Column: Back to work in the other Washington
Last updated 9/12/2019 at 12:28pm
Each year, Congress breaks from session for what is referred to as “August Recess.”
This month isn’t much of a “recess” at all, which typically implies time to play and relax. Instead, August Recess, more aptly called the August District Work Period, is an opportunity for Members of Congress to return home, work throughout the District, and meet with the constituents they represent.
The federal government has a large footprint in Central Washington – from the Hanford cleanup site in Tri-Cities to the vast public and federally owned lands we enjoy to our ever-vital federal hydropower dams – and it is important for me, as your representative in Congress, to understand what matters most to you and your family.
I traveled to all corners of our District over the past month. I welcomed the Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, to Yakima where we toured our local archives and presented the library with dozens of books from the Library of Congress’ surplus books program. I hosted two ceremonies for Vietnam veterans in their families in Moses Lake and Okanogan, where I was honored to recognize the heroes who served our country with lapel pins and certificates to signify the gratitude of our nation.
I spoke with farmers and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Associate Chief Norton in West Richland about how Central Washington farmers are working to conserve our most precious resource: water. I joined forest users, tribal representatives, and local governments in Omak to discuss the best way to manage and restore our federal lands for both recreation and wildfire prevention. I toured local businesses, met with students and community leaders, and hosted several issue-based roundtables to discuss upcoming legislation.
Now, as the August District Work Period comes to a close, it is time to return to the other Washington and continue to work on legislative priorities and solutions for the people of Central Washington.
Congress returns to a number of looming deadlines – the most glaring of which is the September 30th deadline to fund the federal government. We must address our country’s growing debt, and we owe it to our children and grandchildren to reduce our spending and restore fiscal responsibility. The people of Central Washington deserve a government that works for them, governs responsibly, and doesn’t spend above its means. I will continue to reject increasing deficits and advocate for smart spending decisions.
Immigration reform and agricultural labor are two issues I hope to address soon after returning to D.C. I have been working across the aisle to help reform our H-2A program and provide relief for agricultural producers who are struggling to find labor, but there has also been a strong push for comprehensive changes to our immigration system, including increased border security and a solution for DACA recipients.
We must continue to promote economic prosperity. For Washington state, that means securing strong trade agreements with foreign markets. While President Trump and the Administration continue negotiations to level the playing field with China, it is crucial that Congress ratify the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement and bring relief to farmers and producers across the country – but especially in the nation’s most trade-reliant state.
With the families, communities, and businesses of Central Washington in mind, I look forward to returning to our nation’s capital to work alongside my colleagues on real, legislative solutions that benefit the American people.