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'A Story of Shocking Function' - Derek Kilmer Works to Fix Congress

Ten years ago, then-state legislator Derek Kilmer considered running for Congress to replace the retiring Norm Dicks (D-6th), but he had some reservations. "I was conscious that if I was successful, I was signing up for a 3,000-mile commute and my kids were 3 and 6," Kilmer said. "The other con was that I was going to Congress, and I was kind of repelled by it.

"Then I thought maybe that's the reason to do it. Because it's a mess and because I have kids and I don't want their future affected by a completely messed up federal government."

He won the race. "When I get on the plane, I write an email to my daughters about what I will be doing that week and why it matters to their future," Kilmer said. The work he has done over the last four years as chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress has given him much to write about.

In 2018 Kilmer got a call from then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to ask if he would chair the new committee. "I don't know if she considered anybody else," Kilmer said. "She knew I was interested in strengthening Congress and making it work better, and I'm sort of a process nerd. It was a nice vote of confidence."

Although the track record for committees to reform Congress in the past was dismal, he took up the challenge. "Like most Americans, I had the sense that Congress had been punching below its weight for a long time."

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