Congratulations to Lake Oswego High School’s Tuesday Lewman who is our district’s winner of the 2017 Congressional Art Competition with “The Dynamic Personality Behind the Brand.” Her artwork will be displayed in the Capitol Building alongside the winners from each congressional district across the country. I’d also like to congratulate 1st runner-up Sasha Hennig with “Gauche,” 2nd runner-up Wooyeon Kim with “Childhood Memories,” 3rd runner-up Alexandra Lyon with “Royals,” and our first ever People's Choice Award winner, Claire Schlagenhaft, for her piece, “Whisper.” Thank you to all of the students who submitted their work and for everyone’s engagement in our young artists.
Mid-month, I had the pleasure of touring small businesses in downtown Woodburn alongside State Representative Teresa Alonso Leon, the Woodburn Area Chamber of Commerce and the Woodburn Downtown Association. Together, we visited El Forastero Ropa Vaquera, a footwear company specializing in cowboy boots, Tienda Lucero, a local grocery store, and local meat market Carniceria Jalisco. Small businesses are essential to our communities, providing good paying jobs and much-needed goods and services. As a former small business owner, I know first-hand what it takes to not only stay afloat but to be successful. This week is National Small Business Week, and I encourage folks to get out there and support the small businesses in your community.
You may have read in the news recently about an Iraq veteran in Oregon, Aaron Olivas, who participated in the Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers program which allowed his wife to be his caregiver at home. Right now, the Portland VA has kicked more veterans, including Aaron, out of the Caregiver Program than anywhere else in the country by more than 30 percent. In no way does this reflect Oregon or our Oregon values. Our veterans give us so much and deserve so much better than this. After hearing Aaron’s story, I immediately called on the VA to stop removing Oregon’s veterans from the Caregiver Program until we get answers and have more transparency about why our veterans are being removed from the program. I’m pleased to say that after hearing my concerns, the VA put a halt on removing veterans from the program, not only in Portland but across the entire country.
At the beginning of the month, I introduced the bipartisan Electric Reliability and Forest Protection Act with Congressmen Doug LaMalfa (R-CA). Our bill aims to ensure grid reliability by reducing preventable forest fires caused by trees falling on power lines. State and federal laws require routine maintenance on federal lands, but bureaucratic red tape and inconsistent direction from federal agencies have muddied the process, stalling utilities’ ability to conduct routine maintenance in the right-of-way they are required to do by law. Our bill will cut through that red tape to help these utilities remove dangerous trees in a timely manner thus preventing unnecessary blackouts and forest fires. I’m proud to say that our bill passed out of the Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support last week. Our bill is a no-brainer and a great example of the bipartisan work this Congress can achieve when we work together.
Last month I reintroduced my Hold Congress Accountable Act (H.R.1794), which would reduce Members’ salaries (including my own!) if the government shuts down for as long as the shutdown continues. Shutting down the government shouldn’t be a last resort: it should never even be an option. I also cosponsored the No Budget, No Pay Act (H.R. 1779), which would suspend Members’ salaries if we do not pass a budget on time. In every other profession, if you don’t do your job, you don’t get paid. Why on earth should we be any different? If we can't complete the single most important responsibility we have – passing a budget on time – none of us deserve a paycheck.
You’ve probably been reading about the President’s 100th day in office. But did you know that April 12th marked the 100th day of the new Congress? Below are just a few highlights of what my staff and I have accomplished in those first 100 days working for Oregonians at home.