U.S. Congressman Doc Hastings (R-Pasco) and U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) released the following statement today on the firefighting efforts underway in Central Washington:
“Our hearts go out to those Washingtonians and communities that have been impacted by the catastrophic wildfires now burning in north Central Washington. We are in close communication with the federal, state, and local authorities on the ground and we are committed to ensuring that the necessary resources and authorities are available to respond to this devastating fire. We extend our gratitude to our firefighters and other first responders who are working tirelessly on this effort.”
Millions of Americans continue to struggle to find work in today’s challenging economy. Many Central Washington workforce-training centers have successfully helped unemployed workers find jobs. However, on the federal level, much improvement can be made. Like with all federal programs, I believe Congress should routinely review them and make necessary improvements to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Job seekers currently face a maze of overlapping programs and an inefficient, bureaucratic training system, making it difficult to get the skills they need to compete for a job in today’s economy. With millions of Americans still out of work and nearly 4 million job openings unfilled, we must look for ways to modernize and reform our federal workforce development programs.
Last week, a good thing happened. House and Senate leaders from both parties came together and passed the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” sending it to the president’s desk for him to sign into law. This is a great example of what we can accomplish together when we listen to the American people.
This bipartisan, bicameral legislation makes much-needed updates to America’s workforce training system and helps put Americans back to work. Now more than ever, valuable education and workforce development opportunities are critical to building a stronger working class. We need a system that prepares employees for the 21st century workforce, while helping businesses find the skilled employees they need to compete and create jobs in America.
Too often, we hear of our soldiers returning from war and not being able to find work. The “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” better serves our veterans by providing support and equipping them with critical job training services in order to find good paying jobs.
As a former small business owner, I recognize the challenges many employers face in finding workers with the proper qualifications to hire. This legislation streamlines the workforce training system by consolidating 15 existing programs and saves taxpayer dollars by cutting bureaucratic government red tape. The bill also gives Washington state more flexibility to tailor our job training programs to meet the needs for occupations in-demand. Most importantly, it prepares American job seekers with the skills and tools they need to compete in a 21st century workforce.Ensuring Washington state maintains a dynamic workforce is critical to growing our economy. The “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act” is a common-sense bill that supports employers who seek skilled employees and expands opportunities for job seekers to achieve the American Dream. Read More
Every day, I hear from hardworking people in Central Washington who are struggling to support their families and put food on the table. They are frustrated with the state of our nation’s economy. Overall, Americans’ take home pay is dwindling and they’re falling further and further behind due to the higher cost of living.
Realizing the discontent of the American people, President Obama attempted to put fears to rest by declaring the 2010 summer as the ‘Recovery Summer’ – a time when Americans would begin to see robust job growth, the benefits of the economic stimulus and bailouts and recovery would sweep across the country. That was four years ago.
Four years after the ‘Recovery Summer,’ the American people continue to experience the worst economic ‘recovery’ ever. Under President Obama, nearly 10 million people are still out of work today and our nation’s unemployment rate has hovered at or above 6 percent for the past six years. For the 49th time in 50 months, more people gave up looking for work than those who found a new job. Making matters worse, the U.S. economy shrank at an annual rate of 2.9 percent – the worst economic decline since the first quarter of 2009.
American families are being stretched thin by a weak economy, stagnant wages, and higher costs on everything from groceries to health care to gasoline. It’s natural for hardworking Americans to think, “I don’t have confidence in how the government is spending my tax dollars. I’d rather hang on to what I’ve got.”
What Washington, D.C. Democrats have failed to realize is economic recovery does not come from government bailouts and stimulus spending. True recovery comes from commonsense solutions to help the private sector grow jobs.
In stark contrast to this administration’s approach, House Republicans continue to make hardworking taxpayers’ priorities our priorities. The House has passed bill after bill to create more jobs and jumpstart the economy – allowing people to keep more of their hard-earned money and creating more opportunities for working-class families.
