April 23, 2013
WASHINGTON D.C. – Scheduling a meeting with a federal elected official is difficult. Scheduling meetings with more than five federal elected officials is even more difficult. A group of 40 Spokane and Northern Idaho civic leaders accomplished the latter as the annual Greater Spokane Incorporated (GSI) “D.C. Fly-in” kicks off Wednesday and continues through Friday morning.
The group is here to advocate for Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho, and sending 40 area leaders signals to lawmakers that the Spokane and Northern Idaho regions are focused and unified.
The group has meetings scheduled Wednesday with Senators Patty Murray, Maria Cantwell, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. It also has meetings with Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Raul Labrador. All of those meetings are designed for the lawmakers to hear from their constituents and for the group to advocate for the region.
The main topics and projects to be discussed this week include Fairchild Air Force Base; transportation projects like the North Spokane Corridor, Interstate 90 and the Inland Pacific Hub (a group of transportation projects in Eastern Washington and Northern Idaho); and Graduate Medical Education (GME) at the Riverpoint Campus in Spokane.
Fairchild Air Force Base is among the final four bases being considered to be the first base to receive the new KC-46A tankers later this decade. The U.S. Air Force is expected to announce its decision on May 1. A small group will meet with Air Force Officials on Thursday.
Transportation projects will take center stage when a small group meets with Victor Mendez, the Administrator for the Federal Highway Administration on Thursday. The North Spokane Corridor has been the main topic for a number of years during GSI’s D.C. Fly-in, though this year the corridor is grouped with other transportation projects called the aforementioned Inland Pacific Hub.
The Hub is a collaboration of common transportation projects in the Spokane area and Northern Idaho that would strengthen domestic and international commerce. The projects include the North Spokane Corridor, expansion of U.S. 95 toward Canada, improvements along U.S. 195 between Lewiston, Idaho and Spokane, widening I-90 through Spokane and Kootenai counties, and more.