Weekly Column

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It is the beginning of the 116th Congress, and we are starting a new chapter in the U.S. Senate. During these next two years, Nebraskans will be confronted with challenges- some new and some ongoing. But I’m looking forward to working on solutions. This new beginning brings along fresh opportunities to improve the daily lives of our families.

This Congress, I will represent Nebraska on some of the most influential committees in the Senate: Armed Services; Commerce, Science, and Transportation; and Agriculture. My membership on these prominent committees gives me the opportunity to directly address issues that are vital to our state.

The first responsibility of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. In an increasingly complex and dangerous world, supplying our servicemen and women with the resources they need to defend our nation is my top priority. In the Senate, I will continue my work for a strong national defense on the Armed Services Committee, where I rank third in seniority.

I am proud to once again chair the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the bedrock of the nation’s security: our nuclear deterrent. With Russia and China increasingly seeking to challenge U.S. interests and reshape the geopolitical landscape in their favor, our nation needs a nuclear deterrent now more than any other time since the Cold War. However, our arsenal and the supporting nuclear infrastructure has aged far beyond its designed life and is in need of modernization. My subcommittee shoulders a solemn responsibility to ensure the forces that have deterred conflict, preserved our way of life, and maintained American power for decades continues to protect the next generation of our citizens. There is simply no higher priority mission for the Department of Defense. 

In addition to the nuclear mission, my chairmanship also provides me with direct oversight over U.S. Strategic Command’s other significant responsibilities, such as national security space and missile defense activities. From this position, I witness first-hand how Offutt Air Force Base is more than a key defense interest to our state; it is a national asset. I will continue to ensure that the brave men and women at Offutt receive the support needed to protect our homeland.

Providing a strong national defense is important to the success of our country and so is a thriving economy here at home. As a member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, I handle legislation that covers almost every essential component of our economy. In fact, the committee recently expanded because membership demand was so high. From innovation and job creation to manufacturing and technology, I have the opportunity to work on issues that are of tremendous importance to Nebraska.

Deploying strong broadband connection and increasing connectivity across our state remains a top priority. Access to reliable internet and phone access is a necessity not only for businesses to remain competitive, but for our public safety. We have made some progress, but I remain focused on providing dependable, high-speed broadband connection in urban and rural regions to meet our state’s unique needs.

Through the Commerce Committee, I chair the Transportation and Safety Subcommittee. A safe and efficient transportation network is absolutely necessary to move our Nebraska products across the country and around the world. My chairmanship gives me an opportunity to improve the secure, reliable movement of people and freight; provide critical oversight of key agencies within the Department of Transportation; and cut unnecessary federal red tape.

I take great pride in fighting for our farmers and ranchers on the Agriculture Committee. I was proud of the recent wins achieved through the 2018 farm bill. As ag producers face uncertainty and a difficult economy, I looking forward to building on this progress by opening up new trade opportunities and reducing regulatory burdens on our producers. This is an important committee for all Nebraskans because agriculture is the economic engine of our state.

Nebraskans deserve meaningful results. Last Congress, nine of the bills I sponsored and seven of my amendments were enacted into law. This comes because I travel our beautiful state, I listen to your concerns, and I look for ways I can use my positions on these high-profile committees to deliver results for you. I will continue doing this work in the days, weeks, and years ahead.

Thank you for participating in our democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.