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Beginning the 116th Congress

January 4, 2019

It’s a new year and a new Congress. While I would have preferred to retain Republican control of the House for the 116th Congress, I believe there are many things we can accomplish in Washington to serve the best interests of the American people.

Chief among my priorities will be to improve market access for our agricultural producers who have been hurt by our current trade disputes with China and other countries. I was happy to see negotiations over the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) conclude successfully and I hope the details are worked out in a way which allows Congress to approve it.

Another such improvement would be the negotiation of a trade agreement with Japan, which has the world’s third largest economy, to expand the sale of American goods and services there. As the new co-Chair of the U.S.-Japan Congressional Caucus, I hope to continue to build positive relationships with our Japanese counterparts and support further strengthening our trade ties.

Our national debt continues to be a very serious problem which has yet to be reined in. Given our current level of economic growth, tax revenue is higher than it has ever been. However, growth alone will not overcome our current level of deficit spending. We have serious problems with both discretionary and mandatory spending which Congress must address as soon as possible.

An area where I hope to work with my Democrat colleagues is by continuing the work I began as Chairman of the Human Resources Subcommittee to connect unemployed Americans with the many open jobs across the country. Our current unemployment rate is a strong sign the economy has improved, but many Americans are not counted in these numbers as they have long since stopped looking for work.

Another subject of bipartisan agreement is Medicare, namely two bills I introduced during the last Congress with broad bipartisan support. One of them would abolish Medicare’s 96-hour rule, which arbitrarily forces healthcare providers to discharge or transfer patients within four days of entering the hospital. The other would empower healthcare professionals at skilled nursing facilities to render urgent care with the support of doctors through telehealth agreements.

These are just a few of the initiatives I hope to advance in the 116th Congress. I will continue to support President Trump’s agenda of securing our nation’s borders, rolling back burdensome regulations, and ensuring our producers are treated fairly around the world.