Editor’s Note: On Friday, June 24th and Saturday, June 25th, the Washington State Democratic Party held its 2022 convention in the City of Destiny at the Greater Tacoma Convention Center. The staff of the Northwest Progressive Institute traveled to Tacoma to speak with party leaders and elected officials about the work they’re doing in advance of the midterm elections.
This is one of those Convention Conversations, featuring United States Representative Kim Schrier, D‑Washington. Press play below to listen to the audio, or read the transcript below. You can use the link in this paragraph to access the other installments that we recorded from the convention hall.
Listen to the conversation
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Read the transcript
Note: Transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.
CAYA BERNDT: Welcome to Convention Conversations, a special limited podcast series from the Northwest Progressive Institute recorded live from the 2022 Washington State Democratic Convention in Tacoma. I’m your host, Caya Berndt; we’re glad to have you with us! For this installment, we are honored to be joined by United States Representative Kim Schrier, who represents the 8th Congressional District and is seeking a third term in Congress.
Welcome, Representative Schrier!
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: Thank you, Caya. It’s great to be here.
CAYA BERNDT: First question that I have for you — just a question that I’ve been asking everybody today — is that the Top Two election is just a few weeks away. Ballots are being dropped any minute to voters.
Tell me, how is your campaign going?
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: Well, the campaign’s going great. I am very clear.: I that this is gonna be a tough election and tough year. But I am so excited. We’ve got a ton of volunteers, knocking doors, making phone calls, and I’m excited to communicate to the 8th District and parts of the state that were not in the 8th District [before redistricting] about what I’ve been up to and how I can help.
CAYA BERNDT: What are your priorities for the next two years, should you be reelected? What would you most like to accomplish?
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: Well, I think you can tell my priorities for the next two years by looking at some of the things that I’ve been working on already and really making it a priority to work with both parties to deliver for the district.
And this includes everything from an infrastructure bill that is bringing salmon passage to Howard Hansen dam and a safer intersection of Highway 18 and Interstate 90 to working to bring down the cost of insulin and make people’s lives a little better. I’m excited about what I’ve been able to do so far. We just passed a gas gouging bill to make sure that people are not taken advantage of by Big Oil. I’m doing everything I can to make people’s lives a little easier when prices are high right now.
CAYA BERNDT: That flows nicely into my next question. You did mention the consumer fuel price gouging prevention act that you sponsored. There’s been a couple of other bills that the house has passed to address the cost of living, [like] the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act, which many people may not be as familiar with because they haven’t received a lot of media coverage. Can you summarize what these bills do and how they could help Americans who are grappling with rising prices?
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: Absolutely. I think fundamentally what people need to know is, we get that everybody’s hurting right now. We feel it at the gas station and we feel it at the grocery store. I mean, everything is more expensive right now. And so I’ve really taken this on to see what I can do to make life a little easier for people. And one of the ways is the consumer price gouging protection act, which basically says in a fuel emergency, it allows the FEC to crack down on oil companies that are price gouging. And you know, all you need to do is look at a couple numbers to know that something fishy is going on. Right?
When we are paying record prices that gas pump and gas and oil companies are making record profits — like higher than the last ten years kind of profits — and returning that to their shareholders.
They’re doing stock buybacks rather than giving us some relief of the pump. I think we need to have some pressure on them to make our lives easier.
And then, the Fuel and Food Act: This allows things like ethanol 15, which is cheaper than premium gas. It also helps farmers who are paying high prices for fertilizer right now. And it helps meat producers who are paying a very high cost for processing, but not really getting any reward financially themselves.
CAYA BERNDT: Thank you. Yesterday, the Supreme court overturned Roe v. Wade. Can you summarize what House Democrats are doing to defend Americans’ reproductive rights right now?
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: Yep. First let me just say that I am absolutely furious that they just overturned fifty years of precedent. That they took away a right that women have lived with and become accustomed to, and really internalized for the, for the past half a century.
And, you know what this means for women in half the states in this country is that they will not have access to abortion unless they are wealthy enough to be able to fly to another state or drive to another state and have it done there.
This is a common procedure that one out of four women under forty-five has done. And to make this inaccessible is… I mean, it’s just infuriating to me. It takes away a woman’s ability to control her own life and destiny, and to choose when and if to have a child.
That said, let me tell you some of the things that we’ve already done, we passed the women’s health protection act, which essentially makes row the law of the land.
Unfortunately, none of the Republicans in the Senate — and two Democrats in the Senate — did not support that bill. And so we will continue to try again and we need bigger majorities. And so if you’re wondering what Democrats will do, give us bigger majorities and we will show you.
CAYA BERNDT: Okay, thank you. And moving on to voting rights: Are there any actions Congress could take through the budgeting process, also known as reconciliation, to shore up voting rights, which are under attack in Republican controlled states?
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: I have not heard any suggestions about using reconciliation specifically to work on voting rights. Joe Manchin is essentially the keeper of all secrets reconciliation right now. But I could imagine being able to use that in a budgetary way… reconciliation is tied to budgets, but if you said you could put a certain number of dollars toward helping states do mail and ballots, those kinds of things you possibly could use it. I have to say, I have not heard this [idea] yet, but I will take it back to Congress and ask.
CAYA BERNDT: And then, just one more quick question for you is that in the current Congress, one of your areas of focus has been critical infrastructure, especially access to clean drinking water. So can you talk about the legislation you’ve been developing to enable local governments to invest in pipes, irrigation, facilities, and treatment plants needed for Washington’s farms, families, and businesses thrive?
REPRESENTATIVE SCHRIER: Yes, this is, this is called WIFIA [Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act]. That’s the short name for the water infrastructure funding [bill]. And the idea here is that, you know, when [we] embark on a big infrastructure project, especially if it involves water, [or] wastewater treatment, it is a very costly endeavor, and the ability to finance that upfront and pay that off over fifty-five years instead of thirty makes all the difference in the world on whether a community can afford to do this.
And so these are projects that will conserve water that will make sure we have clean drinking water, and that we’ll do waste water treatment all with the ability to finance them.
CAYA BERNDT: Representative Schrier, it’s great to be able to catch up with you. Thanks for taking the time to talk with us about your campaign. If you enjoyed this podcast, we invite you to check out our other Convention Conversations.
For NPI, I’m Caya Berndt. Take care!