Unfortunately for the American people, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and his Democrat colleagues have refused to consider the more than 40 House-passed jobs bills. Disappointing economic growth in the first half of 2014 underscores the need for the Senate to pass these pro-growth bills that would increase American energy production, provide much-needed relief to small businesses, expand educational opportunities, and allow our manufacturers to compete across the globe.
Four years later, the ‘Recovery Summer’ still feels far from complete. It’s time for a change from the last six years of President Obama’s failed economic policies. We need a strong economy to get Americans the good paying, full time jobs they want and need. It’s time for President Obama to call on the Senate to act on these pro-jobs, pro-growth bills.Read More
Congressman Doc Hastings released the following statement on his bill H.R. 1158, the North Cascades National Park Service Complex Fish Stocking Act, which passed the U.S. Senate last night:
“Senate passage ensures that the time-honored tradition of recreational fishing continues in the lakes of North Cascades National Park. The hundred-plus year practice of fish stocking in these lakes boosts public access, tourism, small businesses, and the local economy. I’m pleased to see the Senate join the support of so many throughout Washington and bring fish stocking one step closer to reality for future generations.
“Enactment of this bill, after many years of effort, is yet another positive sign for other Washington state public lands-related bills. I am optimistic that adoption of this bill, following on the heels of the passage in April of the Green Mountain Lookout Heritage Protection Act, is a sign of growing momentum toward possible agreement and resolution on other Washington state public lands bills before the end of this year.”
Hastings’ bill ensures fish stocking continues in certain lakes in the North Cascades National Park Complex. Many of the alpine lakes have historically been stocked with fish since the late 1800s, long before they became part of the National Park System, and are home to many recreational activities that draw Park visitors from around the state, region, and beyond. Without legislative authority, the National Park Service has put an end to this time-honored tradition of fish stocking.
A longtime Central Washington priority for Hastings, the legislation previously passed the House of Representatives in the 111th and 112th Congresses and again passed with unanimous approval in June 2013. Hastings’ bill now heads to the president’s desk for his signature.
Simpson: At this time, I yield to the gentleman from Washington for the purpose of a colloquy.
Hastings: I thank the gentleman for yielding. I want to thank you for restoring a portion of this Administration’s proposed cut to the Richland Operations Office at Hanford in my district. I appreciate your willingness to work with me on funding and I know the provisions on Yucca Mountain and MOX are also key to Hanford cleanup success.
Richland Operations Office is responsible for many critical cleanup projects and legal commitments, and progress there has largely been a success. This represents a new model for cleanup and it has been successful. It’s nearing completion and will save the taxpayers $250 million. I’m encouraged that the $235 million in this bill provided for cleanup of the River Corridor will focus on meeting 300 Area milestones under the River Corridor Closure contract.
As the appropriations process continues, I look forward to working with you to ensure appropriate restoration for Richland given the budget constraints that we have. Mr. Chairman, this is my last Energy and Water bill, yet I am confident that Hanford has a friend and an advocate in your leadership. Now, when it comes to the other project at Hanford, the Office of River Protection, there are a number of challenges. Among other things, I’m hopeful that DOE and the State of Washington will reach an agreement on an achievable and fundable path forward for WTP. And with that, I’d like to yield back to the gentleman.
Simpson: First, I’d like to thank the gentleman from Washington for his continued advocacy for Hanford cleanup funding on the Energy and Water bill. His leadership on these issues will be sorely missed in the future. I’m pleased to support funding for the cleanup of the River Corridor and am hopeful that the Department of Energy will soon provide the necessary details for the Waste Treatment Plant project. WTP is a critical project – but Congress needs more answers and greater transparency. I look forward to working with you to make sure adequate funding is available should a new agreement on the path forward for the project be reached.
Hastings: I thank the gentleman and I yield back.
It was 241 years ago when American colonists took part in what is now known as the Boston Tea Party, which lead to the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the beginning of our nation’s democracy. Unfair taxation and an overbearing government inspired these patriots to embark on the ultimate challenge of establishing a representational government built upon the basic principles of freedom and liberty for all.
