By Congressman Bradley Byrne
Last week, we recapped major highlights from the past year, so this week I want to look ahead at some of the important things to watch for in 2018.
2018 is an election year, and the midterm elections for all House members and the one-third of the United States Senate will be held in November. I expect a very busy legislative session in the run-up to the midterms.
A big thing to watch will be the continued growth of the American economy. From cutting back regulations to reforming our tax code, the conditions are ripe for the economy to continue to boom. Our tax reform bill alone is expected to result in higher wages, greater investment in the economy, and more money in the pockets of hardworking Alabamians.
On the international front, North Korea most certainly bears watching. Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s rogue leader, continues to threaten violence as he builds up his country’s nuclear weapon programs. Given the substantial number of U.S. military personnel stationed in South Korea, and North Korea’s advancing weapons programs, this is a very real and serious threat.
President Trump and Secretary of Defense James Mattis continue to take necessary steps to ensure the United States is prepared should North Korea act. In the meantime, it is important we continue to use diplomatic and economic tools to put pressure on the rogue regime. It is also important that China do more to hold North Korea accountable.
Along the same lines, a top priority for me early in 2018 is to secure adequate funding for our nation’s military. Budget cuts over the last five years have really hurt our nation’s military and decreased our overall readiness. A strong and capable military is the best tool for peace. I will continue fighting to increase military funding for our service men and women.
President Trump has made clear that infrastructure is a top priority for him in 2018, and I share that priority. Here in Southwest Alabama, we have several projects that need attention. The biggest project is the need for a new I-10 bridge over the Mobile River, but there are other major projects deserving attention like Highway 98 in Mobile County, Highway 45 in Washington County, Highway 84 in Monroe and Clarke counties, and Highway 181 on the Eastern Shore.
Infrastructure improvements are not limited to just road projects. We have also seen a lot of positive developments at the Port of Mobile over the last few years, and I look forward to working with Senator Richard Shelby and other leaders to continue making improvements to the Port, which greatly increases our area’s economic potential.
I have also heard from numerous people about the future of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in 2018. In Alabama, our CHIP program is known as All Kids. I am a huge supporter of the program, and I firmly expect the program to continue in 2018 and beyond. The House has already passed a bill to reauthorize CHIP for five years, and I anticipate the issue will be resolved early this year.
We will also need to pass a new Farm Bill in 2018, which is vitally important for our local farmers and foresters. Agriculture remains the top industry in Alabama, and I look forward to doing my part to ensure the Farm Bill is good for Southwest Alabama.
These are just a few highlights of the major things to look for in 2018. As we work through our business, I encourage you to stay informed on my website at Byrne.House.Gov.