Here are 5 things to watch for in 2017

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 4, 2017

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

In 2017, Republicans will have control of the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives. This is a rare situation that has happened only 16 times the past 100 years.

Under a unified Republican government, there is great potential for important reforms.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Here are five areas where I hope to see progress in 2017:

1. Health Care Relief – Far too many American families are suffering under the ill-conceived Affordable Care Act. A top priority must be to repeal this disastrous law and begin moving forward with health care reforms that lower costs, boost competition and spur innovation.

Our reforms must center on free-market principles that do not put the federal government between a patient and their doctor. Any updates to our nation’s health care law must ensure that people with pre-existing conditions have access to affordable health and strengthen Medicare for our nation’s seniors.

2. A Stronger Military – Under President Obama, our military has taken a hit and that trend must be reversed. Despite these funding cuts, we continue to ask our military men and women to do more and more.

Under President-elect Trump, I am hopeful we will grow our military in a way that helps project peace through strength. This includes building up our Navy’s fleet with an ultimate goal of at least 350 ships. As we grow our military, we must also focus on spurring innovation to ensure we have the most advanced technology and tools available.

3. Regulatory Reform – Unnecessary and costly government regulations are making it harder for businesses to grow, resulting in higher costs for American consumers. These regulations impact everything from energy to agriculture to labor laws.

Some of these regulations can simply be blocked or repealed by the Trump Administration. Others will require action from Congress. President-elect Trump has already suggested that he will remove two regulations for every one regulation introduced. This type of regulatory reform will go a long way toward boosting economic growth.

4. Immigration Enforcement – Over the last eight years, the Obama Administration has consistently turned a blind eye to our nation’s immigration laws. Instead of enforcing the laws on the books, they have looked for ways around the law. Well, that will change come Jan. 20.

Having a strong immigration enforcement system is critical to our national security, and it must be a top priority. This includes securing our border and halting the flow of illegal immigrants across the border. We must also look at other parts of our immigration system to ensure American workers are being treated fairly.

5. A Simpler Tax Code –The current tax code is far too complicated and confusing, and I have long been an advocate for wholesale tax reform that lowers rates for American families.

Tax reform should make completing your taxes as simple as filling out a postcard sized form. We should also bring down our corporate tax rates, which are among the highest in the world in an effort to spur job creation and keep businesses in the United States. Tax reform is a key part of our efforts to grow the economy.

Certainly, this is not an all-inclusive list and unified Republican government alone will not be enough to achieve these reforms. Under the current Senate rules, most legislation requires 60 votes in order to pass, and Republicans only have 52 Senators. I hope Senate Democrats will agree to work across the aisle to find common ground and advance these reforms.

Our top priority should always be to focus on policies that benefit the American people. By doing that, I believe we can help restore faith in government and make life easier for all Americans.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.