It’s hard to believe we’re already at the end of 2017. January started with the inauguration of President Trump, ushering in a new era focused on making America great again.
In the year that was to follow, the U.S. House of Representatives passed more than 460 bills – far surpassing recent averages. More than 90 of them have made it through the Senate and earned President Trump’s signature to become law. Among these were a series of bills that repealed costly Obama-era regulations. One empowered states to defund Planned Parenthood. Another strengthened Second Amendment protections for those with disabilities. Yet another expanded whistleblower protections within the Department of Veterans Affairs.
In October, the President signed a bill I wrote, which would increase and strengthen women’s participation in peace negotiations and conflict prevention. When America’s security depends on the success of peace negotiations, we must make sure every proven conflict prevention tactic is on the table. This will help us do that.
In addition to what’s already reached President Trump’s desk, the House has passed a series of bills to crack down on sanctuary cities and illegal immigration as well as legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. A bill to improve rural call quality was approved, as was legislation that, if enacted, would ensure those permitted to carry a concealed handgun would be able to bring it to other states that permit concealed carry.
The House-passed Working Families Flexibility Act would allow employers to give workers more flexibility in choosing between overtime pay and additional time off – a choice that’s difficult to offer under existing labor laws. The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that we passed would ban abortion after 20 weeks. And the bipartisan Resilient Federal Forests Act would pair a responsible budget fix with forest management reforms to dramatically improve the health and resiliency of our forests.
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We also passed the CUFF Act, which I introduced, that would make sure wanted felons and parole violators would no longer have access to certain Social Security benefits. Another bill I introduced that would expand the Black Hills National Cemetery outside Sturgis also passed the House. I’m hopeful the Senate will take up and pass these bills in the New Year.
Tax reform has also steadily advanced throughout this time, as we’ve remained committed to providing families with relief in the New Year.
But more work remains – particularly when it comes to the Farm Bill. This last summer, I joined the House Agriculture Committee in a field hearing to discuss the modifications that will be needed. We received a lot of good feedback. Additionally, I’ve introduced a series of reforms I’d like to see included, such as legislation to improve the wetland determinations process, better ensure fair CRP rental payments, and expand sodsaver provisions nationwide. I’ve also put forward a bill to permanently allow the hay harvested on certain CRP acres to be donated to ranchers suffering from drought or fire.
In addition, I am pushing legislation that would prohibit the IRS from rehiring an employee who has been fired for certain forms of misconduct (yes, it’s ridiculous we have to pass legislation to do this). Reforms to the Indian Health Service as well as legislation to crack down on sex trafficking and the websites that often facilitate it are also top priorities.
Without question, the last 12 months have made for quite a year, but with the momentum in our direction, I’m excited for what 2018 will bring.