Sen. John Thune
The Republican-led Congress had a successful 2017. We confirmed a record number of the president’s nominees to fill circuit court judgeships, and we confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. We used the Congressional Review Act a record number of times to roll back burdensome regulations implemented by the Obama administration. We closed the year by passing historic legislation that reformed our outdated tax code and cut rates for all taxpayers, repealed Obamacare’s unpopular rule that forced Americans to purchase an insurance product they might not want or can’t afford, and opened additional land for domestic energy production.
I hope we can keep that momentum going in 2018, and it starts with finding a responsible solution that funds the federal government through the remainder of the fiscal year. While I’ve never been a fan of the congressional budget process, and I strongly support reforming it so it works more efficiently, it’s important for all Americans, particularly our men and women in uniform, that the government is funded for the long term. My goal is to ensure that it is.
I’m also hopeful that early this year we’ll be able to find a bipartisan solution that strengthens U.S. border security. Our national security depends it, and it’s long overdue. As part of this effort, I expect Congress will address several immigration-related issues, too. In particular, those faced by children who, at no fault of their own, entered the United States illegally. While the previous president acted unilaterally, without congressional buy-in, I’ve always believed this was an area where Congress should be responsible for finding an acceptable long-term solution.
At the Senate Commerce Committee, which I chair, we made significant progress in 2017, and I look forward to continuing our important work on self-driving vehicle technology, expanding access to broadband internet – particularly in rural parts of the country, like South Dakota – and improving transportation security and other infrastructure needs.
Finally, it’s never too early to start working on the next farm bill, as I like to say. The current bill, which I helped write, expires later this year, and it’s important that we complete our work on the next bill on time. That’s why I spent 2017 writing seven individual farm bill proposals that cover multiple portions of the overall bill. I hope that by doing a lot of this work early, we can get a final farm bill to the president before the current one expires.
On New Year’s Day in 1983, President Reagan said, “[L]et us thank God for life and the blessings He’s put before us. High among them are our families, our freedom, and the opportunities of a new year.” I’m looking forward to what 2018 has in store for South Dakotans and the rest of the American people, and I can’t wait to continue my work in Congress on their behalf.