Greg Walden believes seniority, familiarity count in the capital

Rep. Greg Walden speaks to constituents January 11, 2013 at the Hood River Valley Adult Center.

Photo by Kirby Neumann-Rea.
Rep. Greg Walden speaks to constituents January 11, 2013 at the Hood River Valley Adult Center.

Greg Walden is seeking his ninth term in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing eastern Oregon in the 2nd Congressional District.

The Hood River Republican’s foe in the primary is Dennis B. Linthicum of Beatty in Klamath County. His first primary challenger since 2006, Walden questioned Linthicum’s stands describing Social Security and Medicare as unconstitutional, and the strict constitutionalist’s interest in seeing U.S. Senators appointed, rather than elected, as the Constitution originally prescribed.

Longevity and experience give a congressman some advantages in serving his constituents, Walden said, in a recent interview.

“I think this district is so big and there are so many individual sets of issues that you can begin to have a much stronger grasp of people and problems in each location,” he said. He cited his experience dealing with issues like the Fort Dalles Readiness Center, which took years accomplish.

Gaining seniority in the House and familiarity with its party leaders is also a good thing, Walden said.

“It allows you a little more throw weight when you want to get things done,” he said.

Despite public perception of polarity within Congress, Walden said successful legislation involves working across party lines.

“The forestry bill is an example of that,” Walden said. “Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrader and I worked for three-and-a-half years to develop bipartisan forestry legislation. That’s about as hot a topic as you can get in Oregon. It passed last September.

“We got the bill done and it will keep the coastal counties from going insolvent, and generate 3,000 jobs and $100 million in revenue.”

Other bipartisan bills he has played a role in include an Internet freedom bill, one on reporting and one on Bowman Dam in Prineville.

“There are ways to work the process to get things done,” he said. “Also there are philosophical differences between liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats that you’re never going to breach. If you do, you have something called a dictatorship.”

One of the challenges that Walden said affects perception of the conflict is electronically dispersed rhetoric.

“It makes governing more difficult,” he said. “Literally every word I utter now can go global — and does on occasion. Even if [the quotes] aren’t accurate. I’m amazed at the inaccurate information out there.”

Walden touched on a number of issues relevant to his constituency:

Farm Bill: “We got some reforms and we got some costs down,” he said. He cited importance of research funded by the bill, especially on issues of food and water safety, and the looming possibility of a sage grouse listing. “If we don’t stay ahead of the listing, it can make the spotted owl look like child’s play.”

Hanford: “We have to continue to be very vigilant to be sure the cleanup continues to progress,” he said. Oregon remains at the table, along with Washington, because of the risk to populations in both states. “Cleanup is proceeding pretty much according to plan but, clearly, we’ve got to make sure the containers don’t leak, either.”

Yucca Mountain: “The administration unilaterally and probably illegally put a stop to any future consideration of it,” Walden said. “The issue is in the courts right now … We need to secure a national repository. Absent that, you’re storing all this nuclear waste at individual locations across the country. You are better served with a common location with appropriate security.”

Hazardous material shipping through the Columbia Gorge: Walden suspects more hazardous waste is shipped through the gorge than the oil shipments that have been the topic of a recent Oregonian series. “We’ve got to make sure the rail cars are safe, appropriate spill cleanup mechanisms are in place and first-responders know what to do,” he said. He said the current discussion is tied into the debate over climate change. However, he questioned the advisability of publicly posting identifying materials shipped through the gorge because of threat of terrorism.

Running the Republican House campaign: “I’m trying to recruit and elect people who, when they get to Washington know that they are supposed to govern. That’s not always easy. It’s easy to throw rocks, especially when you’re in the minority. But when you catch the bus, you’re supposed to drive the bus.”

Walden said he has worked to improve legislative processes, including publishing bills three calendar days before a vote, more open rules, hold floor votes only after 1 p.m. most days so they won’t interrupt committee meetings, and implementing bipartisan work groups for “deep dives” into issues.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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