American families continue to reap the benefits of the first major reform of the tax code in 31 years. Four million workers received bonuses, consumer confidence hit an 18-year-high, and 102 utility companies have announced that they will cut their rates, saving consumers $3 billion.
THE BENEFITS OF TAX REFORM INCLUDED...
CREATING OPPORTUNITY ZONES
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act included the creation of "Opportunity Zones." More than 8,000 low-income communities across the nation have been designated as “opportunity zones” to encourage investment and job creation. Under the program outlined by Senator Tim Scott, #OpportunityZones will bring hope and prosperity to communities across the country that are filled with potential. The final zones are now certified and the Treasury is working on finalizing the rules to give clarity to those looking to invest.
ESTABLISHING PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Also with the passage of Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the Senate Republicans passed the first United States, nation-wide paid family leave program. Championed by Senator Deb Fischer (NE), the paid family leave plan offers flexibility for different types of families to meet their needs, whether that's taking care of a child or caring for an elderly parent.
Thanks to tax and regulatory relief, the economy is strong and growing with more than 4 million jobs created since November 2016. At 3.9%, the unemployment rate is near an 18-year low. Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law, the economy has created more than 1.6 million jobs. There are now more job openings than there are job hunters in the United States.
For the first time ever, there are actually more job openings than there are unemployed people who are looking for work. According to the Labor Department, there are now 6.9 million job openings across the country, and only 6.3 million job hunters.
Senator Steve Daines (MT) talks about the effect of tax reform at home in Montana. Since the passage of tax reform, over 600 companies have announced bonuses, wage increases, and other benefits for over 4 million workers.
SMALL BUSINESSES ARE GROWING
Senator Pat Toomey (PA) discusses how local businesses in Pennsylvania are seeing the positive effects of tax reform. Businesses are growing and hiring.
SPURRING ECONOMIC GROWTH
Major economic indicators and manufacturer confidence continue to rise. Driven in part by investment encouraged by the tax law, economic growth for the second quarter of 2018 may hit 4.7 percent, according to the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank.
Senate Republican Policy Chairman, Senator John Barrasso (WY) speaks to local business owners and constituents at home about the growing economy.
HELPING MAIN STREET GROW
The Dodd-Frank Actwas enacted in 2010 following the financial crisis in an attempt to reduce systemic risks the financial sector posed to the economy.
The law contained a number of provisions recommended by the Treasury Department, including one that simplifies complex risk-based capital requirements for community banks in excellent financial shape and one that exempts smaller banks from the complicated Volcker rule governing their investments.
SECURING THE JUDICIARY
The Senate has confirmed 26 circuit judges nominated by President Trump – the most in the first two years of any presidency in the past 40 years. A little more than one in eight of the 164 active circuit court judges has been appointed by President Trump.
Senate Majority Leader Senator Mitch McConnell, Chairman of Finance Committee Senator Chuck Grassley, and Senator Ben Sasse speak to the importance of judicial nominees. Video by Senate Republican Conference.
RESHAPING THE JUDICIARY
Confirming qualified circuit court judges has been a priority of Senate Republicans. President Trump has already appointed 26 out of the 165 active circuit court judges – a bit more than one in eight. Senate Republicans continue to work with the Trump administration to confirm qualified judges who rule based on what the law and Constitution require, rather than their policy preferences.
CONFIRMING JUSTICE GORSUCH
COMMON SENSE HEALTH CARE
PATIENTS GIVEN “RIGHT TO TRY”
Congress passed right-to-try legislation to allow terminally ill patients access to experimental medical treatments not yet approved by the FDA. A patient with a terminal illness is now able to use treatments that have passed the first phase of the FDA approval process.
OBAMACARE’S INDIVIDUAL MANDATE REPEALED
Congress repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate, as of 2019. The Independent Payment Advisory Board, Obamacare’s ineffective and bureaucratic body of unelected officials tasked with recommending ways to cut Medicare spending, was also repealed.
LEGISLATION TO ADDRESS OPIOIDS CRISIS PASSED
Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental deaths for Americans under age 50. Last year, more than 72,000 Americans died due to drug overdoses, a 1o percent increase from a year earlier – 49,000 of these were related to opioids. In September, responding to the growing opioids crisis, the Senate passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. The bill included proposals to reform Medicare, Medicaid, and family services programs, providing treatment and recovery support services for beneficiaries with substance abuse problems. It increased access to addiction treatment medications.
Our troops are about to receive a 2.6% across-the-board pay raise, their highest pay raise in more than ten years. Republicans in Congress have made funding our military and protecting the nation a top priority. Earlier this year, Congress agreed to an increase of $165 billion over two years for our military. This is a significant investment in our military and the largest budget increase for defense in 15 years.
CARING FOR VETERANS
President Trump and Republicans in Congress have worked together to provide quality health care for disabled veterans. The VA MISSION Act will put veterans first and allow them to receive health care from doctors in the VA and in their community without having to clear unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles. Veterans are also benefitting from a great economy - veteran unemployment is down to 3.8 percent.
MEETING WITH TROOPS ABROAD
Senator Jerry Moran(KS) discusses meeting with troops in Afghanistan and the importance of supporting the men and women of our armed services.
CONFIRMING VA LEADERSHIP
In July of 2018, the Senate confirmed Robert Wilkie to Secretary of Veterans Affairs. Wilkie has extensive experience, including as the Defense Department’s undersecretary for personnel and readiness responsible for health care and benefits for 9.4 million troops, family members, and retirees. In the video above, Senator John Boozman(AR) speaks in support of Wilkie to serve as VA Secretary.
Iran for its ballistic missile and weapons of mass destruction programs,
Russia for theircyber hacking, corruption, and attempts to influence both the United States andEurope, and
North Korea for itsuse of convict labor and human rights violations as well as those governmentsand entities who assist North Korea in violating UN resolutions.
