Sometimes the noise drowns out the good news.
And it certainly is right now. It would be hard to fault the average American for thinking all that’s going on in Washington these days is high-drama hearings and partisan sniping. But amid the countdown clocks and cable news chatter, something important is happening: Congress is getting things done to help improve people’s lives.
Here in the House of Representatives, we can do more than one thing at a time. And the truth is, even while carrying out our oversight responsibilities, we’ve been delivering on our promises to the American people. We are passing important legislation. We are doing our job.
You just may not have heard about it.
Here’s an example. Remember the rampant scandals that plagued the Department of Veterans Affairs during the Obama years? In 2013, it was uncovered that dozens of veterans died waiting for medical care that never came. Mismanagement and corruption was uncovered at every level of the agency.
We promised that we would fix it and finally take care of our veterans. And last week, after years of work, Congress came together to send the president the biggest reform of the VA since its inception. Now the law of the land, this bipartisan legislation brings lasting accountability to the VA. It makes it easier to demote, suspend, and fire VA officials for misconduct or poor performance. It empowers the new VA Secretary to appoint permanent medical directors to make sure our veterans get the care they need.
Chances are you heard about the scandal, and not last week’s important fix. But nonetheless, this Republican government is showing we can get big things done.
That’s not the only example of Republicans and Democrats working together to fix a problem. Just last week, the House passed bipartisan legislation to expand career and technical education opportunities. This is a jobs bill that will allow people to get the skills they need through apprenticeships and trade work. It will help put America back to work.
We’re also following through on our promise to rein in Washington and repeal Obama-era regulations. Little noticed, we have sent the president 14 bills using a tool called the Congressional Review Act, completely wiping away some of the worst regulations President Obama put in place toward the end of his term, ranging from energy to education. These repeal bills are now law, which means those Obama regulations have been struck from the books—forever.
And look at the Financial CHOICE Act. While the focus in Washington was on a big Senate hearing earlier this month, the House passed this legislation that reins in Obama’s costly Dodd-Frank regulation. It repeals “too big to fail,” which left taxpayers on the hook for far too long. It relieves community banks and helps families and small businesses get the loans they need to thrive. This bill will bring hope back to Main Street.
Our wins on national security have been just as strong. In our bill to fund the government, Congress finally broke the harmful Obama-era precedent of matching defense spending with non-defense spending. In other words, we are able to rebuild our military and protect our borders while shielding taxpayer dollars from funding domestic programs that simply don’t work. But you probably didn’t hear about those breakthroughs, either.
Despite these challenges, we are not slowing down. I can’t promise that you will see it on TV or on Twitter, but this week the House will vote on landmark legislation to strengthen enforcement of our immigration laws. One of these, Kate’s Law, is named after Kate Steinle, who was murdered by an illegal immigrant in 2015. Her killer had previously been deported five times, but found safe haven in the sanctuary city of San Francisco. This bill increases penalties for illegal immigrants who return to the United States, and a second measure cracks down on sanctuary cities to prevent more senseless tragedies like these.
These are real wins—not for ourselves, not for our party, but for real people. Good policy is the business of improving lives. And for me, good policy has always trumped petty politics. When people’s lives are changed for the better, even when it’s not reported, we’ve done our job.
Amidst the noise, the People’s House will continue to fulfill the promises we made to the American public.