Nov 13 2018

Every year, thousands of athletes, coaches, volunteers and fans come together for Special Olympics Missouri indoor, outdoor, and summer games. As a longtime supporter of the organization, I’ve seen firsthand how Special Olympics has redefined what strength, determination and courage look like in the world of sports.

This month, I had the honor of participating in the public dedication ceremony for the new Training for Life Campus in Jefferson City. This state-of-the-art, 16.5 acre facility will provide Missouri’s 15,000 Special Olympics athletes more opportunities to strengthen their skills and train for local, state, national and international competitions. It is the largest facility of its type in the world and will offer an array of programs, including: specialty camps, coach and volunteer training, and on-site dental, vision and hearing screenings, as well as physical exams.

One of the Special Olympics’ greatest achievements has been its impact on the health and wellness of athletes around the world. It is the largest public health organization specifically for people with intellectual disabilities. Individuals with intellectual disabilities are at a 40 percent greater risk for health issues, and many health professionals lack the training or experience needed to provide quality care. I’ve been an advocate for the Healthy Athletes program, which began in 1997 and has provided more than two million free health screenings and trained more than 240,000 health care professionals in over 135 countries in how to deal with special needs kids and adults.

These routine health screenings can have a life-changing impact. A special needs family can easily miss other problems, like eyesight, hearing and undetected dental problems. As one athlete told me after his first eye exam found he needed prescription glasses, “I always saw two softballs. It's a whole lot easier when there's just one ball.” The health screenings also provide athletes a fun, positive environment that helps reduce the anxiety they may experience when visiting a doctor’s office.

Special Olympics also helps people with intellectual disabilities build confidence and gain leadership skills. Nationwide, a little more than half of people who participate in Special Olympics have a job. Whether they’re working at a small business or inspiring others as a Special Olympics spokesperson or coach, many individuals who participate in the Special Olympics gain invaluable life skills.

Special Olympics brings together all members of the community – families, volunteers, public officials and others. In our state, the Missouri State High School Activities Association and Special Olympics have teamed up to expand the number of Unified Sports programs in schools. Unified Sports brings people with and without intellectual disabilities together as teammates to learn from one another, work together and build long-lasting relationships.

This year, Special Olympics celebrated its 50th Anniversary. As chairman of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, we reauthorized the Special Olympics program in the fiscal year 2017 government funding bill. That legislation provides grants for classrooms and activities designed to support schools and integrated recreational programs that encourage acceptance and become models for including those with special needs.

I’m proud to see our state become home to a Special Olympics training facility that sets the standard. I’m grateful for everyone in the Jefferson City community and across the state who worked tirelessly to make the Training for Life campus a reality. I look forward to seeing generations of Special Olympics athletes take and live by the Special Olympics Oath, “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

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Oct 24 2018

The U.S. economy hit a milestone in March. For the first time since record keeping began in 2000, there were more job openings than job seekers. As of August, there were a record 7.1 million job openings, highlighting one of the biggest challenges we face: closing the skills gap and developing a workforce that can meet the demands of a growing economy.

As chairman of the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, I have supported job training programs that provide students the skills and training they need for the jobs available today and in the years to come. This year’s Department of Labor funding bill, which President Donald Trump recently signed into law, provided money for the Job Corps program, which for decades has helped prepare young Americans for long-term success in the job market.

Job Corps is a national training and education program aimed at addressing the multiple barriers to employment faced by disadvantaged young people entering the labor force. The educational, career and support services offered by Job Corps help students obtain and hold gainful employment, pursue further education or training, or satisfy entrance requirements for careers in the Armed Forces.

Today, there are 123 Job Corps centers, with at least one in every state. In Missouri, we have Job Corps centers in St. Louis, Excelsior Springs and the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge near Poplar Bluff. At these centers, students train for jobs in everything from culinary arts to carpentry to federal service. The St. Louis Job Corps center, for example, offers students career technical training in 12 fields and the opportunity to obtain a high school diploma, with more than 97 percent of students earning an industry credential and close to 84 percent of students placed in full-time jobs upon completion of the program. These are good-paying jobs that offer long-term financial security and the opportunity for personal and professional growth.

