Weekly Columns

2015 in Review

Dec 30 2015

As we close the book on another year and celebrate the excitement and promise of a New Year, I want to highlight some of the Senate’s accomplishments in 2015. 

Under new Republican leadership, the Senate set out to restore responsibility to the fiscal process. We passed the first bicameral budget since 2009. More importantly, the first balanced budget since 2001. And all twelve appropriations bills were approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee for the first time in six years. 

We took big strides in providing relief to hardworking Arkansans and their families. Most significantly, we passed the first Obamacare repeal bill that will make it to the President’s desk. 

The legislation we passed would begin to lift the burdens and higher costs the failed program has placed on every Arkansan. It begins to build a bridge from the president’s broken promises to a better health care system for hardworking families across the country.

The Obamacare repeal isn’t the only relief we have sought to provide the people of Arkansas from the Obama Administration’s regulatory excesses. 

The Senate has passed measures to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) ‘waters of the U.S.’ (WOTUS) mandate and the carbon rules on new and existing power plants, two glaring examples of administration overreach. These EPA mandates strip Arkansans of their personal property rights, stifle job growth and will raise the cost-of-living for every Arkansan. 

While the President will likely veto these bills, Senate passage of them sends a clear message of disapproval of these policies on behalf of the American people. 

Certainly not all of our accomplishments have met a veto pen. 

People often ask me why Congress can’t work together to get things done for the American people. I can honestly say that we are. 

We started off the year with by passing the groundbreaking Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act to ensure our veterans receive mental health services. We also prevented a cut to Medicare providers that would have left many Arkansas seniors desperately searching for new doctors. 

This year we came together to pass the first multi-year highway bill since 2005. It will allow Arkansas and other states for important infrastructure improvements, which are so vital to our economic well-being. Hundreds of projects in Arkansas were at risk of cancellation or further delays if a long-term bill was not passed. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law by President Obama on December 4, 2015. 

The President also signed the first significant education reform bill since 2002. 

I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish this year, and I look forward to continuing to work with the Arkansas congressional delegation on your behalf in the coming year. I am confident we will continue to build off of 2015’s successes to create policies that will help make 2016 and years to come better for the people of Arkansas. I wish you and your family all the best for the new year.