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Opinion >  Guest Opinion

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers: With a stronger military and increased support for our veterans, people in Eastern Washington are Better Off Now

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Two years ago, I made a promise alongside House Republicans to provide a better way for America’s future by focusing on pro-growth policies like tax cuts and regulatory relief to unleash economic growth. Today, because we’ve kept those promises, the economy is booming and people are Better Off Now.

After years of struggling to get ahead, the American people are seeing jobs, opportunity and confidence come roaring back. There are currently more job openings in America than there are people looking for jobs. In Eastern Washington, we are seeing wage increases between 3 and 9 percent in every single county. People are coming off the sidelines and back into the workforce. Small businesses have record-high optimism about their future. This is the comeback story I said was possible under a Republican Congress alongside a Republican president, and I’m most encouraged by the hope and optimism it’s bringing back to our community and to America as a whole.

People are dreaming again because they have more opportunities for a better life in an economy where they have a better chance to get ahead – and that’s not all. These same policies that are empowering people to reach their full potential are also helping us build an America that is stronger at home and abroad.

Here’s how: For our nation to be a diplomatic power, it must be a military power. To be a military power, we must be an economic power. It’s all connected.

That’s why, in addition to growing the economy, I made it a top priority to rebuild our military. After years of neglect, the previous administration left our armed forces overstretched, undertrained and depleted. It created a readiness crisis that has jeopardized our troops’ lives and threatened our national security. In 2017, more troops were killed in training accidents than in combat. That same year, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis warned Congress that America had diminished military might. He said, “[E]very operating domain – including outer space, air, sea, undersea, land and cyberspace – is contested.”

Just as we did to provide a better way for our economy, two years ago, I, alongside House Republicans, unveiled a Better Way to Keep Us Safe and Free. From that plan, we’ve kept our promise to prioritize military funding. As a result, our nation and those who serve to protect it are Better Off Now.

In addition to giving our troops their biggest pay raise in almost a decade, we provided for the largest increase in defense funding in 15 years. After years of spending cuts, our service members at Fairchild Air Force Base and around the world will now have the additional resources to train, address the readiness crisis, and keep America safe. The No. 1 responsibility of the federal government is to keep our country secure and our citizens safe. Because of our policies, our military has been able to add 20,000 troops to bolster its size and strength, and we’ve gotten tougher than ever on combating ISIS and other terrorist groups. I’ve also helped secure 12 more tankers for Fairchild and pass funding to expedite their delivery. This additional squadron of tankers will make Fairchild the largest tanker base in the country, securing long-term certainty in its role as part of the Air Force’s mission of global mobility and reach.

We are also making sure that we are caring for our nation’s heroes when they come home. Earlier this year, I helped pass the VA MISSION Act (S. 2372) to reform and strengthen the Department of Veterans Affairs and make it work better for Eastern Washington veterans. This bill, which consolidates the VA’s multiple community care programs and extends the Choice Program, will help ensure that our veterans get the care they have earned when they need it.

I’ve also gone to work to help the Spokane VA. I led in securing funding to fix a previously unknown hole in the roof last summer and led in advocating for the reopening of 24-hour urgent care. I’m also on a mission to bring more doctors to the VA, and that starts with bringing more residencies here. I’ve been proud to secure more funding for VA residency slots and am working right now to make the Spokane VA a teaching hospital so doctors can go to medical school here in Spokane, train at the Spokane VA, and then continue to serve our veterans here in the Inland Northwest.

Bottom line, our veterans deserve the best care imaginable, and while I have voted to triple the VA’s budget since I’ve been in office, I believe we also need a culture change at the VA. We need to be rolling out the red carpet for our veterans every chance we get. They have earned the highest quality care that we can provide; that’s why I’m working to make sure they get it.

I’ve kept my promises to get our economy growing, rebuild our military, and provide additional support and resources for our veterans. Visit Better.GOP to learn more about how because of these kept promises, people here in Eastern Washington are safer, more secure and more prosperous. We are Better Off Now, and we are just getting started.

Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R, is the U.S. representative for the 5th Congressional District of Washington.

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