News from Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici

September 8, 2016

Dear Friend,

I hope everyone had a relaxing Labor Day! Although many people get the day off, remember that nurses, firefighters, and other first responders work through the holidays to keep our community safe and healthy.

It's been a newsworthy summer: many Oregonians competed in the Rio Olympics, including Beaverton fencer Mariel Zagunis, who won a bronze medal. And I was very alarmed to hear that the Zika virus is spreading in parts of Florida. Now that I'm back in Washington DC, one of my top priorities will be to secure funding to address this serious public health emergency.

Here's what I've been doing:

Hearing from people I represent
In August I met with constituents at six town hall meetings in Rainier, Seaside, Portland, Tigard, Hillsboro, and Dundee. It was a great opportunity to hear directly from Oregonians about the issues that matter most to them, including education, housing, preparing for emergencies, and how we can grow the economy. The ideas and concerns I heard will inform my work as I develop and implement solutions to the challenges we face in Oregon and across the country. Thank you to everyone who joined me.


Tackling Student Debt
The increasing cost of higher education leaves too many students with significant loan debt. Even people who graduate from college with little debt can encounter loan payments that are unmanageable. Repayment plans based on income allow people to pay what they can afford, reducing the chance of default. To make it easier for struggling borrowers to take advantage of income-driven repayment plans, I introduced the bipartisan SIMPLE (Streamlining Income-driven, Manageable Payments on Loans for Education) Act. This commonsense bill makes it easier for people to get in and stay in income-driven repayment plans and find relief from unaffordable loan payments. It is one part of the solution to making higher education a good investment and protecting people from financial distress.


Appreciating America's Diversity
My office recently helped an Army veteran bring his wife to the United States from Iraq, where he served as an interpreter during the Iraq War. I had the pleasure of meeting with them recently, and it was inspiring to hear about his service to our country and how relieved they are to be together in the U.S. The increase in violent acts and discrimination against Muslim Americans is unacceptable and contrary to our nation's commitment to religious freedom. At a listening session with Muslim community members, I heard concerns about public education and diversity in schools, religious freedom, and safety. I'll continue to stand up against un-American attacks on religious minorities, immigrants, and refugees.

Pursuing Bipartisan Solutions to Climate Change
The consequences of climate change are already visible across Northwest Oregon: the ocean is becoming more acidic and we are experiencing record-breaking high temperatures month after month. Our outdoor recreation industry is an example of how the changing climate is changing Oregon businesses. For example, I visited a snowboard shop in Beaverton that now sells more skateboards than snowboards because of the rising temperatures. This week, I'm joining the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus with Republican Representative Mark Amodei of Nevada to explore meaningful policies to address our changing climate. I'm encouraged that so many of my colleagues are putting aside differences and working together to solve this serious global challenge.

Enriching Schools and Communities with the Arts and STEAM Education
Arts education, STEAM programs, and the humanities are thriving across our state. In the past several weeks, I've enjoyed talking with Washington County STEAM advocates, learning about Columbia River Maritime Museum's new underwater robot program, and speaking with grant-seekers at a National Endowment for the Humanities grant workshop. Through these efforts and others like them, our students and communities will have more opportunities to learn, grow, and experience new ways of looking at the world.

You can find more updates about my work around the district and in Washington, D.C. on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. You can also contact my Oregon and Washington, D.C. offices with questions, comments, or for assistance with a federal agency. This mailbox is not monitored. To contact me via email, please use this secure web form.

P.S.—September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, and it's a great time to make a family emergency plan and start gathering the water and supplies you need to be ready for any emergency. Whether we're facing a power outage, winter floods, or a Cascadia earthquake and tsunami, it's always a good idea to be prepared.


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