By: U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas-8)
In July, we received great news that the American economy had grown in the second quarter by 4.1 percent. Those numbers were recently revised, and we learned that it grew at 4.2 percent! On top of our best annual growth rate in a decade, August was another solid month of job growth with private-sector earnings up as well. There is no question the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has changed the trajectory of our economy for the better.
To keep that momentum going, the House Ways and Means Committee, which I lead, will begin debating Tax Reform 2.0 legislation this week. The key part of this next step is to make the tax cuts for middle-class families and small businesses permanent. Arcane Senate rules prevented us from doing so last year in the first tax cuts bill and many Democrats claimed they could not support the bill because those tax cuts for families would eventually lapse. This week, we have a great opportunity to work in a bipartisan fashion and deliver permanent tax relief to our hardworking families and small businesses. I’m excited to get started.
The Ways and Means Committee also recently marked up three health care bills that address combatting waste, fraud, and abuse in the Medicare program; allows more flexibility for seniors in their coverage options; and provides beneficiaries greater access to technologies, procedures, and services in Medicare. It’s important to ensure the Medicare system is working efficiently and I’m proud to support these pieces of legislation.
President Trump recently reached a bilateral understanding with Mexico to update NAFTA for the benefit of workers, farmers, and local businesses. While NAFTA has been largely successful for Texas’ businesses and workers, the President is correct that we need new rules to better face the challenges of today’s modern economy. The President’s preliminary agreement with Mexico marks an important step toward that goal.
I look forward to carefully analyzing the details of what has been agreed to and consulting with my colleagues and constituents to determine whether the new proposal meets the high-standard trade priorities set out by Congress under the Trade Promotion Authority. Additionally, I strongly urge Canada to step up and demonstrate that it can take on the ambitious obligations of the agreement with the aim of concluding a modern, seamless North American agreement.
September is World Suicide Prevention Month. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and takes the lives of over 44,965 Americans each year. However, we can help by starting a conversation, raising awareness, distributing helpful information and providing support. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. They can be reached 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-8255. I encourage everyone to share this number. Together, we can all help prevent suicide.
Though it has been seventeen years since the devastating terrorist attacks on 9/11, we will never forget the thousands of Americans who tragically lost their lives that day. We are forever grateful for the heroism of the first responders—police officers, firefighters and medical professionals—who selflessly rushed into action at Ground Zero, knowing they may not make it out. This anniversary, let us remember the strength of a nation that refused to be brought to its knees, and remained determined and undivided. God bless America; today and every day.
Brady is chairman of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee