Feb 08 2021
**Click here to download audio of this week’s column**
This January, our country swore in a new Congress. In the coming weeks and months, we will see democracy in action as the Senate and House of Representatives work on legislation that will help improve the lives of families in Nebraska and across the country.
But before any of those bills reaches the Senate floor, they’ll be carefully reviewed and thoroughly debated by committees. These committees cover everything from finance to foreign policy to the environment, and they have the power to keep what’s good about a bill and improve upon what’s not. The committee process is where Republicans and Democrats come together to work out our differences before we send a bill to the full Senate.
Every senator sits on a few of the Senate’s 20 committees, depending on their expertise, interests, and how they can best serve their state. I am proud to report that I will sit on five committees in the 117th Congress: the Armed Services Committee; the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee; the Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee; the Rules Committee; and the Select Committee on Ethics.
My seat on each of these committees affords me a chance to advocate for what matters most to Nebraskans.
Making sure our military has the resources they need to protect our country is Congress’ most important job, and so I am especially pleased to sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. I have served on this committee since my first year in the Senate, and from securing funding for a new runway at Offutt Air Force Base to making sure our military men and women have everything they need to complete the missions they are given, these have been some of my proudest accomplishments in public service.
I came to the Senate in 2013 from the Nebraska Legislature, where I devoted much of my attention to infrastructure. I have maintained that focus in the U.S. Senate.
Just as our nuclear deterrent is essential to our national security, so are our roads, bridges, and broadband infrastructure essential for our economic security. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how important this infrastructure is – without it, crucial products like the vaccines couldn’t get where they need to go and Americans couldn’t work from home. We must keep our infrastructure up to date and incorporate the most advanced new technologies into our network.
In the first month of the 117th Congress, I have used my place on this committee to help introduce bills that would protect domestic violence survivors from abusers seeking to control and track their mobile phones, as well as require the Federal Communications Commission to include maternal health outcomes in its broadband mapping tools for better targeting of telehealth resources. Bills like these, which examine the ways information and communications technology impacts vulnerable populations, are a major reason why our work on the Commerce Committee is so important.
Perhaps most importantly for our state, I will also serve on the Senate Agriculture Committee. Through this committee, we have made important progress for Nebraska producers in recent years, including the 2018 Farm Bill. I will continue to fight for the farmers and ranchers whose hard work drives Nebraska forward.
Finally, I am humbled that my Senate colleagues have chosen me to serve on the Senate Rules and Ethics Committees. These committees, and the Ethics Committee in particular, are one of the main ways the Senate promotes the honesty and integrity the American people expect of us. You can be sure I will do my part to maintain those important standards.
When I find out which committees I will be serving on at the start of each new Congress, I feel just as grateful to be your advocate as I did on my first day. Thank you for the opportunity to represent you in Washington. Let’s get to work.
Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.