Aug 12 2019
** Due to the August state work period, there is no audio of this week’s column**
This year has been tough for Nebraska. March, April, May, and July brought some of the most widespread and destructive damage our state has seen in a long time. Generations’ worth of hard work was destroyed by the catastrophic floods and car-sized ice. On top of that, our farmers and ag producers have endured economic uncertainty as a result of obstacles with our nation’s trading partners overseas. Our challenges are mounting, there is no doubt about that.
During times like these, I cannot help but think of how easy it would be to close our minds and hearts. But that’s not what is happening. That isn’t who we are. Instead, we are meeting adversity with bravery and generosity. Farmers and ranchers are confronting economic anxiety with patience and prudence.
As I have been on the road traveling our state, the strength of our people is evident in every town I visit.
The month of August is a valuable time for me to hear from many Nebraskans and engage in discussions on what is affecting their daily lives. It’s also an important time for me to directly relay what is being done at the federal level to help our communities recover and to improve the everyday lives of Nebraskans.
Recently, I had the opportunity to give an update at the Nebraska Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Summit on our efforts to recover from this year’s historic floods.
I spoke about the disaster relief bill in Congress that brought hundreds of millions of dollars to our state to help our communities get back on their feet. The Department of Transportation’s $25 million grant to Nebraska is also helping us rebuild some of our critical infrastructure. Further, with my full support, the Senate recently passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which would devote $587 million in disaster recovery funds to support Offutt Air Force Base and other military facilities. I’m looking forward to seeing firsthand how this critical funding is being used to restore our communities.
I also gave an update on the state of our nation’s trade relations.
We’ve experienced some encouraging progress lately. Japan lifted its restrictions on U.S. beef exports, and President Trump announced an agreement was reached with the European Union that will increase beef exports by more than $270 million every year. I was also pleased that the president announced his intention to reach a free trade agreement with Brazil. Nebraska produces some of the most high quality beef on Earth, and these opportunities spark more optimism for our families and communities to thrive.
I reinforced that for the good of Nebraska, and our nation, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) needs to pass Congress and be signed into law – and it needs to happen quickly. I believe the agreement will benefit Nebraska’s ag producers and bring good opportunities for working Americans.
I also toured the Lincoln Water Treatment Facility. During the floods last March, the facility lost a significant source of power and wells were damaged, which drastically impacted the water supply for Lincoln residents and businesses. Thankfully, the facility conducted emergency repairs and recovered days later. Although not all wells are fully operational at this time, it is meeting all demand for water in Lincoln. I was thankful for the opportunity to tour the plant along with Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird, and I’ll be doing all I can to help secure assistance for its long-term repair needs.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be visiting towns across the Good Life. I’m excited to check in with our towns and host roundtables to determine the specific ways I can help. There are many challenges that lie ahead. It will not be easy, but if we can continue to stay resilient and work together, I have no doubt we will meet them.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.