End of old Congress, beginning of New Year
Last updated 2/1/2019 at 9:58am
As 2018 comes to a close, so does the 115th Congress. It is an honor to represent the diverse interests of the Fourth Congressional District, and I am especially proud of the accomplishments we achieved that will improve the quality of life in Central Washington.
One year after Congress passed historic tax relief for American taxpayers, we are seeing results in the form of higher paychecks, improved employee benefits, and growing small businesses. We are making it easier for Americans to save for their futures and encouraging innovation. I have heard stories from people across the Fourth District who are using their tax cuts and extra take-home pay to reinvest in our local communities. With the lowest unemployment rate in decades and hundreds of thousands of jobs being created each month, our country has a bright economic future.
One of the biggest economic drivers in our state is agriculture. As a farmer, I know first-hand the difficulties farmers and ranchers face in Central Washington, from scarce water resources and labor shortages to international trade and crop insurance. While there is still a lot of work left to be done, I have worked diligently with my colleagues and the Trump Administration to address each of these issues. I am pleased that Congress delivered on one of the most important pieces of agricultural legislation: the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill is only reauthorized every five years, but I am proud to have demonstrated its importance to Washington’s unique agriculture industry by bringing numerous influential policymakers to meet with Central Washington farmers, including U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, House Agriculture Committee Chairman Mike Conaway, Agriculture Subcommittee on Research Chairman Rodney Davis, and U.S. Agriculture Undersecretary Bill Northey. This bill will give farmers and ranchers the certainty they deserve and provide a safety net for the men and women in Washington state and across the country who produce the food that feeds America and the world.
Ensuring food security is one of the most important steps we can take to protect our communities, but Congress also took steps to alleviate the grief and pain caused by the growing opioid epidemic. I voted to support over 50 pieces of legislation that aim to prevent addiction and overdose, increase treatment options and alternative pain-management therapies, and give law enforcement agencies better tools to keep these dangerous drugs off the streets and out of our country. I was deeply moved to hear the personal stories from constituents affected by the opioid crisis at a symposium in Moses Lake, and I will continue to work on your behalf to stop these drugs from ravaging our communities.
While these pieces of legislation will do great things for Americans across the country, my proudest accomplishment is ensuring that our local voices are heard and that local heroes are honored. This year, my staff and I responded to over 13,000 phone calls, letters, and e-mails and assisted almost 400 constituents who were having trouble with a federal agency. When I learned that Sergeant Dietrich Schmieman of Richland was tragically killed in a military plane crash, I worked with his family to rename a Post Office in his honor. Working on the Appropriations Committee, I included language to ensure adequate funding for the Hanford cleanup and agricultural research and to prevent the privatization of the Bonneville Power Administration.
As we enter the 116th Congress and the New Year, the work is far from over. I look forward to making more progress on Central Washington’s priorities.