Nov 13 2018
** Click here to download audio of this week’s column**
During an early summer day last year, I announced that I wanted to continue my work to improve life for all Nebraskans. The progress we made in my first term in the United States Senate was encouraging, and I knew we could build upon that momentum in these next six years. This Election Day, Nebraskans voted to keep me working for our families in the U.S. Senate. I am humbled and grateful for the sacred trust that you’ve placed in me.
Moving forward, I’ll work to build on the great achievements we’ve made by working together. We have a lot to be proud of.
We have bolstered our national defense and helped ensure our troops are never outmatched on the battlefield. The Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) gave a much-deserved 2.6 percent pay raise to all members of the uniformed services. It also authorized nearly $400 million for the RC-135 family of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platforms, which are proudly headquartered at the 55th Wing at Offutt Air Force Base. And we will also continue to oversee the completion of the runway project.
Together, we’ve kept our promises to the men and women who have served in the armed forces. This year, Congress passed the bipartisan VA MISSION Act to address issues with the Veterans Choice Program felt by many of Nebraska’s veterans. Moreover, our hard work has led to the creation of new facilities for our veterans, including a new ambulatory VA clinic in Omaha and the redevelopment of the Lincoln VA on the current campus.
Infrastructure is a Nebraska priority. We brought back $1.5 billion to Nebraska for our highways and bridges and secured $25 million for the Lincoln South Beltway. We completed the levee system that protects the drinking water for two-thirds of our state’s population in Lincoln and the Omaha-metro area and saw a number of communities receive grants for their water systems.
The Senate passed a five-year reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration bill for the first time in 35 years. The bill delivered a boost of millions of dollars in increased funding for our small and regional airports in Nebraska.
Working with people in our state, I was able to amend the Every Student Succeeds Act to make sure that our Nebraska value of having local communities, parents, educators, and school boards make the decisions on how to best meet the needs of their students remains “the Nebraska Way.”
We have increased funding for research on cancer, Type One diabetes, and Alzheimer’s and passed the Right to Try Act- giving hope to those with incurable diseases. I was proud to join my colleagues in passing critical measures like the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act to help combat the opioid crisis. The bill reauthorized $500 million in annual grant funding that will strengthen state and local efforts to improve treatment and build on existing prevention programs.
I have also worked hard to eliminate unnecessary regulations frustrating our agriculture producers. We are rolling back the previous administration’s Waters of the U.S. rule, which expanded the federal government’s jurisdiction over Nebraska’s water to include everything from a ditch on the side of the road to a puddle in a pasture.
This is only the beginning. We have much left we still need to accomplish.
In the coming weeks, I’m hopeful Congress will conclude deliberations on the farm bill. Most of the farm programs in place will continue through the end of the year, but our farmers deserve better than a foggy vision of their future. Nebraskans need certainty. The farm bill offers crop insurance protections, streamlined trade promotion programs, and a stronger deployment of broadband.
During these next six years, I will continue to work across the aisle and build relationships to deliver improvements for our state on a variety of challenges facing our nation. The high cost of health care, lack of broadband access across Nebraska, and updating our infrastructure are at the forefront of my mind.
Your concerns and stories that you have shared with my office have made me a better senator. Whether it’s letters, calls, emails, or roundtables- I’ll continue to listen to what is on your mind. I treasure the opportunity to travel throughout The Good Life to hear from you in person. That’s a promise I made when I first arrived in the Senate and a promise I will continue to keep.
It’s an honor to represent the people of Nebraska in the United States Senate. With the renewed trust you have placed in me, I give you my commitment to continue to fight for you every single day.
God Bless Nebraska. And God Bless the United States of America.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.