If we are going to continue to invest federal taxpayer dollars in job training, we have to be sure these programs are living up to their mission. That’s why I’m encouraged by the steps the Department of Labor, under the leadership of Secretary Alexander Acosta, is taking to strengthen results in the Job Corps program.

In the past, the greatest measure of success of Job Corps centers was focused on high school diplomas or high school equivalency certificates awarded, as well as industry credentials earned. Measures related to whether students obtained jobs and kept the jobs after leaving the Job Corps program were considered somewhat less important.

Under reforms initiated by Acosta, Job Corps centers’ performance is more closely tied to whether people get and keep a job. After all, it’s the Job Corps, not the “get a certificate” corps. Now, success in the job market will be the most important outcome of the program.

Maintaining a strong federal commitment to Job Corps, and other programs like work study and apprenticeship training, is critical to maintaining U.S. competitiveness in the 21st century economy. I will continue advocating for job training programs that are needed, that are working and that will give every American the opportunity to get ahead.

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Sep 06 2018

One of the most important legacies a president can leave is the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court issues decisions that have far-reaching impacts on everything from individual liberty to the economy.

Last year the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and soon the Senate will put another well-qualified jurist, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, on our nation’s highest court.

During my meeting with Judge Kavanaugh, he and I had a good discussion about his judicial philosophy and how it would guide his decision-making process on the Supreme Court. Based on our conversation, along with his outstanding judicial record and legal background, I believe Judge Kavanaugh is the right choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.

More than 300 opinions and over 166,000 pages of materials from Judge Kavanaugh’s time in the executive branch are available for public review, making this is one of the most transparent confirmation processes of any Supreme Court nominee. The full Senate will have an opportunity to consider Judge Kavanaugh’s nomination after his confirmation hearings, and I’m confident he’ll be sworn in later this year.

Once Judge Kavanaugh is sworn in, President Trump will have filled two Supreme Court vacancies with judges who, in their early 50s, could go on to serve two to three decades after the president leaves office. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, for example, served on the court three decades after he was nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. Retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy served 30 years as well. Both of the Reagan appointees served for years after President Reagan’s death.

President Trump is also on track to leave a lasting legacy on the U.S. Circuit Courts, which play a vital role in our constitutional system of government. Circuit court judges sit on the courts just below the Supreme Court and are appointed to lifetime terms. Because only a small fraction of cases decided by circuit courts are taken up by the Supreme Court, the makeup of circuit courts has a significant impact on the law. In the past year alone, circuit courts have issued more than 36,000 decisions, compared to just 69 for the Supreme Court. Circuit courts can set precedents on a wide range of issues, including religious liberty, regulatory reform, and the 2nd amendment.

Senate Republicans have already confirmed 26 circuit court judges since President Trump took office, the most by this point in any presidency. The president’s judicial nominees now make up one out of every seven circuit court seats. With 12 remaining vacancies on the circuit court, President Trump has additional opportunities to shape our judicial system for years to come.

The historic progress Senate Republicans have made in confirming President Trump’s well-qualified judicial nominees is one of the most important accomplishments of this administration and Senate. I look forward to supporting Judge Kavanaugh as his confirmation process moves forward, and I’ll continue working on the other important issues facing our nation, like combatting the opioid epidemic, strengthening workforce development, and more.

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Jul 05 2018

For Kalena Bruce, a fifth-generation cattle farmer in Stockton, Missouri, finding affordable health coverage under Obamacare hasn’t been easy. She’s a young mom and business owner paying $700 a month in premiums alone, not to mention deductibles and copays.

That’s why she’s become an advocate for allowing more small businesses like hers to bring down their health care costs by pooling together. It’s an idea that’s worked for Missouri businesses for more than 15 years and will now be available nationwide thanks to the Trump administration’s new rule expanding access to association health plans, or AHPs.

Simply put, AHPs allow small businesses to band together to buy health insurance. Large employers, such as labor unions or corporations, are able to provide more affordable coverage to employees by leveraging their size to negotiate lower prices and better options from insurance companies. AHPs help level the playing field for small businesses by allowing them to join with other businesses to create an economy of scale that increases their bargaining power, lowers administrative costs and mitigates risk.

Approximately 4 million Americans, including 400,000 who would not otherwise be insured, are expected to enroll in AHPs under the new rule, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The idea behind AHPs has a track record of success in Missouri. The Missouri Association of Manufacturers formed a plan similar to an AHP with 32 companies in 2006, allowing six of those companies to offer coverage to their employees for the first time. A second plan formed in 2010 brought premium costs down by 60 percent, according to the organization. At the end of last year, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce created an AHP and is already offering insurance to about 5,000 people.

Expanding AHPs is a simple solution to a big problem. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of small employers offering health coverage dropped by 25 percent. At the same time, premiums on the Obamacare exchanges have skyrocketed. That’s especially challenging for sole proprietors, who make up about 85 percent of the 30 million small-business owners in our country. Family farmers, for example, might not qualify for subsidies on the Obamacare exchanges if they’re making $70,000 a year. However, they may be paying $20,000 or more in premiums and deductibles for a family of four.

The new rule will expand access to quality, affordable coverage by allowing more employers to form AHPs. The rule opens the plans up to sole proprietors and broadens the criteria under which they can be formed. Employers are now able to form AHPs by city, county, state or multi-state metropolitan areas, as well as form them across state lines based on their specific industry.

The administration’s rule also provides small businesses the same regulatory relief Obamacare gave large employers. Large companies that self-insure are not bound by the law’s benefit mandates and rating restrictions. Under the new rule, small businesses will be treated the same way. There will still be protections for pre-existing conditions, companies cannot cancel plans because you get sick, and the plans are prohibited from imposing annual or lifetime limits on benefit coverage.

Small businesses create two-thirds of new jobs in this country. Providing more options for affordable coverage isn’t just good for families, it also will free up capital to reinvest and grow their businesses. The stronger Main Street businesses are, the stronger our entire economy and every community will be.

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Apr 13 2018

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is fueling record-level economic optimism across America, and Missouri is no exception.

I recently visited two small businesses, one in Owensville and one in Montgomery City, and it was clear the new tax code is already paying off for employees and local jobs, and laying the groundwork for stronger growth in our communities.

As of today, more than 500 companies nationwide have publicly announced pay raises, bonuses, benefit increases, and new investments because of tax reform. More than four million Americans will benefit from these changes, including thousands in Missouri. Walmart, our state’s largest employer, and Lowes, which employs 6,000 Missourians, announced tax reform bonuses and expanded maternity and parental leave, and both companies will provide $5,000 to help cover adoption expenses. Home Depot, with 34 locations in Missouri, announced that its employees will receive bonuses of up to $1,000. Smaller employers, like Mid-AM Metal Forming in Rogersville and Hunter Chase and Associates in Springfield, have also handed out bonuses to their employees.

In addition, with the new tax rates in effect, the vast majority of Missourians should be taking home more money in their paychecks. For the single parent with one child who makes $41,000 a year, their taxes will be reduced by 75 percent or nearly $1,400 this year. For the average family of four making $75,000 a year, the law will mean $2,000 in annual tax savings. That amounts to more than two months’ worth of groceries, a year’s worth of gasoline, and almost a year and a half of utility bills for the average Missouri household.

At a recent roundtable hosted by President Trump in St. Louis, one mother and veteran said the increase in her take-home pay is allowing her to invest in her daughter’s education to give her the same opportunity she had to succeed. Chris, who wrote to me from Midland, says he’s taking home an additional $136 in his pension check. For him, that means another trip to the grocery store each month and help offsetting other bills.

