Congress Ends Term with Legislative Victories
As the sun sets on the 114th Congress, I’m proud to report some noteworthy legislative victories: the Iran Sanctions Act extension, the National Defense Authorization Act, and the 21st Century Cures Act each received final passage by the House and the Senate and are set to become law. Each of these bills faced significant legislative hurdles over the past year or more, and I’m pleased we were able to come together and secure final passage before the year’s end.
These bills have something else in common: they each saw opposition from the White House at some point, including veto threats from President Obama. In the end, both the House and Senate were able to build broad bipartisan coalitions to secure the kind of majorities that all but ensure the president will sign these crucial bills into law.
As I’ve previously written, the Iran Sanctions Act (ISA) reauthorization extends for ten years some of our nation’s most meaningful tools for keeping Iran and its ambitious weapons program in check. Now more than ever, we need to keep the upper hand with Iran, and these sanctions will better position the incoming Trump Administration to do just that.
I’ve also written about how the 21st Century Cures Act will provide funding and policy improvements to help battle rare diseases, fight our nation’s opioid epidemic, and improve mental health care. Once signed into law, it will enable our country to make real progress towards finding cures for the millions who suffer from various cancers, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other rare, deadly diseases.
As you may know, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is annual legislation that authorizes funding and policy for our military. In most years, enacting the NDAA has been a smooth process. In fact, for 55 consecutive years Congress has successfully passed and the president has signed the NDAA. However, disagreements over certain policies and the veto threat from the White House put this year’s bill in jeopardy.
As someone who represents a district home to Fort Rucker and Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, I’m particularly pleased we were able to overcome these difficulties and deliver this crucial bill. Article I, Section VII of the Constitution instructs Congress to “provide for the common defense,” and the NDAA enables us to fulfill that responsibility. The bill ensures that our service men and women have the tools and resources necessary to do their jobs and keep Americans safe. I’m also especially proud that this year’s bill includes a much deserved pay raise for our troops.
In addition to these critical bills, Congress passed a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep our government running through the new year. Instead of a making a full Fiscal Year 2017 Appropriations bill, Congress opted to simply extend current spending policies into the new year to maintain government operations, allowing President-elect Trump to have a say in next year’s budget decisions. I’m optimistic that we can work together to rein in wasteful government spending and ensure more responsible and transparent use of tax dollars.
I’m pleased that 114th Congress is ending on a positive note with passage of meaningful legislation that will make a difference for the American people. Looking ahead, I’m excited about all the new possibilities as a unified Republican government assumes office next year.