Republicans have been focused on restoring transparency and regular order in the 114th Congress. Despite having a Democratic White House, we’ve overcome many odds and moved forward many priorities that you have been contacting me about over the years.
Here is a brief look back at what we’ve accomplished:
The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA), which addresses the opioid epidemic ravaging our nation, became law this year. Unfortunately, Oklahoma knows this problem too well. In 2014 we lost 864 residents to overdose deaths. CARA expands the availability of naloxone, which can save lives, and also gives special attention to programs that will support veterans who have come home with painful injuries, to include requiring all VA employees who prescribe opioids to receive training on pain management and safe prescribing practices.
Republicans took a major step in reforming the education system by passing into law the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). ESSA returns control of our children’s education back to local leaders and ends Common Core, taking federal bureaucrats out of school decisions. I was proud this law reflected many priorities from my bill, the Local School Board Governance and Flexibility Act, written based on your letters and calls.
The FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act of 2016, signed into law this year, reforms bureaucratic inefficiencies and moves forward policy priorities that support Oklahoma’s economy. It included my amendment that will also allow the use of drones by critical infrastructure operators – like oil and gas pipelines or utility grids – to improve safety and respond to natural disasters.
I was proud to author the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, a law that provides $300 billion for the nation’s surface transportation system over five years. The FAST Act is essential to supporting jobs, improving safety and being economically competitive in the global marketplace. The FAST Act also includes the largest single infrastructure investment in Oklahoma’s history.
Republicans also passed historic environmental regulatory reform by modernizing the Toxic Substances Control Act. As the committee chairman with jurisdiction over the legislation, it was a privilege to work with all parties to make this a conservative victory that supports interstate commerce of chemicals and enhances global competitiveness of American products while also protecting consumers’ health.
Last year, Republicans passed Congressional Review Acts (CRA) to overturn three regulations written by the Obama administration’s EPA: two rules under the Clean Power Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. While the president vetoed the CRAs, our oversight of these regulations made a public case questioning the regulations’ legality, and the courts have responded by blocking implementation of the rules until litigation concludes.
We also passed legislation to repeal ObamaCare, to defund Planned Parenthood, to keep Guantanamo Bay open and detainees from returning to the battlefield, and to approve the Keystone Pipeline. Despite these issues being vetoed by President Obama, Congress’ action shows where a new administration with a Republican-majority Congress can take our nation.
Republicans have achieved meaningful reforms and accomplished critical objectives for the American people. I hope the American people will be encouraged and will give Republicans their vote of confidence to continue this majority and this trend in the next Congress.
About the author: U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) is the senior U.S. senator from the state of Oklahoma, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, and senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.