I spent many years running onto football fields on gamedays across the country and can say nothing beats the feeling of a new season.
As seasons came and went, I continually worked with my team and coaching staff to learn from previous successes and failures. Reflecting on the past allowed us to find room for growth and build the foundation to shape future goals. This strategy doesn’t just apply to football, but to government as well. As we enter the 118th Congress and start a new season in the United States Senate, I am proud of our efforts so far, but I know there’s more to be done for the people of Alabama.
In the previous Congress, I focused on bolstering our national security, empowering veterans, supporting rural communities, countering Chinese aggression and advocating for students.
Keeping Americans safe is the federal government’s top priority — a responsibility I take seriously. Safety and peace are only secured through strength, and a prepared, lethal military is the best way to protect freedom at home and promote stability abroad. I fought to uphold Alabama’s long-standing history of military excellence, honoring the men and women who play a vital role in our national security.
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I participated in drafting the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Congress has passed this bill annually for over six decades to fund our military. In this year’s NDAA, we secured dozens of wins for Alabama. The NDAA increases the overall military budget $45 billion more than President Biden’s request, secures a 4.6% pay raise for service members and Department of Defense civilian workers, and rescinds the Biden administration’s COVID vaccine mandate for service members.
In October, my first piece of standalone legislation became law after passing both chambers of Congress without opposition. The Supporting Families of the Fallen Act increased veterans’ and service members’ maximum life insurance benefit amounts for the first time since 2005. As a member of the Senate Veteran Affairs’ Committee, I will always fight for our country’s veterans and military-connected community, which includes advocating for legislation to increase timely access to quality care and slash bureaucratic red tape at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Throughout my first term, I also championed family farmers and producers, working hand-in-hand with Alabama’s rural communities. I led the effort to make Daylight Saving Time permanent and supported the peanut capital of the world by reducing trade barriers and expanding export market access for peanut exports to the European Union. Serving on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, I worked to protect our rural farming communities by cutting burdensome regulations for local governments, fighting the Biden administration’s overreaching Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) regulations and standing up for Alabama’s agricultural producers.
As an educator for more than 40 years, I have seen firsthand the benefit of a quality education. I also understand that parents and local governments know their children and communities better than the federal government. As part of my work on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, I advocated for school choice.
All the while, I kept one eye on the growing threats on the world stage. There is no doubt that China is our most threatening adversary. Their unmitigated aggression and growing economic influence in America jeopardize peace and our way of life. I safeguarded American interests by pushing to ban all 93 million members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from obtaining visas for vacation and non-official government business, and worked to ban the CCP from purchasing American farmland. Alabama currently has the third-highest amount of foreign-owned agricultural land in the U.S. — this is unacceptable. Allowing China to undermine our farmers is a threat to our food supply and national security.
I am extremely proud of our accomplishments during the 117th Congress, but our work is just beginning. I may not be running on to a football field to kick off the 118th Congress, but I’m as excited as ever. I will continue to fight every day to get wins for the Yellowhammer state by empowering our rural communities, advocating for students, supporting our veterans and military families, countering foreign adversaries, and defending principled conservative values.