Senator John Boozman's Weekly Column - A Positive Outlook for the 116th Congress

A Positive Outlook for the 116th Congress


Political pundits welcomed the 116th Congress with think pieces on a divided Congress. Can we work together? Can we get things accomplished for the American people? Will there be constant gridlock?


It is understandable that Americans are pessimistic about the chances of much getting done, especially in light of the fact that the new Congress has inherited an ongoing partial government shutdown. Even with that, I believe there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic.


We all want to see the partial shutdown ended sooner rather than later, so we can move forward with the work the American people sent us to do without the specter of a funding battle hanging over the legislative branch. The crisis at our southwest border, however, cannot be ignored. The president’s insistence that Congress provide funding to address it is not an unreasonable demand.


A bipartisan majority of members of Congress have long agreed that in order to secure our homeland we need more infrastructure—including roads for access, electronic devices for surveillance and fencing for deterrence—at our southwest border. The issue has been avoided for too long in Washington. I support the President’s commitment to securing our border and his insistence that Congress follows through with the resources to accomplish this task.


The partial shutdown, however, cannot prevent Congress from completing other important responsibilities. The to-do list for the 116th Congress is long and we must move forward with checking important tasks off it while working to resolve the impasse over border security funding.


My colleagues and I are committed to continuing to build off what we delivered for the American people in the 115th Congress. Over those two years, we passed historic tax reform, rolled back needless regulation and implemented improvements to help Main Street lenders and job creators. We passed a new farm bill that is fair and equitable to the diverse needs of producers across all regions of the country, which will help bring certainty and predictability to farmers and ranchers across the country. We also approved an upgrade to our nation’s water infrastructure, help for families struggling with opioid abuse and a number of bills that will help our veterans.


The majority of these accomplishments were completed in a bipartisan manner, which is why I remain confident that we can continue down that path despite the fact that two different parties control the House of Representatives and the Senate. Those looking for an example of how to find common-ground should look no further than the important work Congress does for our veterans. The Veterans Affairs’ Committee in both chambers of Congress is traditionally the most bipartisan in Washington. I anticipate that will continue to be the case in the 116th Congress.


I believe the bipartisan spirit exemplified by the Veterans’ Affairs Committee exists in Congress as a whole. There is a great deal on which Republicans and Democrats can find agreement. Which is good news as there is plenty of work to be done. From implementation of the farm bill to major upgrades of our infrastructure, there are big ticket items ripe for bipartisan passage ahead of us.


I am familiar with serving during a time of divided government throughout the majority of my time in Washington. There have certainly been disagreements and challenges, but we were able to get quite a lot accomplished for the American people during those years. I believe we can continue to move our country forward during the 116th Congress.


1-4-19 5:06 p.m. kawx.org