Weekly Columns

Choosing Greatness

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Washington, February 6, 2019 | comments

On Tuesday evening, I had the honor of attending the State of the Union address to listen to President Trump’s agenda for the upcoming year. Our country is stronger than it has been in decades thanks to his leadership, and America’s businesses and workers. Our economy is booming, our job market is thriving, and our country safe and secure. Two years ago, many East Tennesseans were worried about the future of our country and this president has restored the hope for them. During his speech the president addressed our nations’ top issues including securing our borders and reforming our immigration system; improving America’s trade deals; promoting an infrastructure agreement; lowering the cost of health care and prescription drugs; protecting life; and rebuilding our military, among others. 

The president’s speech came at a critical time, with the three-week funding resolution scheduled to expire at the end of next week. No one wants to see another government shutdown. The president made a good-faith offer to Democrats on a compromise proposal that will fund the border security priorities the president believes we need, while making changes to our immigration laws that have long been favored by Democrats. I thought the president did a good job in his speech of calling on all of us to rise above partisan politics and try to find common ground in the interest of our country. I am hopeful that Democrats will work with the president to find a solution and work to prevent another government shutdown. 

As a physician and co-chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus, I also could not agree more strongly with the president’s decision to highlight the cost of health care and the cost of prescription drugs as a major issue that is on the mind of every American. Before Democrats passed the Affordable Care Act (ACA), we needed health care reform that addressed the cost in our system. The ACA only exacerbated this problem. Tonight, we heard a number of proposals from the president that will help Americans better afford their health care needs. I stand ready to work with the president and Democrats in Congress on a serious solution that will empower patient-centered health care and make prescription drugs more affordable.

Over the past two years, it has been my honor to work alongside the president to improve the care our veterans receive, and I was proud he gave a shout out to our bipartisan work to pass accountability legislation and other historic VA reforms. As the former chairman, now ranking member, of the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I am very proud of the work we have done over the last two years. Without the support of our president, these changes wouldn’t have been a reality. I hope more bipartisan achievements will continue throughout the next Congress. 

Finally, I believe no passage resonated more deeply with the values East Tennesseans hold dear than the president’s call for Congress to take up new legislation to prohibit late-term abortions. In his remarks, he stated, “Let us work together to build a culture that cherishes innocent life. And let us reaffirm a fundamental truth: all children – born and unborn – are made in the holy image of God.” I could not agree more. I’ve always been a strong supporter of the right to life, and I will do everything I can to answer the president’s call and protect innocent life.

Looking ahead, I am optimistic for the future and I look forward to continue working with President Trump on his vision for our nation. As President Trump said Tuesday night, “Together, we can break decades of political stalemate. We can bridge old divisions, heal old wounds, build new coalitions, forge new solutions, and unlock the extraordinary promise of America’s future. The decision is ours to make." 
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