More than two centuries have passed since the Boston Tea Party, yet the struggle against big government and an unfair and overly complex tax code persists. Since President Obama took office, he has signed 22 new tax increases into law. The largest tax increase being Obamacare, which created over $800 billion in new taxes – many of which will fall on the middle class.
Local businesses are also feeling the pinch of higher taxes. A June study by Small Business Economic Trends revealed that 25 percent of small-business owners cite high taxes as the single biggest obstacle to growing their businesses and hiring employees.
At 39.1 percent, the United States has the highest corporate tax rate in the world. In a global marketplace, American businesses cannot compete when they are taxed at a rate that is 10 percent higher than the world average. Washingtonians know better than anyone else about competing in a global marketplace, as 40 percent of jobs in our state rely on international trade.
In order to spur economic growth, I believe we must allow hardworking Americans and job creators to keep more of their hard-earned money. Americans know how to spend their money far better than the federal government. Simplifying the federal tax code, closing loopholes, lowering taxes on families, farmers, and small businesses, cutting spending, and implementing fair trade policies will get our economy moving again.
Our nation needs real jobs, real solutions, and real results. What President Reagan once said is as true today as it was then: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.” We need a more efficient, effective, government that spends less of our taxpayers’ hard-earned dollars.
The looming threat of tax increases and uncertainty continues to stall economic growth. As we celebrate the founding of our great country, tax reform measures must be considered in order to bring certainty to American families and job creators and protect hardworking taxpayers from looming increases.Read More
All across Central Washington, school is out, summer is in full bloom, and the 2014 harvest is underway. Many families will spend the Independence Day weekend enjoying the weather outdoors in the Columbia River Gorge for water sports, hiking through the Wenatchee National Forest, white water rafting down the White Salmon River, enjoying a day at one of Central Washington’s vineyards, or fishing in the lakes of North Cascades National Park. As in years past, the warmer weather and the promise of summer vacation drives up the demand and the price for gasoline. So far this year, we are seeing another summer of high gasoline prices that will discourage people from touring our region and impact our economy.
Since President Obama took office five years ago, gasoline prices have doubled and our federal energy resources have been put under tight lock-and-key. This is unacceptable. High gasoline prices are squeezing working class families, increasing the costs of groceries and other goods, and forcing businesses to cut costs and raise prices. Rising gasoline prices are a drain on our economy and our pocketbooks. Commuting to work, running the kids to summer camps, and putting food on the table are all becoming increasingly difficult to afford.
Rising gasoline costs disproportionately affect rural areas like Central Washington. Famers spend an average of nearly 60% more of their income on energy than their urban counterparts. Those of us in the Yakima Valley or Columbia Basin feel the pain at the pump far more than our friends to the west in Seattle or Tacoma.
The good news is that four-dollar gasoline doesn’t have to be our reality. This week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a series of bills that would lower energy costs for hardworking Americans across the country and create new American jobs. One of those bills, which I authored, would responsibly harness the American energy resources we have right here at home, which would reduce our dependence on foreign oil and help ease the pain at the pump for every American. Another bill that passed the House would put an end to bureaucratic and administrative delays for oil pipelines – such as the widely supported Keystone XL pipeline, natural gas pipelines, and electric transmission lines.
The House has acted on real American energy solutions that will put more money back into people’s pockets. The approval of these bipartisan, common sense bills is a bold step forward to unlocking America’s energy potential and creating over one million new American jobs, strengthening our national security, improving our economy, and ensuring that Americans have access to affordable energy. With lower gasoline prices, more people will be able to visit Central Washington, take in the unique beauty of our region, and enjoy everything we have to offer throughout the summer.Read More
Today, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee Water and Power held an oversight hearing on “New Federal Schemes to Soak Up Water Authority: Impacts on States, Water Users, Recreation, and Jobs.” The hearing examined recent actions by the Obama Administration to turn over longstanding water rights and eliminate multiple land and water uses on and off federal lands.
