Productive Discussions with Nebraskans

Sep 8, 2017 Issues: Agriculture, Health Care, Trade, Ways & Means

Congress has a lengthy to-do list this fall, but I am grateful to have spent August traveling the Third District and hearing directly from Nebraskans on your priorities.

On my farm bill listening tour, I made stops in Broken Bow, Beatrice, and South Sioux City, in addition to stops in Scottsbluff and Aurora earlier this year. These open forums led to constructive discussions about what is and is not working in the current farm bill and how we can improve agriculture policy moving forward. Many attendees spoke about the importance of crop insurance, which is a vital and successful public-private partnership we must continue to support.

I appreciated having Nebraska Director of Agriculture Greg Ibach join us for these listening sessions, and I congratulate him on his nomination as U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs. President Trump has made an outstanding selection for this position, and the vast knowledge with which Director Ibach has served Nebraska so well will now benefit agriculture nationwide.

Additionally, it was productive to come together with the entire Nebraska congressional delegation at the State Fair – our state’s celebration of agriculture – to talk about farm bill priorities. Our delegation is united around the need to grow our agriculture economy and open more doors for selling Nebraska agriculture products to consumers around the world.

I also held public meetings across the Third District, including Arthur, Elwood, Falls City, Kimball, Neligh, and Wayne. These discussions covered many different topics, from tax reform to trade to health care. It was abundantly clear Nebraskans are ready for relief from our broken tax code and health care system and also want to see our country pursue strong trade policies.

In Congress, we remain committed to pursuing tax reform this fall. Speaker Paul Ryan stated at the start of September we want Americans to wake up on New Year’s Day 2018 with a new tax system. The conversation has shifted from whether tax reform will happen this year to what it will look like, which is a positive step forward. Simplifying our tax code is the best way to grow our economy, and both President Trump and Congress are making it the top priority.

As a member of the Ways and Means Committee, I also continue to push for more opportunity for Nebraska exporters to sell their products around the world. Renegotiation among the United States, Canada, and Mexico on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is underway, and I am optimistic producers can benefit from modernizations as long as the current market access granted to U.S. exporters through NAFTA remains the baseline.

There were recent concerns about the Trump administration pulling the U.S. out of KORUS, our trade agreement with South Korea. I opposed withdrawal, both for the health of our economy, as South Korea is an important trading partner, and from a geopolitical perspective. We cannot afford to damage our relationship with this important ally, especially given the dangerous advancements in North Korea’s nuclear program. Thankfully, it has been reported the Trump administration plans to uphold the agreement.

Many Nebraskans are understandably concerned about health care, as the impacts of Obamacare continue to worsen. We worked through the process in the House to put forth a bill which would lower premiums while still making sure those with pre-existing conditions have access to care. We need the Senate to move forward so we can come together and provide relief. New legislative solutions are being discussed, and I will be carefully considering all the details.

The list of issues we have to tackle in Congress goes on, but the time I was able to spend with Nebraskans in August was immensely valuable. Thank you for taking the time to meet with me and share your thoughts on the challenges facing our country.