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We Need Leadership — We Need Each Other

Last week I was honored to be re-elected as the Democratic nominee for Oregon's Third Congressional District. Many of you have asked why I would choose to run for another term in Congress. While there are times I envision life without a weekly cross-country commute, I can't help but look at our community and feel the same frustration, hopelessness, and sadness as you. I recognize how much more work there is to do —especially in Congress— and I feel a deep commitment to making our community more livable, equitable, and economically secure. 

It starts with reconnecting. The last two years of this pandemic have pushed us to the brink. We are exhausted, burned out, mentally and emotionally strained — and some of us are grieving the loss of loved ones. That's why we need each other now, more than ever. While I am grateful for the innovative communication tools that have brought us together, I (like everyone else) miss the genuine connections that happen when we talk face to face. While there are still public health challenges and necessary precautions must be taken, I'm looking forward to reconnecting with the community-based organizations, leaders, and citizens who are on the ground making a difference in our community.

The path forward requires strong leadership. Our government has not lived up to our community's expectations. We must recommit to our values and deliver results. That means lowering rising household costs, solving the affordable housing crisis, and preparing for more extreme and frequent climate events. It also means standing up for reproductive freedom and reinvigorating my commitment to ending the failed War on Drugs. More recently, I took the idea of land acknowledgment a step further by introducing the first ever bill to allow Tribal co-management of federal lands, which honors the federal obligation to Native American Treaty rights and puts into practice their experience managing lands since Time Immemorial.

Oregonians know what to do. Your creativity and engagement makes a crucial difference in Washington D.C.! It was a small group of metro area restaurateurs who started the now thriving Independent Restaurant Coalition and worked side by side with me to pass pandemic relief funding for small, independently owned restaurants and bars. A second round of funding through my Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act passed the House. Unfortunately the Senate was unable to muster the votes to pass the bill, which was very disappointing. Importantly the Independent Restaurant Coalition has become a powerful force. As we look ahead to the next authorization of the federal Farm Bill, I am excited to work with their members on food and farm reform.

Your efforts matter. I am inspired by local activists coming together to demand that government leaders listen and take action. When environmental organizers came to me and declared governments treat the climate crisis like the emergency it is, I worked with them to write a Climate Emergency Resolution. That soon caught the attention of my friends Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and became the National Climate Emergency Act. This bill would mandate a national emergency under the National Emergencies Act of 1976 and outline steps that the president can take to address the climate crisis while centering environmental justice. As the drumbeat for climate leadership continues to grow, I will keep the call for an emergency declaration front and center.

New issues will continue to surface. One example is the baby formula shortage. As Oregonians face a 34% out-of-stock rate, and low-income families are at higher risk of price gouging, I was contacted by a Gresham-based baby formula manufacturer making safe to consume formula for international distribution. They are ready to ramp up and assist with the domestic shortage, but, as they explained, cannot because the FDA requires a costly, multi-year clinical trial process. Given the immediate nature of the shortage and the risks to already-stressed children and families, I appealed to the FDA Commissioner to work with small domestic manufacturers who make safe to consume formula (but haven't jumped through all the regulatory hoops) on a limited, emergency basis until the shortage is overcome. I’m hopeful that the FDA will help small companies cut through the red tape and that a local company will start getting its product out to Oregon families and those across America swiftly.

Chronic problems won't be solved overnight, but we can make progress. Fixing our affordable housing crisis and helping people in need of mental health services is going to take all of us at all levels of leadership. And we have what it takes. When Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge visited Portland recently she saw residents' resilience and joy at having a safe, affordable place to live on display at Walsh Commons, a new affordable housing development and family shelter with access to light rail. Many of you have helped me update my housing report, Locked Out 2.0, which is a legislative blueprint for Congressional actions to reverse decades of disinvestment in housing. Together, we can change the trajectory of homelessness, housing injustice, and affordability and make our communities places where everyone can live.

As you well know these challenges won't be solved immediately, but with leadership at all levels working together we can make substantial progress. We Oregonians have done this before. By reconnecting, and reaching out with innovative ideas and offers to help, we can do it again. Together, we will.



Posted on May 24, 2022.