One of my favorite times of the year farming was the day we started to put the seed in the ground, because on that day, the seed had every opportunity to produce a high-yielding harvest. The next few months would require hard work to help that seed mature – and we’d need to pray that factors outside our control would cooperate as well – but that was all yet to come; planting was a day of hope and opportunity.
Each new year, we find that same sense of optimism about what’s to come, and perhaps nowhere is that truer for 2017 than in Washington, D.C., where the new year will bring a new Congress, a new administration, and a new hope for the future.
The repeal of Obamacare will likely be one of the first seeds planted in 2017. For years, our efforts have been shut down by Senate Democrats or vetoed by the president, but we now have a path to repeal. At the same time, we have been working openly and collaboratively to assemble a replacement for Obamacare that fundamentally decreases the cost of healthcare, increases access and affordability, protects coverage for those with pre-existing conditions and our young people, and gives you the peace of mind that your most intimate financial and health decisions can be made by you with the consult of your doctor.
While the next Farm Bill isn’t expected to be finalized until 2018, the hearing process is expected to begin in 2017. We have already begun writing some of the new policies that ought to be included, but we’ll continue collecting feedback and ideas throughout the next year.
Comprehensive tax reform is another 2017 priority for both Congress and the president-elect. In 2015, I became the first South Dakotan in history to earn a seat on the House Ways and Means Committee, which is the committee that specializes in tax-related reforms. We’ve been focused on writing a new tax code that is simpler, fairer, and more accountable than the one that exists today.
President-elect Trump and Congress also have fixing the regulatory environment at the top of our New Year’s resolution lists. Some of these regulations can be repealed by the administration acting alone. Others will require congressional action. Either way, it’s a must-do beginning this January.
We will also continue our efforts to reform the Indian Health Service, expand the Black Hills National Cemetery, keep the D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery open, increase support for the Lewis & Clark rural water project, maintain services at the Hot Springs VA Hospital, and ensure anti-human trafficking efforts have the support they need. Supporting the administration on national security and border security issues will also be a priority.
There is plenty of work to be done to make sure these seeds of opportunity produce a harvest in 2017, but I am encouraged by the outlook. This New Year, I hope you too can find the hope and optimism that defines this season. On behalf of my entire family, I wish you the best in 2017.