Reichert, McMorris Ready For Life In "Other" Washingtonby Staff
KIRO TV, November 21, 2004
Washington D.C. -- For Rep.-elect Dave Reichert, it was a once-in-a-lifetime thrill.
On the second day of a weeklong orientation to the "other" Washington, the 8th District Republican had lunch at the White House -- and found himself sitting at the same table as President Bush.
The two men chatted like old friends, as Bush complimented Reichert on a "great win" against Democrat Dave Ross, holding a Seattle area seat held for the last 12 years by GOP Rep. Jennifer Dunn.
Reichert, 54, of Auburn, became emotional as he described the event, one of dozens organized last week to help newly elected members of Congress acclimate themselves to the capital, hire staff and find a place to live.
"I am one of seven children; my father is one of 13 children. We kind of struggled financially while I was growing up in Washington, so to be here and have this opportunity is exciting and it is humbling really," Reichert said. "I never thought it would happen."
Asked if his first term had already peaked before it began, Reichert laughed.
"I'm not naive enough to believe I might be having lunch with the president every week," he said.
Rep.-elect Cathy McMorris of the 5th District also attended the White House lunch. She said she was impressed by how well the 37 new House members were treated during the orientation.
"I've been told that will change," she added.
McMorris, 35, of Colville, was elected to replace Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Wash., who represented the Eastern Washington district for a decade before losing a bid for U.S. Senate.
McMorris, a longtime state representative, said the biggest difference between Washington and Olympia -- so far, at least -- is "how much you have to walk" to get from one event or meeting to another.
"Nothing is convenient," she said.
McMorris, who has already hired a chief of staff and is collecting resumes for other positions, said she also was amazed at "how quickly your day is filled up and gone. There's so much to do."
Reichert, the King County sheriff, agreed, comparing the orientation to drinking water from a fire hose.
Reichert, well known as the man who tracked down Gary Ridgway, the Green River serial killer, said he will seek a seat on the Homeland Security, Transportation and Science committees. Homeland security fits in with his law enforcement background, Reichert said, and transportation is a key issue in the burgeoning Eastside suburbs. Science also fits in because of the region's emphasis on technology.
McMorris, the state House Republican leader, said she will seek seats on Resources, Agriculture and Armed Services. She has pledged to preserve the four lower Snake River dams in Eastern Washington, saying they provide crucial power to the region. Environmentalists criticize the dams as a threat to salmon.
McMorris also said she will seek to revise the Endangered Species Act to consider its effect on business and will seek to implement a new law on forestry. Agriculture and the military are two of the largest employers in the rural, Spokane-based district.
McMorris, who is single, said she hopes to rent an apartment near the Capitol, but will keep her home in Colville. Reichert, married with three grown children, said he and his wife, Julie, also will look for a place close to the Capitol.
The two Republicans said they expect to have good relations with the state's Democrat-dominated delegation, which includes six Democrats in the House and two Democratic senators. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., is the only other Republican.
Several Democrats, including Rep. Norm Dicks and Sen. Patty Murray, have already reached out, and the two freshmen expect to talk to most or all of their colleagues before Congress convenes in January.
"I want to build a good relationship with the Washington delegation," McMorris said. "I'm someone who's really tried as a state representative to work with all sides of the state, and I think I can do it here too."
Reichert was equally upbeat.
"For the most part people are here to do the right thing," he said. "Their hearts are in the right place; they just come from different perspectives and points of view. We just have to respect that and come to a consensus."
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