We got things done in 2017

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 3, 2018

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

As we head into 2018, I want to take a minute to look back at some of the highlights from a very busy and productive 2017.

2017 marked the start of a new era in Washington, D.C. as President Donald Trump was sworn into office. With the House and the Senate both in Republican hands, this led to the rare occurrence of a totally unified federal government.

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In January, I was named chairman of the House Workforce Protections Subcommittee. In this role, I’ve worked to end policies that benefit big labor bosses at the expense of American workers. For example, a bill I wrote repealing a flawed OSHA regulation was signed into law by President Trump.

I introduced the Full Choice for Veterans Act in February. The bill would allow every veteran to receive care from doctors and hospitals in their local communities instead of being forced into the broken VA system. This was just one of many steps in 2017 to help those who have served our country.

In April, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch has already proven to be a capable addition and his confirmation was critical to ensuring a conservative majority on the court.

In May, I voted in favor of the American Health Care Act, which would have repealed Obamacare and replaced it with a market-based plan that wasn’t run by the federal government. Unfortunately, the Senate failed to pass a health care bill, so the efforts to fix our broken health care system will continue into 2018.

After getting the unwelcome news about a Red Snapper season that would only last three days, I went to work with my Gulf Coast colleagues to make things right. Working with the Department of Commerce, we were able to arrange for a 39-day Red Snapper season, the longest season in recent years. This was an important win for our fishermen and coastal communities.

In June, the House unanimously passed a bill to support career and technical education, representing a big bipartisan victory. Improving career and technical education programs is the most important thing Congress can do to help close the skills gap, combat poverty and put Americans back to work.

Another big victory for 2017 was passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for an increase in defense funding and authorizes the construction of three more Littoral Combat Ships (LCS). As you know, the LCS are the Navy ships built right here in Mobile.

In August, I hosted Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos in Mobile to show off the fantastic education programs in our area. Secretary DeVos was very impressed by our local schools, teachers and students, and I look forward to working with her in 2018 to continue improving education in America.

Fixing our broken immigration system was also a top focus. For example, the House has passed bills to cut off funding to sanctuary cities, build a wall on the southern border, and increase penalties for individuals for repeatedly enter our country illegally.

Finally, we ended 2017 with a major victory when we passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. This bill represents the first major overhaul of our tax code since 1986, and it will result in lower taxes and more money in the pockets of hardworking families in Alabama and around the country.

All told, the House has passed over 450 bills in 2017. It was a busy and productive year, but there is no doubt that much work lies ahead.

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