Weekly Republican Address
Colorado Senator Cory Gardner
Saturday, December 31, 2016
Hi, I’m Cory Gardner and I’m proud to represent the Rocky Mountain state of Colorado in the United States Senate.
It’s been a busy and exciting year marked by numerous bipartisan achievements. From the passage of the first long-term highway bill in nearly two decades to securing funding to fight the Zika virus, the Republican majority has proven that it can put politics aside and deliver real accomplishments to the American people.
That includes providing our Armed Forces with some of the resources it needs at a time when we are facing evolving security threats at home and around the globe. We also approved a well-deserved pay raise for our troops, and worked to ensure that the VA is accountable to the veterans it was established to serve. We are working to delivering on the promise this nation made to those on the front line of freedom.
One bipartisan, bicameral accomplishment that I’m particularly proud of is the 21st Century Cures Act, which was signed into law earlier this month. It fast-tracks the development of treatments and cures for cancer and diseases like Alzheimer’s. It also tackles opioid addiction and addresses our country’s mental health crisis. It’s an acknowledgement that federal policy must be updated to keep pace with science and innovation – encouraging medicine’s brightest minds to pursue breakthrough discoveries, and getting government out of the way. Republicans led the way on mental health reforms, opioid addiction and recovery policies, and we fought to deliver an economy that benefitted everyone not just the well to do.
This past year, the President also signed into law a bill I authored to tighten sanctions on North Korea; a recognition that years of failed policy toward Pyongyang contributed to the acceleration of the regime’s nuclear weapons program. It’s the first time Congress approved mandatory, standalone sanctions on North Korea. And it’s the first bill to impose sanctions to counter North Korea’s increasingly sophisticated and malicious cyber attacks.
These are just a few of the legislative successes from 2016 that will have a real impact on the lives of Americans throughout the country. The new GOP majority governed the past two years putting real solutions in place, and we will spend the next two years fighting for every American who has felt left behind. Now, we turn our focus to the work that lies ahead for Congress in 2017.
In November, the American people spoke and signaled that they’re ready for a new direction. Coloradans and Americans everywhere are eager for more opportunities and relief from big government policies that have made it harder to run a business, support a family, and get ahead.
On January 3rd, the Senate will return to Washington and get right to work. We’ll work to repair the damage of Obamacare – a law that was sold on broken promises to the American people. A law that has led to soaring premiums, failing insurance markets, and dwindling choices.
In Colorado alone, more than 750,000 people had their health insurance plans canceled over the past three years. In 2017, health insurance premiums for the individual market in Colorado have increased by an average of 20.4 percent, and that number is even higher for some people. One study found that nearly 150,000 Coloradans saw their health insurance premiums increase by 77 percent in previous years. To put that into perspective – it’s been reported that one woman living on the Western Slope of Colorado saw her premium cost rise from $300 per month to $1,828 per month – or nearly $22,000 a year.
That’s why we’re committed to acting to remove Washington from health care decisions and return them to doctors, patients, and states. Empowering patients with the tools they need to best manage their health care. And removing barriers to choice and access so that you can select the health care plan that’s best for you and your family. We’ll also work to address regulatory overreach – something that Westerners are all too familiar with.
Whether it is the Waters of the United States rule unfairly burdening our farmers and ranchers, endangering our water rights, or the anti-coal rules eliminating thousands of jobs and driving up household energy costs, excessive federal regulations have inhibited growth and job creation over the past eight years. Its negative effects are particularly evident in rural America.
The cranes in Denver present a very stark contrast to the empty stores on Main Streets in rural towns throughout Colorado. Growing up on the Eastern Plains in Yuma, I know firsthand the challenges that small communities face when it comes to not only attracting new businesses and investment, but also retaining residents.
And that’s why we’ll work to pass legislation that incentivizes economic development and makes it easier for small businesses to not only start and succeed, but to thrive. It’s my hope that Congress will also act to simplify and reform the tax code to keep America competitive, encouraging investment, and stimulate job growth.
Lastly, we’re facing increasingly complex challenges around the world and our next Congress will fight to address them through strength and leveraging our relationships with our allies. Whether it’s holding Iran accountable for its support of terrorism, ballistic missile program, and human rights abuses or ratcheting up pressure on those who do business with regimes like North Korea, we will lead through strength and action.
A Republican in the White House and a Republican majority in Congress present tremendous opportunity to make real progress. We assume that responsibility with the promise that we’ll work hard to do everything that we can to deliver more opportunities to Americans tomorrow than they have today.
We have a lot of work to do, and we approach 2017 with a renewed sense of optimism and a commitment to find solutions to revitalize America from coast to coast. Now, more than ever, we recognize that there are better days ahead of us, and we know with great confidence that through the hard work and might of the American people, the world will once again look toward the United States as the land of freedom and opportunity.
Thank you for taking the time to listen. I wish you all a safe, blessed and happy New Year.