Weekly Column: Roadmap For Progress--Bipartisan Work Of This Congress
Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Bipartisan legislative achievements often get lost in the din of partisan rhetoric. But, the bipartisan accomplishments of the 115th Congress and this Administration are representative of how we can work together in the 116th Congress ahead to make further progress for our country. The following are some highlights as the 115th Congress draws to a close:
Economic Reform—As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, I worked with the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to enact bipartisan legislation that right-sizes regulation to make it easier for smaller financial institutions to provide services to working families while maintaining and increasing important consumer protections.
Veterans Services Reforms—In June, Congress overwhelmingly passed and the President signed into law improvements, including some I authored, that will help make navigating health care options both inside and outside the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs more straightforward for veterans. Late last year, a law was enacted that improves access to veterans’ educational benefits. In July, I introduced legislation to improve the federal program that helps servicemembers transition from military service back to civilian life.
Energy—I led with Senators Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) and James Risch (R-Idaho) the enactment of a law to bring together the technical expertise of the National Labs and the U.S. Department of Energy to enable the construction and testing of experimental nuclear reactors. This law compliments bipartisan work on two other bills to bolster nuclear innovation: 1) legislation to modernize the licensing of advanced reactors; and 2) legislation to help launch robust public-private partnerships to enable the U.S. to be an early adopter of new, tested nuclear technologies.
Wildfire Suppression—In the coming years, federal agencies will be able to respond to wildfires as they would other natural disasters through a bipartisan law I worked with Senators Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and James Risch to enact to end fire borrowing and better ensure access to resources necessary to keep forests healthy, protect watersheds and reduce catastrophic wildfire.
Sanctions—As Chairman of the Banking Committee, I worked on bipartisan legislation to strengthen sanctions against Russia. The Senate passed our legislation by an overwhelmingly, bipartisan vote of 97-2 demonstrating commitment to the sanctity of territorial integrity, human rights, and good governance, and resolve in responding to cyberattacks.
Farm Bill—Congress passed the final 2018 Farm Bill by overwhelmingly, bipartisan votes to maintain support for American agricultural production.
Opioids—This fall, legislation was enacted, with overwhelmingly, bipartisan support, that would provide comprehensive support for the fight against opioid abuse.
In addition to these bipartisan achievements, this Congress and Administration enacted comprehensive tax reform contributing to a more vibrant economy through job growth; boosts to retirement assets and other investments; wage increases; and savings of time and money from simplified tax filing. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that Idaho is among ten states with record low unemployment rates in October. Congress and the Administration have also helped create a better climate for Americans to succeed by delaying or canceling burdensome federal mandates, including the repeal of Obamacare’s mandate requiring Americans to buy health insurance or face a penalty. We also made significant progress in advancing a court system that preserves our constitutional rights and provides fair justice by confirming a record number of judges.
This is not comprehensive, but some major actions taken as work continues to create an opportunity society for all Americans. This vision is built on conservative principles of a limited government, fiscal responsibility, a strong national defense, and an emphasis on free market principles. If we work together across the aisle, we can continue to make this kind of progress.