Helping families also means making sure they have more opportunities and better paying jobs in the future. We’ve seen employers in Missouri and across the nation announce major investments that will strengthen our economy and create thousands of new jobs. A solar company based in Springfield just announced that it’s adding 30 jobs and will invest $300,000 in a Kansas City expansion. Boeing, which has a significant presence in St. Louis, has announced $100 million in charitable donations, $100 million for workforce development, and $100 million for infrastructure and facilities investments nationwide.

A recent report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce found that nearly sixty percent of business leaders plan to increase hiring over the next six months. As the CEO of Kansas City Southern said, “The combination of lower tax rates and expensing is going to create … additional cash flow that we can use for reinvestment in growth, [to] create jobs, and so it's a very big deal.”

Delivering much-needed tax relief for Missouri families was a historic accomplishment, and it will continue to have a major, positive impact on families across our state. But, our work can’t stop there. It’s important for Congress to continue moving forward on the big issues we have in front of us, like fighting the opioid epidemic, strengthening our infrastructure, and more. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join us in doing the job the people we work for expect us to do.

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Feb 23 2018

On an early September morning last year, a Springfield mom walked into her daughter’s bedroom and experienced a tragedy no parent should ever have to face. Following a four-year battle with opioid addiction, her 20-year old daughter, a former high school cheerleader, was face-down in her bed after suffering a fatal heroin overdose.

Her struggle with addiction began after she was prescribed pain medication for injuries stemming from a car accident. This story is repeated in communities in Missouri and across the nation. In 2016, nearly three Missourians died every day from an opioid overdose. Drug overdose deaths have surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the number one accidental cause of death in our state.

I’ve met with families, first responders, and medical professionals across Missouri to hear how the federal government can support their efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. One thing I’ve consistently heard is that we need to make sure we are providing the resources necessary to address this public health crisis.

Earlier this month, Congress passed and the President signed a budget agreement providing $6 billion in additional funding over the next two years for opioid-related programs. As chairman of the subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, we’ve increased funding to respond to the opioid epidemic by 1,300 percent, or $745 million, in just the past two years.

Funding is an important part of this fight, but it’s not a silver bullet. There are several important steps we must take to combat this crisis, including improving treatment services, preventing addiction in the first place, and developing new non-addictive treatments for pain management.

While this public health crisis affects communities both large and small, drug overdose deaths have impacted rural areas particularly hard, with deaths in rural areas surpassing those in cities. We can improve treatment and prevention services in rural communities by ensuring they have the flexibility to respond to their unique challenges. This includes expanding access to comprehensive treatments, which means everything from telemedicine to supporting the training of behavioral health specialists as well as primary physicians and nurses to identify the first signs of addiction.

Improving opioid treatment also requires expanding access to mental health services. Studies have shown that mood and anxiety disorders double the risk of addiction. Health care professionals must recognize that a behavioral health issue, like addiction, should be treated like any other health issue.

The second critical step to combat this epidemic is preventing individuals from becoming addicted in the first place. We need to identify where the problems are, where they are most severe, and try to predict where they might go next. We also need to do a better job of making sure physicians, dentists and individuals are fully aware of the risks associated with taking opioid-based pain medicine.

Lastly, we won’t be able to get this crisis under control unless we make sure people with acute or chronic pain have access to non-addictive pain medications or alternative treatments. Developing new pain treatments as adequate alternatives to opioids addresses the core problem of the crisis — effective pain management.

The opioid epidemic has touched people of all ages, from every background, in communities across the nation. Tackling this crisis will require a sustained federal commitment and multi-faceted approach. Addressing the opioid epidemic is a priority for many Missouri families I talk to, particularly in rural areas, and it will continue to be one of my top priorities in the Senate.

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Feb 03 2018

A thousand dollar bonus may be “crumbs” to some people in Washington, but for Missouri families that are already feeling the impact of the tax cuts that were signed into law in December, it can mean a lot.

