It’s been another great week as I continue to work to get results for you and for everyone in Eastern Washington. There’s no question that recently there’s been a lot of division in our country. As a nation, we are shouting at each other rather than talking to each other. We need to be willing to listen and understand people outside of our comfort zones. This spring, I have recommitted myself to coming together around common decency, common values, and a common love of our country. It’s an honor to represent you, to serve our community and I look forward to continuing these important conversations about how we bridge the gaps that divide us and work together for the betterment of our nation.
On Monday, I was in Spokane where I was meeting with people across the community to hear their thoughts and ideas. I started the day at the Spokane Teaching Health Clinic where I joined Washington State University Spokane, Providence Health, and Empire Health Foundation for a press conference to announce new legislation that I will introduce in the coming weeks to continue support for the Teaching Health Center and Graduate Medical Education (THCGME) program and help bring much-needed doctors to our rural and underserved communities. In case you missed it, you can see my remarks here:
Later, I made my way to Plug Power in Spokane to see how they are working to create jobs in our community through innovative fuel cell energy. Following a short meeting and tour of the facility, I sat down with more than 30 staff members for a question and answer session. We talked about how I’m working to find common ground and help unify and strengthen our community, the rising cost of higher education, and the importance of trade to our state.
I then stopped by the Seven Nation’s Healing Lodge in Spokane Valley. This 45-bed facility provides treatment for adolescents battling addiction and chemical dependency. The opioid epidemic and other addiction impacts all of us in communities across the country. Last year the People’s House took action to help put a stop to this epidemic. I was so happy to be able to stop by the Healing Lodge to see what they are doing in our community to help fight addiction and get people back on track.
From there, I joined Greater Spokane Incorporated at their board meeting to speak and provide an update on tax reform, health care, and regulatory reform, as well as the recent announcement that Fairchild Air Force Base was selected as the preferred alternative for 12 KC-135 tankers. I then made my way to Fairchild to congratulate General Everhart, the Commander of Air Mobility Command, on the tanker reassignment and to continue conversations about Fairchild and its impact in Eastern Washington.
The House was in session again this week, continuing to move forward on our aggressive agenda. This week we focused on workforce development and passed several pieces of legislation to more easily connect Americans to career and technical education and to help close the skills gap that prevents too many from finding good-paying jobs. Education is the key to success, and whether that’s a four-year degree, career or technical education, a certificate or other apprenticeship program, we need to be finding new and innovative ways to provide access to these programs so our young people can enter the workforce and access good jobs.
First, the House passed the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2325), which will help more Americans earn a lifetime of success by easing burdensome state requirements, increasing flexibility, supporting innovative learning opportunities, and building better partnerships in the workforce to encourage stronger engagement with employers. The House also passed the Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act (H.R. 2842). This legislation encourages employer-led partnerships with state and local agencies to hire those who receive aid from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, providing them with highly-valued work experience and job training. A job is much more than just a paycheck, and in our constant fight against the cycle of poverty, working to support career and technical education is an important step.
On Friday, I hosted another Facebook LIVE Q&A session to continue answering questions from you and hearing your thoughts on the important issues of the day. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to watch it here:
On Friday, the President signed the VA Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act. This bill is a great first step in fixing the culture at the VA and making sure our veterans, our nation’s heroes, are getting the care they’ve earned and need.
Also on Friday, I introduced the Hydropower Regulatory Modernization Act of 2017 to modernize and streamline hydropower relicensing processes. Hydropower plays a major role in our economy and energy supply in Eastern Washington. It is clean, safe, reliable, renewable, and affordable. On average, it takes only 18 months to license a new natural gas facility, but it can take up to 10 years or longer to license a new hydropower project or relicense an existing facility. As the largest source of renewable energy in the United States, we need to modernize the way we license and relicense hydropower and this legislation will do that. You can learn more about it here.