Jobs and the Economy
With many working families and businesses still struggling in the midst of our economy’s continued recovery, my top priority in Congress is helping to create jobs and build the foundation for long-term economic growth.
Our nation’s economic recovery continues to make progress; in 2014, payroll employment continued to rise, and the unemployment rate fell below 6 percent for the first time since 2008. But there are still too many Americans who can't find full-time employment. By focusing on efforts that help our small business and local industries succeed, we’ll be able to create and grow more good-paying jobs for years to come.
Growing our economy means investing in education, research, and infrastructure; equipping American workers with the skills they need to compete in the global economy; fixing our broken immigration system; pursuing a balanced approach to deficit reduction; reforming the tax code to ensure fairness for working families; and opening up new markets for U.S. exports.
Nowhere in the country is the economic impact of innovation and entrepreneurship more visible than in Washington’s First District, where our local industries — ranging from aerospace, manufacturing, high-tech, agriculture, clean energy, and healthcare — are driving the economy forward. Our district helps build the world’s best airplanes, grows the finest food, and designs world-class software.
To have strong, robust job growth, we must expand access to opportunity and build an economy that works for everyone. We must make investments in our education system to provide the training and skills workers need to be prepared for the jobs of today and tomorrow. We must also support our colleges and technical schools that can help develop the next generation of farmers, manufacturers, and innovators.
While there is much more work to be done, here are some of the steps I took during the last session of Congress to promote an economy that works for everyone:
- Job Training. Long-term economic growth and prosperity require a well trained workforce. The 2014 Farm Bill included $200 million to fund my proposal to expand job-training programs for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to learn the skills they need to get a good paying job. The programs funded by this pilot will be based on Washington state's successful Basic Food, Employment & Training program.
- Tax Relief. I voted to support the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 to keep income taxes low for the middle-class and grow the economy. This bipartisan legislation reduced the deficit by $737 billion through increasing tax rates on high-income earners, while providing tax relief for 98 percent of all Americans and 97 percent of small businesses.
- Restoring Unemployment Benefits. I have been a leader in efforts to extend emergency unemployment insurance for 1 million Americans, including 25,000 Washingtonians, who lost their benefits due to congressional inaction at the end of 2013. Each week that Congress fails to act, unemployed Americans, who continue to look for work, lose this key lifeline. Extending unemployment insurance is the right thing to do for unemployed workers and their families, and it is key to strengthening our economy.
- Making the Sales Tax Permanent. I was original cosponsor of bipartisan legislation to make the state and local sales tax deduction permanent, which would enable Washingtonians to continue deducting state sales tax on their federal tax returns. A recent report by Pew Charitable Trusts found that during the 2011 tax year, Washington was the state that used the deduction most, saving Washington taxpayers an average of $604 each.
- Promoting Commerce. Representing a district on the U.S.-Canadian border, I have been a leader in the effort to ensure the efficient and effective flow of goods and tourists across our borders to support our economy. I introduced H.R. 1886 to prevent the creation of a land border crossing fee in order to protect vital cross-border travel and commerce in Washington state. I am pleased that the omnibus government funding bill enacted in January 2014 included a provision that prohibits the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from implementing any land border crossing fee.
- Helping Local Businesses. I helped introduce the bipartisan Marketplace Fairness Act, which would allow local brick-and-mortar retailers to compete more effectively against out-of-state Internet retailers that do not collect sales taxes. This legislation would close the current tax loophole that has prevented states from collecting existing sales taxes on online purchases. In the last session of Congress, I participated in a Judiciary Committee hearing on this critical issue, and I remain committed to bringing this important legislation to the House floor this year.
- Supporting Women-Owned Businesses. I also introduced the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014. This legislation is aimed at improving access to lending and increasing business counseling and training services for women entrepreneurs, and giving women-owned businesses the same level of access to federal contracts as other disadvantaged groups.
With determination and a willingness to look past partisan divides, Congress must come together to find solutions to spur job growth, build strong communities, and create an economy that works for everyone.