By Sen. John Thune
I can’t think of another period of time while I’ve served in Congress when we’ve been able to put so many points on the scoreboard for the American people. Over the last year and a half alone, despite the historic levels of obstruction we’ve faced from my Democrat colleagues in the Senate, Republicans have achieved numerous legislative accomplishments that will have a positive and lasting effect on the country for generations to come. From tax reform to regulatory reform to reshaping the judiciary, the Republican-led Congress has made the American people’s priorities its priorities.
On tax reform – promise made, promise delivered. In just the handful of months since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law, more than 1 million jobs have been created. It’s an important milestone that fulfills a promise Republicans made to the American people when we debated the bill in Congress, and it’s welcome news for American workers.
More than 500 companies, including several here in South Dakota, have already passed tax savings on to their customers and employees in the form of pay raises, bonuses, and utility rate reductions. Today, the unemployment rate matches a near five-decade low, and for the first time ever, there are more job openings than there are job seekers in the United States. We’re still in the early stages of this new law, though, and while there’s plenty of good news to share, there’s more yet to come.
The Republican-led Congress devoted a significant amount of time to rolling back burdensome Obama-era regulations that were hamstringing growth and opportunity. We used a congressional oversight process that, up until last year, had only been successfully used one time in history. That process, the Congressional Review Act, gives Congress the ability to undo regulations that were implemented by the executive branch. We didn’t use it just once, twice, or even 10 times. We used it a record-setting 16 times. As a result, we provided much-needed relief to businesses and consumers across the country.
While Senate Democrats have done everything they can to delay and obstruct the president’s nominees to the executive and judicial branches, we’ve continued to plow ahead, threatening to keep the Senate in session around the clock or over the weekend, if that’s what it takes. Despite the obstruction, in 2017, the Senate set a record for confirming circuit court judges. Today, one-in-eight of all circuit court judges in the United States have been nominated by President Trump and confirmed by this Senate.
We also confirmed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, passed multiple bills to help our veterans, strengthened our military with the greatest investment in 15 years (plus the largest troop pay increase in nearly a decade), combatted opioid abuse, enacted the longest State Children’s Health Insurance Program extension in history, fought sex traffickers, and repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate – the cornerstone of the failed health care law – just to name a few.
We’ve accomplished a lot of big things over the last 18 months, but there’s more work to do, including getting a pro-farmer, pro-agriculture farm bill to the president as soon as possible. I look forward to delivering more positive results like these for South Dakotans and the American people in 2018 and beyond.