Before heading back to Washington D.C., Washington’s 6th District Representative Derek Kilmer — along with his 13-year-old daughter in tow — held a town hall meeting at the Suquamish Tribal Center to field a variety of questions ranging from what he is doing to help local tribes maintain their treaty rights, to cleaning up the Puget Sound.
“Probably the most common question I get is, ‘dear God why would anyone want to be in congressman? It’s such a mess, and you’ve got two little kids,’ and my response is: ‘because its a mess and I’ve got two young kids and I actually care about what kind of country they grow up in,’” Kilmer said.
This town hall was the second in-person gathering Rep. Kilmer has held this year, the first being in Port Angeles at the Elwha Klallam Heritage Center in Port Angeles a day prior.
Rep. Kilmer was introduced by Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman who praised Kilmer for the work he has been doing on behalf of the Tribe.
“One of the things that we are really happy about is the Defense Authorization bill which has required the Navy to get into early consultation with the tribe on issues that affect our treaty and fishing rights,” Forsman said.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a bill that authorizes funding for the Department of Defense and defense-related activities of other departments. A provision of the bill added by Rep. Kilmer requires the DOD and the military to have consultations with local tribes when military construction projects could potentially impact treaty rights.
Rep. Kilmer spoke to recent legislation surrounding the cleanup of Puget Sound waterways and the roles played by the Suquamish Tribe and Forsman throughout the process.
“There’s a number of things that Chairman Forsman could have talked about us working on, certainly the language in the defense bill is one of them … To me, one of the highlights of the year was seeing an 18 percent increase in funding for Puget Sound recovery and frankly, that would not have happened but for the leadership of Chairman Forsman and some of the other tribes in our region,” Kilmer said.
Kilmer went spoke broadly about what he and his office have been doing to get the government and the economy working better for people.
“I think there is too much money in our political system and I thought it was a really good thing when democrats took the majority in the House, the very first [bill] that we passed was a bill called HR1, the For the People Act,” Kilmer said. “It was a bill that focused on a number of things, most importantly trying to reduce the role of money in politics.”
HR1 includes a number of other bills that reduce the roles of special interest and political action committees in campaign finance. Rep. Kilmer is the lead sponsor of two bills that are encompassed in HR1, one which would seek to restore the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Kilmer joked that the FEC was almost as dysfunctional as Congress, before sharing a story about the commission arriving at an impasse when trying to decide whether to buy donuts or bagels for a recent anniversary breakfast.
The second bill sponsored by Kilmer, The Honest Ads Act, would require political candidates and special interest groups to disclose who they are when buying internet ads to influence an election.
“We know more and more political spending is going onto the internet and second we know that there are foreign countries that are trying to influence American elections by buying ads on the internet. Right now there are no laws that protect against that and have suitable disclosure,” Kilmer said.
On the topic of global climate change, Kilmer pointed to a bill he co-sponsored which would have the U.S. re-enter the Paris Climate Accord and make a commitment to reduce toxic emissions.
Rep.Kilmer is also the co-sponsor on the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividends bill which proposed that a fee be placed on the carbon content of fuels like crude oil, natural gas, and coal. The fees would be deposited into a Carbon Dividend Trust Fund.
“I actually think its a really smart proposal for making substantial reductions to carbon emissions, because what economists would tell you is that if you want to reduce the use of carbon you have to put a price on carbon,” he said. “What that proposal does — I think in a really thoughtful way — is that it provides a dividend back to American taxpayers.”
Finally, on the topic of Medicare, Kilmer stated that he believes no one should go broke if they get sick and no one should get sick without care because they lack the funds. Kilmer also noted that one of the many frustrations he has with the current administration is its efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act.
“We’ve seen an utter sabotage of the Affordable Care Act under this administration, I don’t say that in a partisan way… I wasn’t in Congress when the Affordable Care Act was passed, I don’t think it’s a perfect law. But it undeniably made progress for a bunch of the people that I represent,” Kilmer said.
According to Kilmer, it is his goal to achieve universal healthcare by undoing what the current administration has done to the Affordable Care Act and build upon it.