Greg Walden Update

House Passes Historic Legislation to Combat Opioid Crisis

These past two weeks, the House of Representatives has dedicated tremendous amounts of time and energy to send a simple message to the millions of Americas impacted by the opioid crisis: ‘Help is on the way.’ On Friday, the House passed legislation I introduced called the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Act. With a strong bipartisan vote of 396-14, we sent the clear signal that striking back against the opioid crisis transcends politics and party lines.

The bipartisan bill will help in overall efforts to advance treatment and recovery initiatives, improve prevention, protect our communities, and bolster our efforts to fight deadly illicit synthetic drugs like fentanyl. According to recent news reports, this bill represents the largest congressional effort to combat the opioid crisis in recent history.

Just as this was not our first effort to combat the opioid crisis, you have my word that it will not be our last. We will continue to push forward in the fight against the opioid crisis for families and communities in Oregon and across the country.

To learn more about the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, please click here.

Firefighter Protection Bill Heads to President’s Desk

Across Oregon, we know well the heroic efforts of our firefighters to protect people and property. These first responders experience occupational health risks every day, and in our state it’s often from forest fires that ignite in Oregon each summer. Firefighters deserve to know that we have their backs and are protecting their health when they put themselves in harm’s way for the rest of us.

That’s why I supported the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act as it passed Congress and was sent to the President’s desk last week. This is important public health legislation that will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a voluntary registry to collect data regarding the incidence of cancer in firefighters. This registry will allow researchers to have a greater understanding of the impacts smoke inhalation and other occupational hazards have on a firefighter’s health and lead to better treatment options.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act originated in my Energy and Commerce Committee and passed the House of Representatives unanimously. This bill will go a long way to improve the health of all firefighters, whether they battle structural fires in urban areas or wildfires in the West.

To learn more about this legislation, please click here.

Tax Reform Continues to Deliver for Oregon Small Businesses

It has been over six months since the historic Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, bringing tax relief to middle class families and small business owners in our state. Recently, I met with a local business that is reinvesting in their company and workforce because of tax reform.

Good Life Brewing, a small brewery in Bend, is benefiting from the reduced excise tax on craft brewers that I helped included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Because of this relief, Good Life told me they will save $75,000, which they are using to add to their team and invest in new equipment. This is real relief that small business owners across our district are using to reinvest in their business and our communities. To learn more about what people in Oregon are saying about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, please click here.

Recently at an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing, I highlighted the benefits we’re seeing play out across the country because we have cut taxes, provided relief to Main Street job creators, and are allowing middle class families to keep more of their hard-earned money. To watch my full remarks, please click here.

FCC Chairman’s Visit Focuses on Bridging “Digital Divide” in Eastern Oregon

Just this past weekend, I had the pleasure of welcoming Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to eastern Oregon. Communities in rural Oregon are part of the 39 percent of Americans living in areas who lack sufficient access to high-speed broadband. That is why I asked Chairman Pai to come meet with folks on the ground to learn more about how we can improve connectivity in eastern Oregon.

During the Chairman’s visit, we first met with rural health care providers to talk about how they plan to use the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program. The Rural Health Care Program aims to improve the quality of health care available to patients in rural communities by ensuring they have access to telecommunications and broadband services. Just as I worked to fully fund community health centers in Oregon, the Rural Health Care Program is vital to ensuring these health centers have the resources they need to continue serving our communities.

I also gathered a meeting with sheriffs from across the district to discuss improving the ability of law enforcement and first responders in rural Oregon to carry out their vital emergency service operations. Many of our 911 networks are based on technologies of the past, which is why I’m working with the FCC to bring “Next Generation 911” to rural areas. Next Generation 911 will help modernize our emergency response system by allowing communication via voice, text, or even audio in an emergency. In Congress, I helped secure $115 million in federal funds to help the country transition to Next Generation 911 systems, and I will continue to work to ensure this transition reaches rural Oregon.

Our final meeting in eastern Oregon focused on closing the “digital divide” in rural America. We sat down with community leaders, county commissioners, and elected officials from across our district to learn more about how they’re working at the local level to expand broadband into their communities.

Recently, I helped pass the RAY BAUM’s Act into law. Named for La Grande native Ray Baum, who worked to improve broadband infrastructure in rural areas, this legislation reauthorizes the FCC for the first time in 28 years. Importantly, this legislation updates and streamlines regulatory process for broadband deployment on federal property and improves broadband mapping and identification of communities that need federal funding most. While there is much more work to be done, this law is a big step forward toward connecting rural communities in Oregon with this 21st Century technology.

To read more about our meetings this weekend, please click here.

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It is an honor to represent you in the U.S. Congress.

Best regards,

Greg Walden
U.S. Representative
Oregon’s Second District

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