YAKIMA -- U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse is hopeful that a public-lands bill that includes Yakima Basin water projects will pass.
But Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, told Yakima County Republican Women Thursday that he plans to be back in Washington, D.C., Monday for the debate on the bills in the House.
“I don’t want to leave anything to chance,” Newhouse said.
The measure, which includes 110 pieces of legislation supporting land and conservation projects nationally, passed the Senate last week.
It also includes support for a water storage project at Lake Kachess that would help Yakima Valley growers, provides $75 million in improvements to the Wapato Irrigation District and fish passage through the basin.
The projects are part of the Yakima River Basin Integrated Water Management Plan, a 30-year plan worked out by federal, tribal, state and local officials and growers.
“The working group that has been engaged in this for 10 years is being looked at by the rest of the country as a model for how we can move forward on projects,” Newhouse said at the luncheon at the Howard Johnson Plaza.
“You, congressman, are being very modest about the water bill,” Yakima County Commissioner Ron Anderson told Newhouse. “You were a sponsor of that.”
Newhouse also said he supported President Trump’s efforts to build a wall on the southern border.
Trump recently declared a national emergency to get the $5 billion he said was needed to finish the wall. While Newhouse said the order raises questions as to whether a president can override Congress’ constitutional mandate to disburse funds, he said he would leave that question to the courts rather than a resolution congressional Democrats are drafting.
Newhouse, during his visit to Yakima, also toured the former Marine Corps Reserve Armory near Tahoma Cemetery, which will be renovated to provide housing and services for homeless veterans, and met with Yakima Neighborhood Health and others to discuss homeless issues in the area.
Lowel Krueger, executive director of the Yakima Housing Authority, said work is expected to begin in June to provide 41 units of housing through a combination of studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as space for clinics and services for veterans.
Krueger said the housing authority could use Newhouse’s help in getting the Department of Veterans Affairs’ case managers to refer veterans who need assistance. He said the VA office in Walla Walla has not been able to commit to helping due to staffing.
Newhouse, who supports the project, said he would work with the VA to further the project.
Rhonda Hauff, chief operating officer of Neighborhood Health, said 60 of the 300 veterans who were treated at Neighborhood Health last year were homeless.