Op-Eds

Here’s to a new year and a new beginning. I have been honored to serve as your voice in the U.S. Senate for the past two years, and I am excited to take on the important issues we face heading into 2015.

The new Congress must live up to the expectations placed upon us. We must do what is right for our country, our future and our children and grandchildren.

As we begin this new year, I wanted to share with you some of the priorities I will be focusing on.

Congress’ first duty is to defend the nation. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am committed to working to neutralize the growing threats to our homeland and our allies, destroy our enemies and maintain our presence as a powerful force for good.

Peace through strength is a proven strategy. However, it also requires us to meet the changing demands and needs of our military — including the need for a more robust strategy to counter increased cyberwarfare.

Regulatory relief must also be a top priority. Nebraskans have faced an onslaught of new Washington red tape — from middle-class families struggling with Obamacare’s broken promises to community banks forced to meet impossible new standards.

Moreover, each new day seems to bring about a costly new federal regulation from agencies like the EPA. In case you missed it, Washington is now trying to regulate farm ditches and backyard ponds.

Overregulation kills jobs, drives up consumer costs and disproportionately hurts families who still feel too much economic pain. My seats on the Environment and Public Works and the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees give me the chance to push for aggressive oversight and clear funding priorities so we can begin to rein in this government gone wild.

Far too often, we focus on complex terms and big-picture policies without looking at the people and families they impact. From a mother working multiple jobs to put her children through school to a young college graduate hoping to start her career, millions of people are being impacted by the policies that are hampering our growth and potential.

Like most Nebraskans, I believe we need to do more to promote innovation and economic growth so that there are more opportunities and greater options. That means a simpler, fairer tax code, more regulatory certainty for job creators and modern rules for new technology.

We must help, not hold back, innovators and small businesses so they can grow, expand and invest in the people who make them great.

Many of these new technologies are called “disruptive,” meaning they shake up the old order of doing things. I believe it’s time to shake up the old order of doing things in Washington too. We cannot regulate rapidly developing fields like health information technology with rules written before the advent of the VCR.

As a member of the Commerce and Small Business Committees, I have opportunities to advance new ideas for economic growth and empower men and women to transform good ideas into paycheck-producing realities.

One example of my work is the E-Label Act, a bipartisan bill signed into law that revamps an outdated one requiring electronics manufacturers to place physical labels on their products. Allowing these manufacturers to create labels electronically saves time, increases productivity and limits costs so that companies can hire more workers.

I am looking forward to working on creative solutions to fix our nation’s crumbling infrastructure — a core duty of the federal government.

Nebraska has long been a leader in maintaining our roads, which serve as the lifeblood of our communities. Unfortunately, the federal government has failed to do the same. I intend to work with my colleagues on a bipartisan, long-term solution to address our nation’s aging infrastructure.

There is much to be done, and it starts with keeping Nebraska’s priorities at the forefront.