Last month, the people of Kentucky elected me to be their Senator for the next six years and in the process helped me become Senate Majority Leader. I am deeply honored and humbled by the faith the voters have placed in me.
The message from the electorate in Kentucky and nationwide could not have been more clear: the public wants a change in direction and expects things to get done in Washington. I am pleased to report that just in the past several weeks, I have been able to fight for and secure a number of positive measures to help improve the lives of Kentucky families.
Before adjourning, Congress passed legislation that prevents a retroactive tax increase on many small businesses, farmers and individuals across Kentucky. One of the more important provisions allows small businesses and farmers to expense certain business investments—for instance, the purchase of new equipment—which will help spur economic growth and job creation in the Commonwealth.
Congress also passed a bipartisan bill I was proud to co-sponsor which will assist Kentuckians with disabilities and parents who have children with disabilities. The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE Act, authorizes families to create tax-advantaged savings accounts that can be used for education, housing and transportation expenses for Kentuckians who have family members with disabilities. National Down Syndrome Society Ambassador Lynn Braker of Lexington, Kentucky said of this measure: “This is a monumental, landmark bill for people with Down syndrome and our families. This bill will change the way that families, including mine, will save for all their children and adults with Down syndrome.” The same is equally true for families coping with other disabilities.
I also supported legislation in this Congress which will provide a steadier and more reliable funding stream for America’s veterans programs. We must never forget the noble sacrifices made by our nation’s veterans, and this provision helps us stay true to this pledge.
We also passed a provision that shields Kentucky’s new lawful industrial hemp pilot programs and related university research from interference by the Department of Justice. This is good for our Kentucky farmers who are increasingly looking to hemp as a potential cash crop and job creator. Similarly, another provision I supported blocks the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the burdensome “Waters of the U.S.” regulations on our farmers. Helping to get the Obama administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the back of Kentucky farmers will have a beneficial impact on the economy of our state.
Another provision I supported that became law will ease regulations on those in the coal industry by lifting a ground transportation restriction that negatively impacted the movement of this resource—one way we can help fight the Obama administration’s War on Coal.
In addition to these more broad-based measures, I was proud to support provisions that positively affect specific Kentucky concerns. For example, I helped ensure that National Guard drug interdiction programs, chemical weapons disposal efforts at the Blue Grass Army Depot, and clean-up efforts at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant were all fully funded.
While this is good progress, we have much more to do. After the holidays, a new Republican Congress will take over and move forward to aid our nation’s economy on several fronts, starting with passage of the Keystone XL pipeline bill. This measure will create thousands of new jobs right away. A Republican Senate will redouble efforts to combat the president’s War on Coal. And a Republican Senate will have the opportunity to push back on the president’s unilateral action on immigration and continue the fight to repeal Obamacare, even as we work to address the damage it continues to do to our country and our economy.
Kentuckians know that once I take over as Senate Majority Leader in January, I will continue to vigorously fight for them and their priorities. Until then I wish my fellow Kentuckians a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.