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Courier Tribune (Op-Ed): 2017 in the Senate: Historic progress in advancing Missourians’ top priorities

January 18, 2018

Over the past year, the Senate has worked hand in hand with the Trump administration to advance Missouri families’ top priorities.

Last month, President Trump signed into law the most significant tax reform legislation in more than three decades. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will mean two things for hardworking families: more money in their pockets and paychecks, and better jobs and stronger economic growth over the long term. By doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit and lowering tax rates, we’re helping families keep more of what they earn.

Enacting the first major tax reform in decades is one of the biggest ways we’re changing the future of our economy, but it isn’t the only one.

One of the Senate’s other major accomplishments has been rolling back red tape that would have little to no benefit but would cost our economy billions and stifle growth. All told, the Senate used the Congressional Review Act to block 15 major new rules that would have cost our economy up to $36 billion in compliance costs.

I was also glad to see President Trump take swift action to strengthen our economy and protect Missouri families by scrapping two of the most damaging regulations handed down by the previous administration.

The first, the so-called Clean Power Plan, would have driven utility bills up by double digits in Missouri, amounting to an additional tax anytime someone flipped on a light switch, harvested a crop or paid for groceries. The second rule, known as the Waters of the United States Rule, would have increased permitting costs by as much as $52 million and environmental mitigation costs by as much as $113 million annually.

In the coming year, I’ll continue working to ensure we are keeping regulations that are needed and that are working, and eliminate or change those that aren’t.

One of the most important and long-term achievements of 2017 was the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and several other judicial nominees who will be instrumental in shaping the long-term view of the court.

In the first year of the Trump administration, the Senate confirmed a total of 12 circuit court judges — the highest number we’ve seen in decades. By comparison, President Obama had only three of his circuit court nominees confirmed in the first year of his administration. These judges sit on the courts just below the Supreme Court. Around 7,000 cases are appealed to the Supreme Court where less than 150 are usually heard. That means circuit courts make the final decision most of the time. It was an important step forward but, with more than 140 judicial vacancies yet to be filled, our efforts will continue.

Our work will also continue when it comes to keeping our promises to our nation’s veterans. Over the past year, we’ve continued addressing the problems at the Veterans Administration by passing legislation to modernize the outdated benefits claims appeals process and make it easier to fire VA employees for misconduct, while maintaining whistleblower protections. We’ve worked to expand opportunity by improving educational benefits and enhancing the post-9/11 GI bill. And, I’m especially proud to say that the president signed my HIRE Vets Act, which will help connect more veterans with employers that make veterans hiring, retention, and career development a priority.

With a new year ahead of us, the Senate will continue focusing on the issues Missourians care most about: strengthening the economy, improving our infrastructure, honoring America’s veterans and making sure families have the opportunities they need to get ahead.

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