By Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers
On July Fourth I had the honor of being in Walla Walla to celebrate not only America's 236th birthday, but the 150th anniversary of Walla Walla's founding. The proud citizens of Walla Walla put together a wonderful celebration -- a fitting capstone to America's Independence Day because, in many ways, Walla Walla is the perfect embodiment of the American Dream.
As your congresswoman, I am focused on many issues that directly affect Eastern Washington, plus a number of issues that uniquely affect Walla Walla.
For starters, I am working to make sure we have a new farm bill this year, which is important to Eastern Washington's farmers and ranchers. The farm bill that is currently in place was signed into law in 2008 but expires on Sept. 30, 2012.
I am working closely with congressional leaders -- including Agriculture Committee Chairman Frank Lucas -- to get a bill passed through the House in the next few months. I am hopeful we can make it happen.
Another key issue affecting Walla Walla is making sure that Alaska Air continues its service at the Walla Walla Airport. This was the top issue when I addressed the Economic Council at the Port of Walla Walla in May. We are committed to keeping that service, and I am going to continue working with Walla Walla's leaders and Alaska Air to make sure it stays.
To grow Walla Walla's economy, we not only have to maintain our transportation assets, we have to expand them. That means extending the improvements on U.S. Highway 12. I am working with state and local leaders to expand Highway 12 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway between Walla Walla and Burbank. The Washington state Department of Transportation identifies the expansion as a "priority project," and I agree. That's why expanding Highway 12 remains one of my top priorities.
As Walla Walla and the rest of America pull together to address the many challenges we face, I am encouraged by everything I saw and heard at the Fourth of July celebration.
There is nothing wrong with the American government that can't be cured by the wisdom of the American people. And if we listen to the people -- and follow their wisdom -- I know that America's best days are still ahead of us.