Q: How will Congress build on the achievements from the first session of the 115th Congress?

A: Each branch of the federal government marked historic milestones in the first year of the Trump presidency. First, Congress enacted landmark tax cuts for the first time since 1986, overhauling an outdated tax system that will foster robust economic growth and put money back in people’s pockets. Second, the executive branch launched a regulatory reboot across the federal bureaucracy to remove unnecessary layers of regulations that stood to dry up innovation, drive up energy prices and dial up even more government control in our daily lives. For example, Iowans breathed a sigh of relief when the proposed WOTUS rule from the previous administration was rescinded after being put on hold by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. As the Environmental Protection Agency works to revise the rule, I’ll continue advocating for clarity. Washington should not be handing down unnecessary regulations that trigger costly litigation and compliance burdens, create red tape and uncertainty and marginalize the rights of property owners and family farmers who have a vested interest in protecting water quality and implementing sound stewardship of natural resources for their families and livelihoods. Third, the historic confirmation of 12 appellate court judges will strengthen our constitutional system of checks and balances for generations to come. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will conduct many more nomination hearings for vacancies on the federal district and appellate court benches. Currently, there are 149 openings. The federal judiciary serves as an impartial check on government overreach to preserve individual freedom, liberty and justice for all.

Q: What issues can Iowans expect Congress to address this year?

A: Congress has a full plate to digest as we set the policy table for the New Year. The menu includes must-pass spending bills to keep government open for business; fixing the broken immigration system, (including the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and work visa programs); investing in America’s infrastructure, reauthorizing the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP); and updating the farm bill. My legislative priorities also include advancing criminal and juvenile justice reforms; expanding access to affordable prescription drugs and fostering more competition and innovation in the pharmaceuticals industry; enacting college financial tools to help reduce student debt; and standing up for Iowa farmers and workers during trade negotiations so important to U.S. exports and prosperity on Main Street. My oversight work will continue to seek accountability for government spending across the federal bureaucracy; securing quality, timely health care for veterans, and resolving underpayments in the Medicaid rebate program that may have short-changed American taxpayers billions of dollars. As always, my eyes and ears are open to concerns and ideas shared by Iowans to make government more transparent, effective and efficient. From holding hospitals and nursing homes accountable for substandard care to holding the Pentagon’s feet to the fire for failure to produce a clean audit throughout the last quarter-century, I won’t let up in my efforts to make sure the government works for the American people. Rooting out misspending and financial mismanagement at the Department of Defense is mission critical to protecting tax dollars and strengthening national security. Recouping squandered tax dollars drained from public health programs that serve lower-income people and veterans is critical to continue providing essential services to those most in need. As the second session of the 115th Congress opens for business, I will continue my service as a watchdog for good government, champion for taxpayers and representative for Iowans in the United States Senate.

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