In the video above, Senator Cory Gardner (CO) of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses the importance of imposing these sanctions.
The Taylor Force Act was passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in August of 2017 and signed into law March of 2018. The Taylor Force Act disincentivizes payments to terrorists. It calls on Palestinian Authority's to stop making payments to terrorists and families of deceased terrorists, and restricts U.S. economic aid to the West Bank and Gaza until the Palestinian Authority stops paying terrorists guilty of violence against Israelis and Americans.
STRIKING, STREAMLINING, AND SIMPLIFYING REGULATIONS
Republicans have racked up an impressive record of accomplishment in rolling back federal regulations. Over the past 19 months, Republicans have saved Americans at least $50 billion and 16 million hours of paperwork. Taxes have been cut and simplified, some of Obamacare’s heaviest burdens have been lifted, and energy production is expanded – all producing the strongest economy in years.
Congress passed 16 Congressional Review Act resolutions to repeal or block Obama-era regulations, accounting for $36 billion of the savings. Trump administration actions saved an additional $8 billion in 2017, and $6 billion so far in 2018. The administration’s proposed future deregulatory actions could save more than $175 billion.
Noteworthy deregulatory actions:
Reforming Dodd-Frank: In May 2018, Republicans scaled back some of Dodd-Frank’s most onerous regulations on smaller lenders. This allows smaller banks and credit unions to use more of their capital for loans to families and businesses while preserving consumer protections and rules to maintain the stability and soundness of the financial system.
Repealing Net Neutrality: With the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, the FCC overturned utility-style regulations on the internet. Under President Obama, the FCC gave itself the authority to set rates and impose requirements on internet service providers. The new rules reinstate a “light-touch” regulatory framework that had worked well for decades.
Providing Estate Tax Relief: In October 2017, the Trump administration withdrew a burdensome rule that would have imposed higher taxes on family-owned businesses. The Obama administration had proposed limiting the use of discounted valuations, making it more difficult for a family to pass its businesses on to future generations.
Cutting and Simplifying Taxes: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act cut every tax bracket for individuals and families, letting them keep more of their own money instead of giving it to Washington. The law nearly doubled the standard deduction and simplified taxes for 95 percent of Americans who do not have to itemize deductions.
"Over the past 19 months, Republicans have saved Americans at least $50 billion and 16 million hours of paperwork."
Reducing Medicare Costs: The Trump administration has issued a new rule for in-patient hospital Medicare payments. It removes 18 reporting requirements and “de-duplicates” another 25, resulting in the elimination of more than 2 million administrative hours for hospitals.
Eliminating the Individual Mandate: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act repealed the individual mandate requiring Americans to purchase and maintain health care coverage or pay a tax. Beginning in 2019, the tax penalty of $695 per adult or 2.5 percent of household income will no longer burden American taxpayers.
Expanding Short-Term Health Plans: The administration rolled back restrictions on short-term coverage options. These affordable alternatives can now provide coverage for a full year. The new rule is expected to help 2 million previously uninsured Americans get coverage.
Encouraging Association Health Plans: In June, the Labor Department issued a ruleto allow small businesses and the self-employed to join association health plans. These plans are free from Obamacare regulations, making them an affordable option. CBOestimates that 4 million Americans will seek this option, including 400,000 people who currently lack coverage.
Streamlining Purchase of Commercial Items: The Defense Department implemented a new rule to make it easier for the military to buy commercial items from nontraditional defense contractors. This will reduce paperwork burdens by more than 25 percent.
Simplifying Small Business Subcontracting: In April 2018, the Defense Department implemented a rule making it easier for businesses to manage subcontracting plans with the department. The rule will allow a business with multiple contracts to manage its subcontracting plans together, saving $30 million in unnecessary compliance costs.
Fighting WOTUS: The administration proposed repealing the Obama administration’s excessively broad definition of “waters of the United States” that threatened to dramatically increase the regulatory burden on farmers and ranchers. While a lawsuit is ongoing, EPA will provide regulatory certainty with a new, clearer rule in coming months.
Opening Federal Waters for Drilling: In January, the Interior Department proposed opening nearly all offshore waters owned by the federal government to oil and gas leases. This could open as much as $218 billion in energy reserves.
STRENGTHENING CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION
THE JUSTICE SERVED ACT
Majority Whip, Senator John Cornyn'sJustice Served Act, funds the prosecution of cold cases solved through DNA evidence like backlogged rape kits. The bill has been passed by both houses and is on its way to the President’s desk. Once law, violent perpetrators will be brought to justice instead of remaining on our streets.
Human Trafficking Survivor Tax Relief Act
In late September, Senator John Cornyn (TX) also introduced the bipartisan Human Trafficking Survivor Tax Relief Act. The proposed legislation would exempt human trafficking survivors from paying federal income taxes on civil damages and restitution – because the last thing survivors should expect is to get stuck with a bill from the IRS.
RESTORING REGULAR ORDER
Republicans are acting to restore regular order for appropriations, with this year’s Bipartisan Budget Act paving the way.
Among the important appropriations packages was an agriculture funding bill. In August 2018, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2019 Agriculture appropriations bill. Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committee Senator John Hoeven(ND) introduced the legislation and spoke on the Senate floor about the importance of investing taxpayer dollars responsibly and funding programs that provide direct benefits to farmers and rural communities.
INTRODUCING A BETTER FARM BILL
IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY
INTRODUCING SCHOOL SAFETY LEGISLATION
In March 2018, Senators introduced the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act of 2018, bipartisan legislation to address school violence. The legislation aims to address school violence by funding school security improvements and invest in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it happens.