It’s been a busy few weeks in the nation’s capital as we’ve been working to create a better future for every American. I wanted to take a few minutes to update you on some of the highlights from the last two weeks here, and on some important updates for all of you in Eastern Washington.
First, I want to make sure you see the latest on our plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans are united under the shared goal of repealing this well-intentioned, but disastrous health care law, and providing relief to people in Eastern Washington and across the country. We’re committed to lowering costs, providing access to more choice, and strengthening Medicaid so we can provide quality, affordable health care to all. We are going to keep fighting until we can make this happen. I will keep you posted on any new developments, and I encourage you to share your opinion with me each step of the way.
Hearing from you makes me a better legislator, and every day I am listening, meeting with people, and addressing your concerns. Last week, I held a “Conversation with Cathy” telephone town hall to answer some of your questions and hear your thoughts on the latest news of the day. I appreciated the opportunity to talk with you about health care, our veterans community, and other issues. Thank you to everyone who joined the call, and in case you missed it, you can hear the audio from the call below.
One of my priorities is to make sure our veterans get the care they need when the time comes. That’s how we show our gratitude, as a nation, to our heroes. Last Friday, I sat down with Dr. David Shulkin, the new Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to talk about the issues facing Eastern Washington veterans and how we create a more accessible, accountable VA that fulfills its mission of serving veterans.
This week, I joined Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) to introduce legislation that will ensure that people who threaten religious centers with violence are prosecuted for committing a hate crime, the Combating Anti-Semitism Act. In Spokane, we’ve seen a rise in hate-related incidents, and in Mercer Island, a bomb threat was directed at the Stroum Jewish Community Center. In America, we have a moral imperative to ensure that no matter your background, religion, or walk of life, you are safe and free to worship whichever religion you choose without fear.
Earlier this week, I joined several colleagues in introducing a bill to help connect victims of domestic violence with legal representation. When it often feels there is nowhere else to turn, survivors of domestic violence should know that there are resources available to them. The bipartisan POWER Act encourages survivors to step out of the shadows, and break free from the cycle of abuse. You can find more information here.
I also hosted a number of meetings here in the nation’s capital for visitors and groups from Eastern Washington. I welcomed Save the Children; the American Dental Association; Mark, the CEO of the Spokane Workforce Development Council; Teddi, a local Etsy seller and online entrepreneur; a college student from Spokane interested in energy policy; the Association of Washington School Principals; and local representatives of the U.S. Travel Association. It’s always great having folks from Eastern Washington out here in Washington, D.C. and I was happy to welcome them to my office and visit with them.
I want you to know, I’ve been keeping an eye on the flooding across the region. Last week I had a call with county commissioners in Lincoln and Stevens Counties and have been in touch with the Governor’s office to ensure we get any needed resources. With everything happening in Eastern Washington, how we respond to natural disasters and other emergencies is more timely than ever.
This week, the House passed two bills to improve the way the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides assistance during emergencies. The first bill works to support innovative technology to improve communications during disaster response, and the second bill will promote cost-effectiveness, speed of recovery, and other accountability measures within FEMA. It’s never too early to be prepared, and I’m glad the House is taking steps to make sure we have everything in order if and when disaster strikes.
I’m always impressed by the creativity among high school students in Eastern Washington, and that’s why I am excited to announce this year’s Congressional Art Competition. Since 1982, young people from across the country have had the opportunity to display their art inside the United States Capitol – and this year is no different. Eastern Washington’s winner will display his or her piece of art for the thousands of visitors who come to our nation’s Capitol, and three runners-up will have the chance to display their entries in my Spokane, Colville, and Walla Walla offices. I look forward to seeing this year’s entries. The deadline for submission in April 26. If you have any questions about this year’s competition, feel free to visit my website here, or contact Jessie Laughery at 509-353-2374.
Finally, Go Zags! Congratulations to the Bulldogs for making it to the Final Four! What an accomplishment! Since it’s not March Madness without a little smack talk, check out the friendly wager Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina and I made ahead of Saturday’s game:
I’m optimistic about our future as we work to unify around shared goals to advance solutions for everyone in this country. If you don’t already, make sure to follow along on Facebook for updates and news as they happen.
Cathy McMorris Rodgers
Member of Congress