PORT ANGELES — An hour before he voted in the majority Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection,” U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer recalled the violent events of Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol that led to Congress’ historic action.
“It was a pretty awful and dark day,” the Port Angeles native recalled when he opened a mid-day virtual meeting of the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
In a statement, the Gig Harbor Democrat, whose 6th District includes Clallam and Jefferson counties, Kilmer reflected on the magnitude of the 232-197 vote, historic for its impeachment of the same president a second time.
“When the history books write about the failed insurrection of January 6, 2021 that was incited by the president of the United States, there is a threshold question that we must answer,” Kilmer said in the statement.
“What do we want the next paragraph to say? I do not believe that the next paragraph should say that Congress did nothing and that there were no consequences for the riot or the actions that incited it,” he said. “I do not want that next paragraph to say that Congress allowed the president the ability to use the remainder of his term in office to threaten our republic. I do not want the lesson to my kids — or to any Americans — to be that actions like these are acceptable and can happen without consequence.”
The purpose of Kilmer’s talk to area entrepreneurs was to focus on COVID-19 relief, expectations for President-elect Joe Biden’s upcoming term, and National Defense Authorization Act help for the maritime industry, including the Black Ball Ferry Line, said Marc Abshire, chamber executive director.
Kilmer said the act has been funded, that he expects more money to flow to Washingtonians for COVID relief, and he has high hopes for a broad spending package that will fuel infrastructure improvements, including broadband services.
Housing is also a priority, he said.
Kilmer said he will keep his seat on the Committee on Appropriations and will again chair the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress.
He recently visited the Lincoln Memorial, “recognizing this is a really divided time in our country, ” he recalled.
Inscribed there are words from Lincoln’s second inaugural address: “With malice toward none, with charity for all … let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds.”
“I think it’s very clear, and it’s actually quite important, that we acknowledge that we have work to do, each of us, to bind up the wounds of this nation, to heal this country,” Kilmer said.
“That’s kind of an all-of-us challenge,” he continued.
“You know, President Kennedy said, in a democracy, each of us holds office, so it depends on each of us to determine what direction our country takes, whether it trends more toward division or more toward unity, whether it trends towards greater inequality or whether it trends to greater opportunity for everybody, and I hope you have a sense of the direction I have taken and will continue to take as your representative, and I ask your partnership in that.”
Email abshire at [email protected] for a link to Kilmer’s 40-minute presentation.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].