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Congressman Comer column: My first year in Congress

In Opinion, State by OC Monitor StaffLeave a Comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the Ohio County Monitor.

By: Rep. James Comer
U.S. Representative, First District of Kentucky

WASHINGTON D.C. — On November 14, 2016, I was sworn in as the new representative for Kentucky’s 1st District. That night on the House floor, I said, “It is an honor of a lifetime to join in this great legislative body.” While it seems like yesterday that I made my journey to Capitol Hill, one year has passed and we have made great progress for our country. As we approach the end of November, I am thrilled to look back at what we have accomplished.

As a new Member of Congress, one of my top priorities was to stay connected with constituents back home. I made a promise to visit each county in my district by the end of the year. Kentuckians know that it is not easy to get from one end of the 1st District to the other, but I am proud to say that I kept my promise. Crisscrossing my way throughout our 250-mile-wide district, I made 130 visits back to Kentucky and held 35 town hall forums over the past year.

I also wanted to make sure that I remained accessible to my constituents when I was in Washington. One way of accomplishing this goal was by holding community office hours throughout Kentucky. My staff traveled from county to county to provide assistance with issues related to Social Security, the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and other federal programs. Since I took office, my staff and I have helped over 550 individuals in working with agencies and filing and resolving federal casework claims.

Another important responsibility of mine is reading the messages I receive every day from individuals in the First District. Since I have taken office, my staff has fielded 6,436 phone calls and answered 16,140 constituent messages. My office has also held a total of 758 meetings with Kentuckians this past year both in the district and my Washington, D.C. office. Every phone call, message, and meeting greatly influences my decision-making process.

As I met with business owners, elected officials, advocacy organizations, local governments, and community groups, I have heard many insightful ideas about how Congress and the Trump Administration can work to improve lives and Make America Great Again. While I look forward to continuing to work with stakeholders to achieve these goals, I think it is also important to look back at some of the significant legislative accomplishments we have made already.

Because I was sworn in after the special election held in November 2016 for this seat, I was able to vote for the 21st Century Cures Act on November 30, 2016. This legislation will promote new discoveries in medicine and support critical medicine research, especially in combatting opioid abuse in our country.

Several other key votes took place this past year, especially to protect the national security of the United States. Together with President Trump, Congress is working to deter aggressive behavior by our nation’s adversaries, such as North Korea and Iran, whose destabilizing actions threaten our national security and our allies. In passing legislation to impose sanctions and take action against hostile governments, Congress made great strides this past year to protect American interests at home and abroad.

I also made a promise to strengthen our immigration system and border security. I kept this promise by voting for Kate’s Law, which sets enhanced prison sentences for illegal immigrants who continually return to the U.S. and commit crimes, and the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act, which imposes penalties on sanctuary cities that refuse to cooperate with immigration officials – both of which passed the House of Representatives this year.

When I came to Congress, I vowed to continue my fervent support for pro-life policies. I was particularly happy to cast my vote for legislation that prohibits taxpayer-funded abortions and for the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which makes it a crime to perform an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy – the age at which medical evidence has shown an unborn child can feel pain. Passage of this bill in the House was a major step forward in the fight to protect life.

In addition, I worked hard to introduce not one, but two bills this session in Congress: the EQUALS Act, to improve federal workforce hiring, and the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, to end classification of industrial hemp as a drug. This will provide an abundance of new opportunities for agricultural and industrial growth, and allow American farmers to become market leaders in researching, cultivating, and manufacturing industrial hemp. I am excited to see the benefits each of my bills will have in the areas of federal workforce policy and agribusiness.

Another great milestone was passing tax reform in the House. For the first time in over 30 years, we have the chance to fundamentally reform the tax code so it can work for small businesses, families, and Americans across the board. In Kentucky, this plan is estimated to create 13,000 new jobs and raise after-tax income for middle-income families by almost $2,000, while also lowering the tax rate significantly for our small business owners. Passing the Tax Reform and Jobs Act is a critical piece of President Trump’s agenda that will help restore economic growth and prosperity for all Americans.

Looking back at what has been accomplished this past year, I am proud to be working toward the goals President Trump outlined for our nation; strengthening our foreign policy, enforcing border security and immigration laws, and replacing an outdated tax code with one that is pro-growth. I am grateful to the people of the First District of Kentucky who have allowed me to serve in this tremendous position, and I am eager to head into the second session of the 115th Congress with their needs foremost in mind.

Rep. James Comer is a United States Congressman for the First Congressional District, which spans from south central Kentucky to the river counties of far western Kentucky. Contact him with any questions or concerns in his Washington D.C. office at (202) 225-3115, in the Tompkinsville Regional Office at (270) 487-9509, in the Paducah Regional Office at (270) 408-1865, or schedule an appointment in the Madisonville Office by calling (270) 487-9509.

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