Project on the Colville National Forest and continues to advocate for local collaboration and public-private partnerships to get our forests working again and actively manage our vast natural resources. Cathy believes the A to Z Project should be a national model. She is also a strong supporter of carbon-neutral biomass as a clean, renewable energy resource.
In 2010, Cathy was appointed to the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee – where almost half of all legislation pertaining to the economy must pass. She plays an active role in advancing affordable, patient-centered health care reforms. As co-chair of the Rural Health Caucus, she advocates for better access to affordable and quality health care services in our rural communities, and in early 2018, her legislation to extend and expand the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program was signed into law, which will help meet the doctor shortage in rural and underserved areas.
In 2015, Cathy’s Steve Gleason Act was signed into law to provide a temporary fix to a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) policy that limited access to speech-generating devices for people with ALS, like Spokane-native Steve Gleason, and other degenerative diseases. In 2018, Cathy’s Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act was signed into law to make that fix permanent.
She is a longtime supporter of increased resources at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and has repeatedly voted for increases in funding to help combat the opioid epidemic in Eastern Washington and across the country.
As a co-sponsor, vocal advocate and co-author of the 21st Century Cures Act, Cathy played a key role in getting the bill passed in the House and signed into law. The legislation funds the discovery, development, and delivery of life-saving cures, and includes provisions that specifically benefit the people of Eastern Washington, such as funding for better rural health programs and support for Washington State University’s research on bacteria resistance to antibiotics. The bill was signed into law by President Obama in December 2016.
Cathy is a vocal, devoted champion for the disability community. In 2014, she played an instrumental role in securing final passage of the ABLE Act, which was described as the most comprehensive piece of disability legislation since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act. This landmark legislation created tax-free savings accounts to empower individuals with disabilities to save and invest in their futures. To build on this success, she introduced and helped pass her ABLE to Work Act and ABLE Financial Planning Act, getting these pieces signed into law in December of 2017. These bills expand opportunities for people with disabilities by allowing them to explore work and save their earnings into their ABLE account without jeopardizing necessary benefits. Cathy believes that a job is so much more than a paycheck, it’s what gives each person dignity and purpose — the opportunity for a better life. She is dedicated to helping those with disabilities live their lives to the fullest.
Cathy believes that restoring trust and confidence in representative government starts with ensuring taxpayer dollars are used efficiently and effectively. In Spring of 2017, she introduced the Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act (USA Act), which requires greater scrutiny of federal spending by identifying government agencies and programs that are not authorized to receive funding and puts them on a path to sunset in three years unless Congress renews them. As McMorris Rodgers wrote in The Washington Post, “Every day, we hear Americans’ frustration about Washington’s seemingly unstoppable growth. For their sake, it’s time to force Congress to justify every taxpayer dollar it spends.” She has long supported a Balanced Budget Amendment and continues to work with her colleagues in Congress to bring reforms for the budget process so Congress can stop lurching from one funding crisis to the next.
Cathy is the co-chair of eight Congressional caucuses: Military Family, Down Syndrome, Lumber, Neuroscience, Hydropower, Northwest Energy, Rural Health Caucus, and the Mobility Air Forces Caucus.
In January 2014, McMorris Rodgers delivered the Republican address following the State of the Union, in which she articulated a hopeful, bold Republican vision that will make life better for the American people.
In 2006, Cathy married Brian Rodgers, a Spokane native and retired 26-year Navy Commander. In 2007, she gave birth to Cole Rodgers. Cole was born with Trisomy 21 and inspired Cathy to become a leader in the disabilities community. She has since welcomed two daughters into the world – Grace Blossom (December 2010) and Brynn Catherine (November 2013). She is the only Member of Congress in history to give birth three times while in office.
Last year, Cathy authored ten bills that passed the House, seven of which were signed into law.
She is leading to advance smart trade policies that put Eastern Washington farmers first.
Cathy helped secure permanent forest management reforms and fix “fire borrowing” to keep forests health and fight fires when they do happen.
She is leading to protect the Columbia and Snake River dams from those wishing to tear our dams out.
Cathy helped the most sweeping reform of the tax code in more than 30 years become law.
Her ABLE to Work Act and ABLE Financial Planning Act were signed into law to build upon the ABLE Act and allow people with disabilities to explore work.
Cathy brought the House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman to Spokane to meet with veterans and push for improvements at the Spokane and Walla Walla VA facilities.
Cathy hosted the annual Congressional Military Family Summit at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane.
She helped write and pass the 21st Century Cures Act to invest in medical research to find cures and fix our broken mental health system.
Cathy led the Unauthorized Spending Accountability Act to put an end to reckless and unauthorized government spending.
Cathy’s Steve Gleason Act was signed into law to provide access through Medicare to speech-generating devices for people with ALS and other degenerative diseases.
She hosted a series of meetings and roundtables to work on forest management reforms to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires impacting the region.
Cathy delivers the Republican address following the State of the Union
“A to Z” Mill Creek Pilot Project announced — a public private partnership to manage 50,000 acres in the Colville National Forest to help improve forest health and create jobs
Cathy authors 2 bills that become law:
Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act
National Pediatric Research Network Act of 2013
Cathy is appointed to the powerful Energy and Commerce Committee
Cathy is elected Vice Chair of the House Republican Conference
Cathy marries Brian Rodgers
(They have 3 children together. She is the only Member of Congress in history to give birth three times while in office.)
Cathy keeps Fairchild Air Force Base off the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list.
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