The proposed “Waters of the U.S.” regulation and the U.S. Forest Service’s Groundwater Directive are measures proposed by the Obama Administration that many believe are land and water grabs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (U.S. Forest Service) and Bureau of Reclamation refused the Committee’s invitation to send witnesses to testify and answer questions regarding the proposed regulations. However, witnesses representing small businesses from across the nation testified on the impacts of the proposed Obama Administration regulations, including higher food, water, and electricity costs, the undermining of states’ rights, and current and future water supply infrastructure.
“We can foster water development for people and species if the federal government chooses not to erect hurdles to new projects,” said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings. “Yet, the two proposals in front of us – the EPA’s ‘Waters of the U.S.’ and the Forest Service’s new ‘Groundwater Directive’ do nothing more than make it more difficult to rehabilitate or build new projects that benefit agriculture, municipalities, species and habitat.”
During the hearing, both Hastings and Yakima resident Larry Martin raised specific concerns about the impact that the Forest Service’s Directive could have on the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Resource Management Plan.
“In the Yakima Basin, after decades of fighting resulting in inaction, water users representing agriculture, municipal, tribal and environmental interests throughout the region put aside their differences to craft a water plan that meets everyone’s needs,” said Larry Martin, who testified at the hearing on behalf of the National Water Resources Association. “Essential elements of the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan are improvements to reservoirs located on Forest Service lands…the Forest Service Directive could delay or derail the implementation of this vital, innovative, and broadly supported plan, including already approved projects that will provide water for fish and habitat.”
At the beginning of today’s hearing, the House Water and Power Subcommittee Chairman Tom McClintock released a letter from Hastings and over 40 Members of Congress, representing Americans from across the country, urging U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to withdraw this Groundwater Directive.
In addition, Hastings has previously raised concerns about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers’ federal water grab, which could place nearly every body of water ranging from irrigation canals to small ponds and seasonal ditches under the unlimited authority of the federal government. In May, Hastings joined more than 200 Members of Congress on a bipartisan letter calling on the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw their plan to expand federal control under the Clean Water Act. Click here to read a recent weekly column that Hastings wrote on the job-killing proposal.
With the start of summer, Central Washington farmers are working harder than ever to produce some of the world’s finest and most diverse agricultural products. Our region is known for producing a wide variety of top-quality agricultural products that are enjoyed by consumers worldwide. This includes sweet cherries, of which Washington state is the leading producer in the United States.
In a state known for companies like Boeing, Microsoft, and Starbucks, some on the West side of the mountains and in other parts of the country may find it surprising that our state’s number one industry is actually agriculture – netting over $9.5 billion for our state’s economy. Central Washington’s fertile soil, dry and warm climate, irrigation, and abundance of sunshine offer one of the most productive and diverse growing regions in the world.
Thanks in large part to the warm spring we have had this year, Washington state shipped 600,000 boxes of cherries in its first week of the season and this year is predicted to be the state’s third-largest crop on record. With a significant percentage of our crops in high demand overseas, our agricultural products are a major reason that Washington state is the most trade-dependent state in the nation.
Our thriving cherry industry relies on fair access to overseas markets. Experts forecast the Pacific Northwest will export 20 million 20-pound boxes of cherries this year. Therefore, it’s important for the United States to invest in trade programs that are critical to ensuring our growers and processors remain competitive in the global marketplace. This means holding our existing trade partners accountable for fair policies that allow our local cherry growers to compete on a level playing field, as well as pursuing new trade agreements to give them access to more buyers internationally and ensuring long-term economic growth that will benefit our local communities.
The cherries that stay within the United States also provide economic benefits in Central Washington and beyond. Many of the products are sold at fruit stands and small, family-owned businesses that are the backbone of local economies throughout the nation.
