U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers touches down for visit to Walla Walla

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' time in town included a trip to the local VA and meetings with community leaders.

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U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, left, listens as Brian Westfield, director of the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center, talks about ongoing projects. McMorris Rodgers was in Walla Walla Monday to talk with community leaders and others before returning to Washington D.C., weather permitting.

WALLA WALLA -- U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers picked a good time to visit Walla Walla.

Escaping Washington, D.C., before it was shut down by a massive snowstorm, McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., spent Wednesday visiting with community leaders about pending federal issues and local topics.

During the morning, the congresswoman met with members of the Moms' Network and with Steven Moss of the Blue Mountain Action Council. Next came a brown bag lunch with the Walla Walla Valley Chamber of Commerce.

Afternoon visits included an update on construction projects at the Jonathan M. Wainwright Memorial Veterans Affairs Medical Center and a meeting with Bill Clemens, Pacific Power general manager and chair of the Region X Workforce Development Council and Dayton Chamber and Economic Development Council.

At the luncheon, McMorris Rodgers went over a laundry list of legislation pending or passed by Congress, then fielded questions from the audience.

Issues included business issues, health care ("derailed, but there is some regrouping"), cap-and-trade legislation ("the Senate has really put the brakes on it") and the looming debate over renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Another topic, McMorris Rodgers said, is the need to address what to do about programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which are headed for bankruptcy. In order to make the hard decisions that will be needed, McMorris Rodgers said she favors a mechanism similar to the military Base Realignment and Closure Commission, which is designed to remove political influence from the decision-making process.

"The sooner we get honest about the situation and the sooner we do something about it, the better," she said.

Andy Porter can be reached at andyporter@wwub.com or 526-8318. Check out his blog at blogs.ublabs.org/randomthoughts.

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