Missouri’s top employer, Walmart, recently announced that 25,700 Missourians will be eligible for cash bonuses. Walmart will also be raising the starting wage for full-time employees to just under $14 in our state, along with expanding its parental and maternity leave policy and providing adoption assistance nationwide. At least 20 companies that are either based in Missouri, like Great Southern Bank in Springfield and Mid-Am Metal Forming in Rogersville, or employ Missourians have made similar announcements. Nationwide, at least 3 million Americans are receiving bonuses, wage increases or enhanced benefits because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

We’ve also seen several of our nation’s largest employers announce major investments that will strengthen our economy and create thousands of new jobs. Apple plans to create 20,000 new jobs as part of its plan to contribute $350 billion to the U.S. economy over the next five years. Boeing is putting $100 million into workforce training and another $100 million into infrastructure and facilities. At the same time, smaller employers are making the same kinds of decisions.    

On top of these capital and workforce investments, I’ve been particularly glad to see hundreds of millions of dollars going toward charitable contributions. I have long supported tax policies that promote charitable giving, and ensuring nonprofit organizations have the resources they need to continue serving our community remains a top priority.

And, under the law, many Missouri families’ electric bills should go down. Investor-owned utility companies in several other states have already announced rate decreases. When companies like Empire Electric and Ameren have their tax bill reduced, the rate they can charge is reduced also. The Missouri Public Service Commission has taken the first step toward seeking lower rates for Missourians.  

These are some of the immediate, positive effects of the law, but there’s much more to come. As early as this month, most workers will get to take home more of their paycheck. By nearly doubling the standard deduction, doubling the child tax credit and lowering rates, the new tax code will allow Missourians to keep more of their hard-earned money instead of sending it to the IRS. 

The average family of four making $73,000 a year will see around a $2,000 tax savings this year. Or, to put it another way, that’s more than two months worth of groceries, 17 months of utility bills for the average Missouri household, or a year’s worth of gasoline. For the single parent with one child who makes $41,000 a year, their taxes will be reduced by 75 percent or nearly $1,400. For families that have struggled to make ends meet with slow economic growth and relatively stagnant wages over the past 10 years, that will make a big difference.

Helping families also means making sure they have more opportunities and better-paying jobs in the future. By lowering the corporate tax rate, we’ve increased U.S. competitiveness and made it possible to bring trillions of dollars that have been stuck overseas back to our shores. By changing the way small business income is treated under the tax code and allowing Main Street businesses and family farms to immediately deduct the full cost of new equipment, we’re making it easier for them reinvest, reinvent, and grow. Together, these critical reforms are fueling record-high optimism among manufacturers, business leaders and American families.

Democrats in Congress who voted against this bill were told by their leaders it would be “Armageddon.” With more than 250 companies (and counting) using their tax savings to show employees how much they’re valued in a growing economy, nothing could be further from reality.

Delivering much-needed tax relief for Missouri families was a historic accomplishment, but our work can’t stop there. It’s important for Congress to continue moving forward on the big issues we have in front of us, like extending funding for community health centers, fighting the opioid epidemic, strengthening our infrastructure, and more. I urge my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join us in doing the job the people we work for expect us to do.

Sen. Roy Blunt is the junior U.S. senator from Missouri.

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Jan 26 2018

WASHINGTON – In an op-ed in USA Today, U.S. Senators Roy Blunt (Mo.) and Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) to underscore the need for sustained resources and a multi-faceted response to combat the opioid epidemic. Following are excerpts from Blunt and Capito’s op-ed:

Every day, 115 people die from an opioid overdose. It now surpasses motor vehicle accidents as the number one accidental cause of death in the nation. It is an epidemic that has impacted people of all ages and backgrounds, in communities in our states and across the nation.

