As 2013 comes to a close, I would like to take the opportunity to wish you all a Happy New Year. When I reflect on the last 12 months, I recognize the will, the fight and the determination of the people in Eastern Washington. It’s been a busy year in Congress, addressing several big issues – from the federal budget, to health care and tax reform – and I will continue to work to make life easier for you and your neighbors. Hardworking Americans deserve better and I am committed to addressing our country’s challenges as opportunities to reach our goals.
Our state is the home to so many prosperous, innovative and successful businesses – and we need to make sure the economic climate is one in which they can continue to thrive. We need to keep big employers here in Eastern Washington, but remain focused on the growth of small businesses, which make up over 40% of employees in Washington. The way we do that is through pro-growth economic solutions that decrease government intervention and unnecessary regulations – so employers are encouraged to expand, not forced to cut back.
The North-Spokane Corridor is critical for economic stability and growth in Eastern Washington. By completing this project, we can improve the flow of traffic, enhance economic development by facilitating the transportation of goods, and provide better conditions to make our roads safer. I am working closely with Chairman Bill Shuster and other state and local transportation leaders to ensure that we complete what we started and finish the North Spokane Corridor.
Growing up on a family orchard, I understand the role that agriculture plays in our community. Family wheat farms are one of the largest economic drivers of jobs in Eastern Washington, generating nearly $1 billion in production value. As such, I am committed to passing a five-year farm bill that gives our farmers and ranchers the certainty they need.
VETERANS AND OUR MILITARY COMMUNITY
Fairchild Air Force Base is the region’s largest employer and I am focused on expanding the current mission of Fairchild as well as investing in opportunities to grow the current tanker mission. As Co-Chair of the Congressional Military Family Caucus, I understand that when a service member joins the military, it is not just a job—it’s a family commitment to our country. As such, I am committed to providing support for our military families as they face issues surrounding education, spousal employment, and financial readiness. I’m also committed to address to VA backlog issue that plagues our local veterans.
It is no secret that our immigration system is broken and in need of real solutions, but it would be irresponsible for me to consider an Obamacare-style overhaul that no one understands and that won’t fix the problem. Rather, Congress should focus on common-sense step-by-step reforms that secure our border, modernize our visa programs creating a workable agriculture guest worker program, and recognize the efforts of those who have come to this country through proper channels. It is my hope that together we can achieve an immigration system that works for those seeking greater opportunity in America and makes certain Eastern Washington continues to attract the best and brightest to remain competitive in the future.
I believe we need to reform America’s tax reform code. It’s much too complicated and is the primary reason for the wide tax gap that exists today. I will continue to advocate for policies that unleash the power of free markets and American ingenuity. I will also continue to oppose policies that punish hard-working taxpayers for their success. History has shown that, higher tax rates do not equate to more tax revenues for the government.
Since the launch of Obamacare, I’ve heard countless stories from all over Eastern Washington of real, everyday Americans that have been hurt by the President’s health care law. I’m actively seeking out ways to get people in Eastern Washington better access to quality health care. Recently, the President signed my billto establish a pediatric research network allowing hospitals and medical institutions to pool their resources together and coordinate activities related to pediatric rare diseases or birth defects. I’ve also co-sponsored two telehealth bills to provide access to more doctors in our rural communities.
These are some of my top priorities in 2014. There’s a lot to get working on and a lot to look forward to. I wish the best for you and your families and please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.