Over the past three years, many have heard me talk about what we want our country to look like in 2026, the year we celebrate America’s 250th birthday. We must get away from the centralized, overregulated system of government that has stifled economic growth. In the past year, we’ve made great strides in getting back on track to a freer, less intrusive government.

Just before Christmas, President Trump signed tax relief legislation into law, the first major overhaul of our tax code in more than 30 years. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which takes effect immediately, will lead to more jobs and bigger paychecks for hardworking families. Additionally, lowering the corporate tax rate for American businesses will put them on a level playing field with the rest of the world and allow them to be more competitive in the global marketplace, keeping jobs and income here at home.

In 2017, we were able to undo 15 Obama-era regulations under the Congressional Review Act, saving taxpayers $36 billion and more than 4 million hours of paperwork. The Trump administration has also withdrawn or reconsidered close to 900 ineffective and duplicative regulations. Some of these regulations include the Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule, the Clean Power Plan, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) power grab rule and retirement plan rules. Each of these ‘Washington-knows-best’ rules would have led to more paperwork, more government intrusion and less freedom for the American people.

In the Senate Banking Committee, we made progress on legislation to provide relief to our financial institutions. Our bill, which includes six provisions I offered, will improve our nation’s financial regulatory framework by rolling back some of Dodd-Frank’s one-size-fits-all regulations. In doing so, our bill will help assure that South Dakota families and businesses have access to credit when they need it. This is critical as we work to grow a healthy American economy.

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Our armed forces also received a boost. After years of underfunding, our military received additional resources for the second year in a row, allowing military leaders to take necessary steps to regain the required level of readiness. I’m also pleased to report that the National Defense Authorization Act, the annual bill that specifies where funds should be spent, included eight of my provisions that will help our armed forces accomplish their missions and take care of our troops and their families.

We are just eight years away from our 250th birthday. In 2017, we made significant steps toward a freer, less intrusive government that will help keep us safe and grow our economy. We will continue to work on the important issues that will shape our birthday celebration in 2026 and provide a stronger, healthier economy that we can pass onto future generations.

Mike Rounds represents South Dakota in the U.S. Senate.

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