Not even two years into the Trump administration, our country is finally getting back on the right track. On the heels of a major regulatory rollback and historic tax reform, consumer confidence is soaring and unemployment is shrinking. I’m proud of the many promises this Republican Congress has worked closely with President Trump to fulfill for your family, and I would like to update you on our recent work.
The Senate recently passed legislation to bolster our national defense and provide for our men and women in uniform. Named in honor of my friend, Senator John McCain, this bill authorizes the tools that our all-volunteer forces need to confront the challenges of a dangerous world. It also supports our troops with a well-earned pay raise and authorization for more than $150 million in much-needed military construction projects in Kentucky. After harmful Obama-era cuts to our military, we are rebuilding our defense forces and delivering for our servicemembers – including those serving at Fort Knox, Fort Campbell, the Blue Grass Army Depot and in the Kentucky National Guard.
Congress also passed a landmark overhaul of how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) delivers care to our veterans. President Trump identified significant problems within the VA system, which often failed to help those it was designed to serve. He signed the new law to right those wrongs.
The “VA Mission Act” streamlines a number of programs to improve care for our veterans. It funds the Veterans’ Choice Program, giving veterans more flexibility to access care from community health providers when they’re unable to get timely services at the VA. It also creates a new Veterans Community Care program that eliminates restrictions to care based on wait time and distance from a VA facility. Instead, veterans and their doctors can develop a treatment plan centered on their individual health-care needs. Finally, it expands eligibility for the assistance that veterans’ family caregivers can receive through the VA.
In addition, this Republican Congress has fought to untangle the complex web of overly burdensome federal regulations left behind by President Obama that limited financial lending in our communities. For too long, Main Street community banks and credit unions – which many Kentuckians depend on to purchase a home or start a small business – have struggled under the weight of regulations meant for the giant banks of Wall Street. I was proud to prioritize and vote for legislation to overturn regulations that harmed local lenders and deprived Kentuckians of access to financial capital. President Trump recently signed our bill ensuring relief is on the way to many families who rely upon those community financial institutions.
The Senate is also in the personnel business, providing advice and consent on President Trump’s nominees. In addition to those nominations you probably think about most frequently – such as to the president’s Cabinet or to the Supreme Court – confirming President Trump’s nominees to agencies like the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is critical to our pro-growth, pro-family, pro-opportunity agenda. The Obama administration used these organizations to impose unnecessary burdens on our economy and our families. President Trump’s nominees, on the other hand, understand government’s limited role and are getting Washington out of the way of American prosperity.
I am proud of my decision during the 2016 presidential election to let the American people decide who they wanted to appoint the next Supreme Court justice. As a result, the Senate confirmed President Trump’s outstanding nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch. This Senate has also confirmed many of President Trump’s other amply-qualified federal judicial nominees, including 21 circuit court judges and 20 district court judges. These new federal judges – six of whom are from Kentucky – will interpret the law and the Constitution as written for years to come.
These are just a few of the many accomplishments this Republican government has delivered for our nation. Because I decided to cancel the Senate’s August recess, President Trump and I will have more time to continue our work – such as supporting our military, combating the opioid crisis and confirming more nominees. We can continue to produce results for Kentuckians and deliver on promises we made to the people of this nation.