Like all farmers and ranchers, Central Washington cherry growers have faced many challenges and weather hardships over the years. However, through their hard work and dedication to producing a quality product, they have kept Central Washington on the map as the leader in cherry production.Read More
The House Appropriations Committee released its Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Appropriations bill and report today. The bill includes funding for Hanford cleanup. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to consider the bill on June 18th. A statement from Congressman Doc Hastings follows:
“I'm encouraged by the $25 million restoration for the Richland Operations Office which will help meet critical cleanup commitments along the River Corridor and elsewhere at the site. Cleanup work at the Tank Farms is fully funded. Support for Yucca Mountain, limitations on possible MOX alternatives involving Hanford and the clarification about DOE’s reprogramming authority are all beneficial to cleanup here.
“There are slight reductions to WTP including for the Low Activity Waste Pretreatment System which DOE proposed in its framework document. I'm hopeful that by the time any final funding bill is written, the Department will provide more details about the framework cost and schedule and an agreement will be reached between DOE and the State of Washington on a final path forward. And, I welcome the required report on the cost and timeline that would be involved if new tanks were to be built so that all stakeholders can have a full understanding of the risks and trade-offs involved as those negotiations continue.”
1203 Longworth HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Doc Hastings first joined the U.S. House of Representatives in 1995 to serve Washington’s Fourth Congressional District. He brought with him solid legislative experience and a strong work ethic, coupled with the desire to bring the common sense traditional values of Central Washington back to Washington, D.C.
After graduating from Pasco High School, Doc studied business administration at Columbia Basin College and at Central Washington University. Later, while running his family’s small business, Columbia Basin Paper and Supply, Doc established himself as a leader in the local business community. Before being elected to Congress, Doc served eight years in the Washington State Legislature.
During his tenure in the House of Representatives, Doc has established a long record of serving the people, communities, and priorities of Central Washington. He supported ongoing efforts for new water storage in the Yakima Basin; passed a law to protect the survivor benefits for families of soldiers killed in action; worked to enact fair trade agreements that benefit Washington state; and fought attempts to ban local doctor-owned hospitals. He continues to lead efforts to open new markets for local farmers and remains a strong defender of dams and a proponent of nuclear power.
In 2011, at the start of the 112th Congress, Doc was selected by his colleagues to serve as the Chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources. The Committee has jurisdiction over most federal land use and water policies, including national forests, national parks and monuments, wilderness areas, national scenic areas, Indian reservations, and Bureau of Land Management lands. Of importance to Central Washington and the Pacific Northwest, the Committee oversees the Bonneville Power Administration, Bureau of Reclamation irrigation projects (Columbia Basin Project and Yakima Project), endangered species recovery, federal hydropower projects, Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes (PILT) payments, and wildfire prevention on federal lands.
Under Doc’s leadership, the Committee is dedicated to pursuing policies that both strengthen our economy and protect our nation’s treasured lands, oceans, and wildlife. Specifically, Doc’s priorities include increasing American energy production, ensuring U.S. offshore drilling is the safest in the world, guaranteeing access to public lands for recreation and job creation, effective management of our nation’s oceans, and fighting for water rights in the West.
Doc is the founder and Chairman of the House Nuclear Clean-Up Caucus. He also serves as a Co-Chairman of the Northwest Energy Caucus and is a member of the Rural Health Care Coalition and the Specialty Crop Caucus.
Doc and his wife Claire live in Pasco, Washington. They have three children and eight grandchildren.
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Today we celebrate the 238th birthday of our great nation. Happy 4th of July! http://t.co/0zf1L79LO1
Last night, I joined Senators Murray and Cantwell and Congressman Reichert in asking the White House to swiftly approve an emergency disaster
I joined U.S. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell in issuing a statement today regarding the ongoing firefighting efforts underway in Central
A #wildfire state of emergency has been declared for 20 counties in Washington. For your safety, please monitor local news reports and follow
In the past 20 years, the World Wide Web has connected communities and improved the lives of all Americans. The Internet should remain an unrestricted
Today we celebrate the 238th birthday of our great nation. I would like to wish you and your family a Happy Independence Day.