Take, for example, the 16-year-old high school cheerleader from Springfield, Missouri, who was prescribed pain medication for injuries stemming from a car accident. Four years later, despite repeated efforts to fight her addiction, she died from a heroin overdose. …

Our country has a health crisis. It will require a sustained commitment, continued partnership between Congress, the administration, states, and local communities, and a multi-faceted response to tackle this epidemic. As members of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, we have led efforts to increase funding to respond to the opioid epidemic by 1,300%, or $760 million, in just the past two years. …

We’ve taken some important steps to respond to the crisis, but there is still much more that needs to be done. As we continue our efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, our focus should be on these three critical steps:

First, we need to understand the best options for treating opioid use and ensure all Americans have access to these services. A key step forward must be the recognition by the health care community that a behavioral health issue should be treated like any other physical health issue. If we are going to effectively address opioid addiction, we need to ensure those suffering can access effective treatment — and that should include mental health services.

This is particularly important in states with large rural populations like Missouri and West Virginia. As senators from these states, we know firsthand the challenges that rural areas face, including the lack of telemedicine, resources, and trained personnel. …

Second, we need to stem the number of individuals who become addicted in the first place. This involves improving surveillance capabilities to better understand where the problems are and where they might go next. It includes educating physicians about the possible risks of prescribing opioids while also ensuring that we do not penalize physicians who act responsibly. Perhaps most importantly, we need to make certain the public understands the risks of taking opioids by increasing our public awareness education efforts.

Finally, simply reducing opioid prescriptions does not address the core problem —  effective pain management. We need to focus on developing new pain treatments as adequate alternatives to opioids. If patients with acute or chronic pain do not have reasonable access to non-addictive pain medications or alternative treatments, it will be difficult to solve this crisis.

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet. We need to continue to put a priority on resources for these critical steps if we’re going to get the opioid epidemic under control.

Read the full op-ed here.

Jan 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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Dec 12 2017

For most of us, the holiday season is a time to be with our families and celebrate all of our blessings. That’s not the case for the thousands of service members who are deployed overseas and their families.  For them, the holiday season is a poignant reminder of the sacrifices they make for the blessings we enjoy. This is an important time to reflect on everything they’ve done, and everything they continue to do, to keep us safe. And, it’s an even more important time to honor that sacrifice with our actions.

Today, we have the most powerful military in the world, but we all recognize that our military men and women do not serve alone. Military families provide the unwavering support our service members need to carry out their missions. There are innumerable challenges that come with military life, and it’s our job to ensure military families have the support they need. That’s why I’m proud to announce that President Trump recently signed the Military Family Stability Act into law as part of this year’s defense policy bill.

The Military Family Stability Act, which I introduced in May of this year, will help military families manage frequent moves that occur every two to three years. This bipartisan bill creates a buffer that allows military families to either move early or remain at their current duty station when a service member receives a new assignment. That added flexibility will allow military spouses to pursue their career or complete their education, and allow children to finish a school year in one location. Our military has evolved over the past decades, and the policies affecting their families should as well.

Supporting military families also means ensuring service members have opportunities and access to good-paying jobs once their active duty service has ended.

Our veterans have the skills and experience that are assets to employers in every sector of our economy. Unfortunately, the transition from military to civilian life can present a number of obstacles, and is often one of the most difficult personal decisions that service members make.

That’s why I’m also proud that President Trump signed into law my Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing Veterans Act, or HIRE Vets Act, earlier this year. This bipartisan legislation created a national standard to help veterans narrow down their employment options and focus their job search efforts on companies that recognize the value their military service will bring to the job. It also gives these employers the recognition they deserve and encourages more businesses to step up their Veterans recruitment and retention efforts.

As a member of the bipartisan Congressional Veterans Job Caucus, I’ll continue working to help ensure the nearly 500,000 veterans in our state, and millions more across the nation, are able to find the good-paying jobs they deserve.

Together, the HIRE Vets Act and Military Family Stability Act represent an important step toward our goal of ensuring that we keep our promises to our service members and veterans. However, our work is far from finished. We must continue our efforts to make sure veterans and service members are receiving the care, benefits, and support they have earned.

This holiday season, I hope every family will take a moment to reflect on the tremendous debt we owe to our nation’s veterans and service members, especially those stationed or deployed abroad, and the families that are eagerly awaiting their return.

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