The Senate is at work for the American people
Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 5, 2016
Under open procedures, the Republican-led Senate has compiled an extensive list of bipartisan accomplishments during the 114th Congress.
This momentum shows no signs of slowing. Simply put, the Senate is at work for the American people.
Republicans Promised to Restore Order
Just this year, lawmakers have enacted bills to fight the opioid crisis, protect intellectual property, and impose new sanctions on North Korea. Most recently, Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly voted in support of the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and passed the first comprehensive energy bill since 2007.
The long-awaited “Energy Policy Modernization Act” would update energy policies in ways that reflect today’s energy landscape. Instead of putting more onerous regulations on America’s energy producers, this bill would support job creation and lower energy bills through the use of technology and innovation.
Bipartisan victories are the product of extensive deliberation and debate. Resolving differences is not always easy, but consensus is possible when lawmakers have the opportunity to voice their ideas and vote on amendments. When voted into the majority in 2014, Republicans promised to restore order to the lawmaking process after years of gridlock. Since then, a significant number of bills have been signed into law on a bipartisan basis.
Getting Appropriations Bills Done on Time
In the coming weeks, the Senate will debate this year’s appropriations bills – an important process for cutting government waste and ensuring the efficient use of taxpayer dollars. These bills outline discretionary spending at levels consistent with the budget agreement passed last year – and lower than the President’s budget. The energy and water appropriations bill, passed unanimously in committee, is already under consideration on the Senate floor.
Every year, the Senate is supposed to pass 12 appropriations bills before the start of the next fiscal year on October 1.
This is the earliest that the full Senate has considered an appropriations bill since the “Budget Act of 1974.” Under Chairman Thad Cochran’s leadership, the Appropriations Committee is well on its way to fulfilling this annual responsibility. Last year was the first time in six years that every appropriations bill was reported out of committee.
Bipartisan Efforts in the Works
Other bipartisan and bicameral efforts are gaining steam. For example, the Senate and House of Representatives are currently working to find agreement on reforms to chemical safety rules. The legislation would be a much-anticipated update to the 1976 “Toxic Substances Control Act” and follow years of hard work to protect Americans from harmful chemicals.
The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee is working on a proposal known as the “Biomedical Innovation Initiative” to invigorate groundbreaking medical research and expedite drug approvals. Last year, the House passed its version of the bill, called the “21st Century Cures Act,” which would achieve many of the same goals. I look forward to seeing these efforts progress, and I am pleased that my bipartisan bill to promote patient engagement in the drug approval process has been included in the Senate proposal. I hope it also paves the way for more work in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, including support for my “EUREKA Act,” which incorporates a prize competition to encourage breakthroughs in research.
Dozens of bills have become law during the 114th Congress, and they are a testament to the work that can be done when regular order replaces dysfunction. Cooperation between Republicans and Democrats is a necessary part of these successes, and it enables lawmakers to serve the American people as they were elected to do.
By Senator Roger Wicker