Larsen outlines goals for Blaine in fifth Congressional run
By Meg Olson
U.S. Representative Rick Larsen was in Blaine briefly last week as part of a schedule that was running at campaign speed.
“I’m very energized this year,” Larsen said following the May 29 groundbreaking for Blaine’s new wastewater facility, with a handful more stops to make before an evening campaign kickoff in Bellingham.
“This is going to be a very exciting year and we’re going to have a very vigorous debate nationally about the future of our country.”
Larsen is running for his fifth term as a member of Congress, representing the second congressional district since he was first elected in 2000.
Serving on the house committees for transportation and infrastructure, armed services, and small business, Larsen cites work making healthcare more accessible for veterans and improving product safety as some of the successes of his last term.
“It’s now in the budget – 13 Food and Drug Administration personnel in China to inspect and audit products,” he said.
From the border and down the freeway, Larsen said he will continue to focus on securing federal funding for better mobility in the region. Congress will rewrite the national transportation bill next year, reauthorizing spending through 2014.
“It will be a major investment in our communities,” Larsen said. The last version of the bill brought $52 million to the 2nd congressional district, but most of that went to Snohomish County.
“In Whatcom County $9.8 million went to the Port of Bellingham redevelopment and $3 million came to Blaine for improvements to the truck crossing and state route 543.
“Now that Everett’s done we need to look at those portions around Mount Vernon to the border,” Larsen said.
He is planning visits to local communities to look at transportation needs in the face of rising gas prices, as well as to handle special circumstances such as the upcoming 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“Between roads and transit and rail I’d expect in Whatcom County we can address these needs by finding the best package of improvements,” he said.
Larsen said he will continue to put pressure on the General Services Administration to get the new border facility up and running before the Olympics.
“It’s important they stay committed to having ten operational booths,” he said.
Customs and Border Protection managers have assured him the new facility will have enough staffing to keep those booths open. “Staffing will be steadily increasing overtime so they have the flexibility to staff booths as needed,” he said.
As another piece of the puzzle to improve cross-border mobility, Larsen said he and staff will continue to try and address the steady stream of complaints about the NEXUS trusted traveler program that come into his office, from the lack of an appeals process to the program’s rigid zero-tolerance policy and lack of clear rules.
“Trying to find the right veil to lift at the department of homeland security about NEXUS is almost impossible,” Larsen said.
“When I find that veil it’ll be ripped off.”