For Iowans and all Americans, the end of the year is a time of reflection and looking ahead. This past year, our communities and nation have experienced trials and triumphs – not unlike those felt by Iowa families. In Congress, I’ve had the opportunity to honor Iowans rising to challenges they’ve faced or fighting to better our communities.
John Anderson of Minburn in Dallas County and his cousin Andy literally rose to a challenge when they climbed the summit of Mount Everest to raise awareness for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder – becoming the first Iowans to climb the summit on the North Face. David Maxwell, the Associate Principal at Valley High School in Des Moines, brought together students and the community to raise awareness of educational inequality. And Damien Bell of Pleasant Hill in Polk County was honored with the Carnegie Medal for saving the life of Richard Rauzi after he fell through the ice on Lake Ahquabi in Warren County.
While honoring Iowans, I’ve also considered it a privilege to bring your voice and values to Congress and work to fix some of the problems you’ve shared with me.
One issue I prioritized and worked hard on last year was addressing the nation’s readiness to combat threats to our nation’s food supply. In 2015, a devastating outbreak of the avian influenza resulted in the deaths of over 31 million poultry birds in Iowa alone. The federal response demonstrated our food supply was not as secure as it could or should be. And it is so important to ensure parents have confidence in knowing the food they put on the table for their family is safe.
I worked right away with stakeholders throughout Iowa and colleagues on both sides of the aisle. With their input and support, I introduced the Securing our Agriculture and Food Act and pushed for its bipartisan passage in Congress and the bill was signed into law in June of 2017 by President Trump.
Last January, I introduced Sarah’s Law, a bill named after Sarah Root who was a young resident of Council Bluffs in Pottawattamie County. Sarah just graduated school and was tragically killed in an auto accident by an illegal immigrant in January of 2016. Her accused killer, Eswin Mejia, posted bail in February in 2016 and hasn’t been seen since.
Sarah’s Law requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to take custody of illegal immigrants who are charged with a crime resulting in the death or serious bodily injury of another person. In June, Sarah’s Law was incorporated into a broader bill and passed out of the U.S. House of Representatives.
As many Iowans know, Congress recently passed and the President signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act which provides much-needed tax relief to hard-working Iowans. As Congress considered this important legislation, I led the successful fight from the House of Representatives to both protect jobs and consumers from higher electricity bills lower in Iowa by preserving the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit 2019 phase-out agreement. Prematurely ending the agreement would have endangered over $30 billion in projects and threatened thousands of jobs and potentially increased energy prices on Iowans.
Those are just a few instances of success and effective leadership last year coming about from listening to and advocating for Iowans.
As I reflect on 2017, other highlights are traveling the 16 counties in the Third District and visiting every county every month meeting with my bosses. I’m humbled by the privilege you’ve given me of serving you in Congress to address the issues we face.
There’s always more work to be done, and as I look to this new year – 2018 – I’m anxious to continue the work and tackle the challenges together before us. And I hope the New Year is full of blessings and happiness for you and your loved ones