Derek Kilmer currently serves as United States Representative for the residents of Washington’s 6th Congressional District.
From the private sector, to the Washington state Capitol, and now the House of Representatives, Derek has remained focused on the best ways to keep the region’s economy moving forward, strengthen the middle class, defend our troops and veterans, give our children a quality education, meet our commitment to seniors, and protect the region’s rich natural heritage.
Derek has been identified as one of the most effective members of the U.S. House. An article in the Washington Post named him as one of the five Democrats in Congress most able to pass significant legislation to benefit their constituents. Derek currently serves on the House Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Subcommittees on Interior & Environment, Defense, and Energy & Water.
Derek works to ensure America remains committed to service members and their families. Derek has also encouraged the military to make key investments that support Naval Base Kitsap, that enhance the capacities of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, and that grow businesses and jobs. For his work in support of military families, he received the U.S Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, the highest honor a civilian not employed by the Navy can receive from the Secretary of the Navy.
Derek has also been a leading voice on behalf of America’s veterans. He has championed improvements within the Veterans Administration and worked to create economic opportunities for veterans and their families. For his efforts, the national veterans group AMVETS awarded Derek their Silver Helmet Award, given to a member of Congress whose work to support and create opportunities for veterans stands out.
Derek is the co-founder of the Congressional Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, a group of representatives focused on the restoration of Puget Sound. He has been a leader in the effort to combat climate change and ocean acidification. Derek is part of the Climate Solutions Caucus and has introduced legislation to address changes in the ocean’s chemistry (known as ocean acidification) which threaten the region’s shellfish industry and fisheries. Derek has also been active in supporting our national parks and sponsored a bill to reduce the maintenance backlog in our park system. For that work, Derek received the National Park Heritage Award from the National Parks Conservation Association.
Derek has introduced legislation to help small businesses and to support working families. Derek has received the Heroes of Main Street award from the National Retail Foundation and the Spirit of Enterprise Award from the US Chamber of Commerce. Derek received the Friends of SPEEA Award for his work to increase the federal minimum wage, expand family and medical leave, enhance the rights of working people, and protect the federal workforce.
Born and raised on the Olympic Peninsula, the son of two school teachers, Derek saw firsthand how economic struggles impact working families and their communities. Motivated by the challenges that faced his hometown, Derek focused his studies on economic development, earning a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University’s School of Public & International Affairs and a doctoral degree from the University of Oxford in England.
Derek started his career as a business consultant for McKinsey & Company, assisting Washington state businesses, non-profits, and government agencies efforts to run more efficiently.
Following his time at McKinsey, Derek went to work for the Economic Development Board (EDB) for Tacoma-Pierce County. In the decade he worked for the EDB, he served as Business Retention Manager and then as Vice President, working closely with hundreds of local small business owners and helping them create thousands of jobs.
Having worked in business and economic development, Derek gained an appreciation for the ways in which government impacts the ability of private sector companies to succeed and grow. Derek was elected to serve in the Washington state House in 2004 and to the state Senate in 2006. As the Senate’s lead capital budget writer, he helped craft a bipartisan proposal to target long-term economic growth, investing $1 billion in infrastructure statewide and directly creating 18,000 jobs. He also led a successful bipartisan effort in the Washington state Senate to balance the budget and reduce state debt.
Because of his time in the private sector and at the state capitol, Derek recognizes that if we’re going to truly confront our nation’s challenges, we need to work across party lines to find enduring and successful solutions. That is why he serves as co-chair of the Bipartisan Working Group, consisting of Democrats and Republicans committed to putting aside partisan bickering and focusing, instead, on making progress for the country. For his efforts, Derek received the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Legislative Action Award which recognizes “members with the unique capacity to identify common interests and get things done.” He also serves as the Chair of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress, a new committee focused on reforms to make Congress work better for the American people.
As our representative, Derek has also received the Outstanding New Member Award from the Voices for National Service and was named a Humane Champion by the Humane Society.
Derek and his wife Jennifer live in Gig Harbor with their two kids and their Australian Shepard Truman.
