Wicker looks ahead to Senate agenda as critical deadlines approach

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 7, 2017

By U.S. Senator Roger Wicker 

During the first week of August, the Senate confirmed 76 executive nominees.  To put that number into perspective, only 56 of President Trump’s 283 nominees had been confirmed over the course of the year before that week.  At that slow pace, Senate confirmations for this Administration would have taken 11 years to complete.

This brief return to regular order reveals just how much Senate Democrats have obstructed the confirmation process this year, leaving critical government positions unfilled. 

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I hope these partisan tactics do not continue into the fall, when a number of pressing legislative items need the full attention of the Senate.

Mississippi Priorities Represented in FAA Bill

One of these items is the reauthorization of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which would expire at the end of September without congressional action. The FAA provides important services affecting our airports, air traffic, and air travel experiences.  Senate passage of a four-year reauthorization would offer stability and certainty to the future of these operations. 

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, I sponsored several amendments to the FAA bill, which passed in committee earlier this summer. 

Those provisions would provide federal support for airports in our rural communities, require a review of airline fees, and create an unmanned systems safety research facility at Mississippi State University, which leads the FAA’s Center for Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems.

President Puts Focus on Border Security

In addition to the FAA reauthorization bill, Congress will need to consider Fiscal Year 2018 funding for the federal government and prevent the government from defaulting on its debt.  Unless a new budget deal is reached, spending measures will have to adhere to unrealistically low levels for national defense.

We need to ensure our troops and veterans have the support they need.  The annual defense bill authorizing these budget priorities is ready to be enacted by the full Senate.

During the spending debate for Fiscal Year 2018, a major topic of discussion will be plans for the President’s border wall. 

I have long been an advocate of securing our border with Mexico and believe border security measures are essential to addressing the problem of illegal immigration in our country. I have consistently voted in favor of additional border security.  Reducing illegal crossing into our country is a goal shared by the Administration and a majority in Congress.

As many of you know, the Senate fell one vote short of advancing an Obamacare repeal and replacement plan. Getting this bill done is still a priority for me. I hope the Senate will also act to modernize aging infrastructure and pass major tax reform for the American people. 

These actions would help small businesses and American workers, keeping more money in the economy instead of overseas or in Washington.  Tax cuts would create an environment that incentivizes job growth, innovation, and investment.

Congress has little time for political tactics, given its full agenda.  Instead, the focus should be on results that improve American lives, safeguard national security, and promote prosperity.