McMorris Rodgers Brings Eastern Washington to the Energy and Commerce Committee, Gavels In as Chair

Jan 31, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) gaveled in the Energy and Commerce Committee this morning for the first time as chair. She is the first woman to lead the committee since its creation in 1795.

As Eastern Washington’s voice in the People’s House, Cathy is committed to bringing the 5th District to the Energy and Commerce Committee. Today, she announced the new names of the following committee meeting rooms in the Rayburn House Office Building:

  • The Riverfront Meeting Room (Rayburn 2124) in honor of the historic Riverfront Park located in downtown Spokane.
  • The Palouse Conference Room (Rayburn 2124) in honor of the famous rolling hills of wheat that sprawl across southeastern Washington.
  • The Kettle Falls Room (Rayburn 2125) in honor of Cathy’s hometown in Stevens County where she lived and worked on her family’s orchard.

In the few short weeks since assuming the role as E&C Chair, Cathy has already taken the opportunity to shine a spotlight on Eastern Washington and the issues its families are facing by bringing community leaders and experts to Capitol Hill, including:

  • Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels to discuss the devastating role Big Tech is playing in the fentanyl crisis that is plaguing Spokane County.
  • Dr. Ed Schweitzer, founder of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) in Pullman, to share his expertise on strengthening America’s energy grid security and reducing dependence on foreign adversaries.
  • Dan Alsaker, President of Alsaker Corporation in Spokane, to offer his perspective on the negative impact rising energy costs are having on businesses across the Pacific Northwest.
  • Molly Cain, Parent Advocate from Spokane, who will testify before committee tomorrow about losing her 23-year old son to fentanyl poisoning.

Following the completion of this morning’s organizational meeting, Cathy gave each member of the committee a coffee mug. She challenged them to join her in a long-standing tradition she started serving the people of Eastern Washington – having a cup of coffee with someone across the aisle or someone you don’t always agree with to build unity.

“I want to challenge you. I want you to think about somebody across the aisle that you would like to get to know – or maybe the person that you thought ‘I really don’t want to get to know that person’ – and I’m going to challenge you to go grab a cup of coffee.

“I think you might be surprised. Some of the best memories that I have during my time in Congress have been those conversations. We all know life is about relationships, and the work that we do on this committee will be enhanced as we reach across the aisle, as we sit down and get to know each other, and grab a cup of coffee.” 

Below are excerpts from Cathy’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery:

“For 227 years, the Energy and Commerce Committee has been at the forefront of the most important issues before us as a nation.

“It’s the oldest committee in Congress. It was here at the beginning for the very first hopes and dreams in the Promise of America, where we have lifted more people out of poverty and led the world in raising the standard of living through free markets and individual liberty.

“Millions of Americans are depending on us to tackle today’s greatest challenges so they have the opportunity for a brighter future.

“Like families who struggle to afford their gas, grocery, doctors, and electricity bills. Young people in danger of dying from a fentanyl poisoning. Parents telling Big Tech to stop manipulating and harming our kids. Parents who want accountability for the school closures that hurt our children’s mental health and well-being. The person with a disability like my son Cole who dreams of a life full of possibilities. Patients who are searching for a cure. The next generation of thinkers and doers who want to create new things to challenge our broken institutions and broken systems.

“So many in America are in need of hope and healing, and all of us are eager to begin the people’s work. We will honor E&C’s rich history of plowing the hard ground to legislate, deliver results, and help make people’s lives better.

“Of course, it isn’t just what you do, it is how you do it.

“Trust is key. It’s where the magic happens. It’s foundational to everything we do. Where trust has been broken, we will do the hard work to rebuild it.

“I think about America’s origin story; the story that began with “We, the People.”

“Our start wasn’t about any specific individual or position of power or political party. It was about all of us—searching to form a more perfect union.

“None of us are perfect. Our founders certainly weren’t perfect. And this search that continues is much bigger than any one of us.

“Together, we can lead the way to inspire people to again believe in the promise of America and remind them that American leadership for free speech, free markets, and individual liberty matters.

“So, I look forward to working with all our members in the many days ahead.

“Let’s get to work.”


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