Representative Kilmer believes that in the land and the free and the home of the brave, everyone deserves to be treated equally. That’s why he supports equal rights for married couples, regardless of who they love. He’s also working to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act to close the wage gap between men and women. Kilmer has also advocated for policies that ensure everyone has equal access to the ballot box so they can exercise one of their fundamental rights as an American citizen.
As the son of two retired school teachers and the father of two daughters, Representative Kilmer strongly believes that every student should have access to outstanding educational opportunities. In the 21st century, Kilmer is a champion for affordable higher education to help prepare Americans for the jobs of the future. He’s also an advocate for encouraging more women and minorities to pursue careers in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) while ensuring that educators are treated like the professionals they are.
Kilmer believes in protecting our planet for future generations like his daughters. That’s why he established the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, that he co-chairs with his colleage, Representative Marilyn Strickland, to help this national body of water by preventing pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and re-opening shellfish beds. Kilmer is also pushing for a bipartisan solution to solve the problem of ocean acidification and a key supporter of the National Park system. He’s also calling for solutions to climate change that can unleash new opportunities for jobs and growth in the private sector.
Representative Kilmer believes strongly Congress should answer to the views of their constituents – “We the People” – instead of special interests. That’s why Kilmer is a champion of campaign finance reform and continues to push for legislation that would improve transparency, create publicly financed elections, and fix the commission charged with enforcing federal election laws. Kilmer is also focused on finding common sense, practical solutions to problems and is a member of the Bipartisan Working Group that brings together Democrats and Republicans to forge greater consensus on a wide variety of issues.
Representative Kilmer knows firsthand that the region’s healthcare system serves a diverse population with unique needs. He’s sought to build on the progress the Affordable Care Act in extending insurance to those in need by working across the aisle to make improvement that will help doctors, hospitals, employers, and patients. Kilmer is focused on filling the shortage of physicians in the region by providing more investments for graduate medical school residency positions while encouraging students to stay and serve in high-need regions across our country.
INNOVATION & SMALL BUSINESS
As a member of the New Democrat coalition, Representative Kilmer is working to strengthen investments in research and development to make sure America stays one step ahead of its competitors and the next big thing happens here, not somewhere else. He’s also worked to ensure that small business owners have the tools they need to support growth and create jobs. He kept the lights on when two Small Business Development Centers were expected to close and was part of a successful effort to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, a key way to help entrepreneurs sell made for America goods in new markets.
JOBS & THE ECONOMY
As someone who spent a decade in economic development, Representative Kilmer is working to create opportunity for everyone. He’s championed policies that encourage manufacturers to invest on American shores while fighting to ensure that American jobs don’t move to another country. Representative Kilmer is also bringing together stakeholders on the Olympic Peninsula to work together and create a more vibrant economy. As a member of Congress he’s also pushing to revamp our tax code so it provides greater certainty to individuals and businesses.
Representative Kilmer knows firsthand how important it is to protect two of the most successful public policy programs in American history – Medicare and Social Security. For years they allowed his late grandmother to live with dignity and he’s working to keep the programs strong so our safety net stays intact and America keeps its promise to take care of older Americans.
SUPPORTING INDIAN COUNTRY
Washington’s 6th district is home to 11 federally recognized tribes, so Representative Kilmer understands how important it is for the federal government to fulfill its treaty and trust responsibilities and fully respect its unique government-to-government relationship with every sovereign tribal nation. He also recognizes the new challenges posed by climate change to the tribal communities who have lived along Washington’s coast since time immemorial. That’s why he’s fought for federal reforms to support tribal sovereignty and to provide resources to tribal governments to protect their communities and sacred sites from the impacts of climate change.
VETERANS & DEFENSE
Representative Kilmer strongly believes that our nation owes a debt of gratitude to those who put their lives on the line to defend our freedom. That means assisting them as they transition into the civilian workforce, fighting to make sure they secure the benefits they have earned, and working to put a roof over the head of every veteran. Kilmer is also committed to ensuring the security of the United States and its allies, promoting America’s military, economic, and moral leadership around the world, supporting our servicemembers and civilian workforce, and enhancing regional economic opportunities through technological innovation.