Looking back at 2018
2018 has been a productive year. The economic benefits of tax reform are on display throughout the country with businesses expanding and jobs being created all around us. While there is much left to be done, I’d like to discuss a few of our proudest accomplishments from the past year.
During the week before Christmas, the Senate passed my bill to help our agricultural producers in the Northport Irrigation District. Once signed into law, this bill will allow individual land owners to repay their portion of federal irrigation infrastructure loans instead of paying only the interest as they have for decades. I was pleased to see the House pass it earlier this year and I thank Senator Fischer for her diligent efforts to shepherd it through the Senate.
Earlier in December, President Trump issued a new rule to supplant President Obama’s vastly overreaching WOTUS rule which threatened the productivity of our farmers and ranchers. When President Obama’s EPA first issued the rule, I introduced a joint resolution to repeal it under the Congressional Review Act (CRA) which easily passed both the House and Senate and forced a veto by President Obama. I appreciate President Trump’s efforts to shield our agricultural producers from overregulation and I look forward to putting this problem behind us for good.
President Trump also recently notified Congress of his intent to negotiate a trade agreement to reduce tariffs and other trade barriers between the United States and Japan. I have long called for such negotiations, including through a House resolution I introduced last year, and I look forward to the 116th Congress when I will take over as co-Chair of the U.S. Japan Congressional Caucus. Through this position, I hope to strengthen our ties with Japanese leaders and build support a mutually beneficial agreement between our two nations.
Among our other accomplishments was an amendment to the FAA’s reauthorization bill which will allow several of Nebraska’s airports to continue receiving safety improvement funding. Many of our airports were hurt by pilot shortages likely brought on by increased pilot regulations which caused them to fall below the traffic threshold required for federal safety funding. Enplanements have already begun to increase under new carriers, and my initiative will help to bridge the gap as Nebraska airports rebounds from this setback.
Last year’s tax reform package was a great accomplishment and I was able to address a number of Nebraska concerns in it, such as maintaining full property tax deductions for agricultural land. This year we were able to ensure the equitable treatment of cooperatives and private grain elevators and buyers under the new tax code by eliminating the “Grain Glitch.” Nebraska’s farmers and ranchers deserve to see the same benefits as other businesses under tax reform.
Overall, it was a very productive year, but there is still much to be done to resolve our current trade disputes and level the playing field for our agricultural producers as well as the Nebraska business sector as a whole. I appreciate President Trump’s leadership on many of these issues and look forward to the many things we can accomplish moving forward.