Looking ahead: What's in Store for 2017

Harrison Daily Times

Dec 30 2016

For the first time since 2007, Republicans have control of Congress and the White House. We are excited about moving forward with an agenda that will improve the lives of citizens in Arkansas and across the country. 

Congress is set to start working on a plan to deliver on the promises made during this past election season. I’ve received many questions about what our priorities will be and how we can accomplish them, so I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some of them. 

One question that is frequently raised deals with the president-elect’s nominees to lead Cabinet-level departments and agencies such as the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, Department of State and others. It’s important to remember that certain nominees must be confirmed by the Senate as outlined in Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, while some of the president’s advisors, like the White House Chief of Staff, are not. 

I welcome the opportunity to weigh in on the nominees that President-elect Trump will put forward for Senate confirmation. I anticipate that the men and women he chooses to help lead his administration will be highly qualified individuals of character with proven records of expertise, but I am eager to evaluate each nominee on the basis of his or her own merits. I look forward to carefully considering each nominee in accordance with my constitutional duty. 

Another priority for Congress will be to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a free-market, patient-centered approach that will expand coverage and lower costs. I’ve heard from many Arkansans who have seen their deductibles rise and are now paying for what amounts to catastrophic coverage under Obamacare and they are wondering how we will solve these problems. 

Republicans’ answer will be to pursue policies that will lower costs, including allowing Americans to shop across state lines for their health insurance, allowing small businesses to pool together to purchase group insurance and introduce portability to the market to ensure that hardworking Americans don’t have disruptions in their coverage when they change jobs. Congress may also consider an approach that would send hard-earned tax dollars back to the states in the form of block grants so state leaders can decide how best to offer affordable health insurance to as many citizens as possible. 

Finally, one of the most pressing items on the agenda will be to undo many of the regulations created under the Obama administration that are harming the economy and stifling job creation. When President Obama was unwilling or unable to work with Congress, he often resorted to empowering executive agencies to unilaterally create rules and regulations without input from stakeholders. 

New rules from the Environmental Protection Agency have threatened farmers, ranchers, private land owners and energy producers while simultaneously raising costs without delivering on promises of cleaner air and water in addition to taking control away from states and creating uncertainty. The Department of Labor has also created rules that are harmful to small businesses and will negatively impact job creators. 

Reversing these regulations is going to be a top priority in Congress because it is critical to getting our economy moving in the right direction. 

Those are just a few of the many items Congress will be addressing in 2017. I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner with my colleagues and the new administration to solve the problems facing our country.