The Senate Republican majority has made significant progress this year on behalf of the American people. We’ve confirmed numerous executive and judicial branch nominees, rolled back burdensome government regulations, laid important groundwork for the 2018 farm bill, repealed one of the fundamental pillars of Obamacare, and delivered pro-growth tax reform to middle-income South Dakotans.
As the new administration took shape this year, the Senate fulfilled its constitutional role of vetting and confirming nominees, of which 19 nominations, including two cabinet officials and the Federal Communications Commission chairman, came through the Senate Commerce Committee, which I chair.
In April, the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Gorsuch has always been known for his impartiality and commitment to the rule of law. When we were considering his nomination, I said he was the kind of jurist who called balls and strikes when it comes to interpreting the law, and he’s proven that since his confirmation.
The Republican-led Senate set records this year for the number of U.S. circuit court nominees we confirmed. Circuit court judges serve lifetime terms on the bench and are the last stop in the judicial system before the Supreme Court. In December, we confirmed the 12th circuit court judge of 2017 — the most for any president in his first year in office since the creation of circuit courts in 1891.
Throughout the year, we used the Congressional Review Act — which Congress to weigh in on rules and regulations issued by executive branch agencies — to roll back more than one dozen heavy-handed government regulations implemented during the Obama administration.
With the current farm bill expiring next year, I spent much of this year laying the groundwork to ensure the next farm bill is done right and on time.
We had a busy year in the Commerce Committee, too. My Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 and No Human Trafficking on Our Roads Act made it to the president’s desk. The Senate passed more than a half-dozen telecomm bills, including my MOBILE NOW Act, which would increase access to broadband and other cutting-edge technologies. And the committee passed my AV START Act, FAA reauthorization bill, Surface Transportation and Maritime Security Act, and TSA Modernization Act.
We closed 2017 by passing sweeping reforms to the tax code for the first time in more than three decades. They will bring much-needed relief to middle-income South Dakotans. Tax reform will lower tax rates for all Americans and double the standard deduction and the child tax credit. Taxpayers will begin to see the benefits from these reforms in their paychecks early next year.
We also repealed Obamacare’s unpopular individual mandate, which forced Americans to purchase a product they might not want or can’t afford. We finally opened a small portion of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration that will lead to more American jobs and greater energy independence for the United States.
2017 has been a year full of accomplishments, and the Senate Republican majority has a lot to show for it. I’m looking forward to working to build on the progress we made this year as we head into 2018.