Reflecting on 2016 Accomplishments

Harrison Daily Times

Dec 23 2016

As the 114th Congress comes to an end and we turn the page on 2016, it’s time to reflect on the achievements that will make a difference in the lives of Arkansans and all Americans.

Earlier this year, the Washington Examiner reported that the Republican-led Senate is “passing bills at a rate that has not been seen in decades.” This Congress, the Senate passed nearly 300 bills and nearly 200 of those became law.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act had overwhelming support in Congress because heroin and prescription drug abuse is an epidemic impacting Americans from all walks of life in all 50 states. I was proud to support this when it came before the Senate because it provides a broad response to fight addiction by expanding prevention, education, treatment and recovery efforts. It was signed into law this summer and will help save lives and give families with loved ones struggling with addiction hope that recovery is possible.

Congress continued its commitment to fight the opioid epidemic earlier this month with the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act which will provide grants to states to fight opioid abuse in addition to advancing medical research for cures for diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

For the first time in four decades, Congress reformed our nation’s chemical safety laws because they were not effective. Signed into law in July, The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act improves public confidence in the safety of chemicals, creates regulatory certainty for business and more uniform protections for American families. It allows us to take advantage of advances in technology and research to improve safety for consumers and the environment.

We also passed comprehensive veterans bills into law that included measures I helped introduce. Through these provisions, we were able to preserve successful programs for homeless veterans to help rebuild their lives, ensure that veterans who suffer service-ending combat-related injuries are not taxed on the severance payment they receive from the Department of Defense and give National Guard and Reserve retirees who served honorably for a minimum of 20 years but do not meet the active duty service requirement veteran status.

Congress also passed a resolution I authored to recognize the contributions of former Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright as we celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Fulbright Program. This has become an important diplomatic tool that promotes peace throughout the world.

Legislation that improves consumer protections and strengthens air traveler security passed as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill. I was pleased to help write a provision in this legislation to reform general aviation medical standards for non-commercial pilots to allow them to fly many types of small, light aircraft without a third class medical certificate.

To recognize the importance of Arkansas tree farmers’ economic and conservation efforts to our state and the 75th anniversary of the American Tree Farm System, I authored a resolution honoring this program that helps woodland owners sustain forests and promote the benefits they provide. The Senate passed this resolution in July.

I’m pleased with what my colleagues and I have accomplished in the 114th Congress and I look forward to what we’ll be able to achieve with a new president. I’m excited about the next Congress and the opportunity we have to repeal and replace Obamacare and provide relief from the regulations imposed by the current administration. I wish you and your family all the best in 2017.