Dan Newhouse

Congressman Dan Newhouse

Throughout these unprecedented times, Members of Congress – like many families across the country – are facing uncertainty about returning to work. While we understand that it will take time to return to business as usual, we should be taking important steps to ensure the legislative branch remains representative of the American people.

Our Founding Fathers designed Congress to operate under certain procedures to best represent the American people. As a former Member of the House Rules Committee, I have a unique understanding of and appreciation for our institution’s operations. I believe any changes made to the way we do business, like remote meetings or proxy voting, should be made deliberately and in a bipartisan manner.

Daily conference calls, negotiations with House leadership, and coalition letters have allowed me to represent Central Washington’s priorities throughout our response, but there is more to be done.

Serving on both the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress and the House Appropriations Legislative Branch Subcommittee, I know there are simple improvements we can make to ensure the People’s House operates more effectively and resiliently.

This week, Republican Leader McCarthy, House Rules Committee Ranking Member Tom Cole, and House Administration Committee Ranking Member Rodney Davis released “A Plan for the People’s House,” a thoughtful framework to safely allow Congress to reconvene.

By emphasizing social distancing throughout office buildings and meeting rooms, increased sanitation and other prevention efforts, and prioritizing the health of Members and staff, Congress can and should get back to work.

The federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic is not complete, and as we continue to improve existing programs and dedicate resources to meet the needs of our states and local communities, each Member of Congress deserves a seat at the table.

Meanwhile, Congress – which constitutionally holds the power of the purse – is facing funding deadlines that, without action, will have severe consequences.

The National Defense Authorization Act, the Water Resources Development Act, and all 12 appropriations bills are must-pass pieces of legislation that offer a strong history of bipartisan and bicameral action.

Additionally, the people of Central Washington are awaiting legislative action on several priorities I have been working on throughout the 116th Congress.

As we commemorate a national day of awareness for missing and murdered indigenous women, families on the Yakama and Colville Reservations are still waiting for answers about their loved ones and for passage of Savanna’s Act.

Our farmers continue to work to feed our country, but they are still in desperate need for legal labor and other improvements provided in the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.

Crumbling water infrastructure throughout our district is awaiting maintenance and repairs, which could be streamlined through the Water Supply Infrastructure and Resiliency Act.

There is no question about it: There is important work to be done. We should take this opportunity to modernize and improve upon our existing procedures, allow Congress to safely return to Washington, D.C., and more efficiently work on behalf of those we represent.

Congressman Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside serves the 4th Congressional District in Washington, D.C.

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