Commitment to America
This article includes excerpts of two columns which appeared in the Lititz Record Express, Ephrata Review and Elizabethtown Advocate in their Oct. 14 and Oct. 21 editions.
Earlier this year, I stood socially-distanced with my House Republican colleagues on the steps of the U.S. Capitol to discuss a series of policy proposals, our Commitment to America. Our plan has three pillars designed to restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy in history and renew the American dream.
Restore our way of life:
We will defeat the COVID-19 virus and keep America healthy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has posed significant challenges to our nation and restoring our way of life means that we will defeat this virus. As I wrote about in a previous column, the full strength of the American government and the private sector are working to develop, manufacture and distribute over 300 million doses of a safe and effective vaccine, in addition to continuing development of therapeutic treatments and increasing testing opportunities. This project is known as Operation Warp Speed. Many vaccine candidates are in the final stages of clinical trials and expanded therapeutics being brought forth, as well. Recently, President Trump announced that 150 million rapid COVID-19 tests will be shipped to states. A safe and effective vaccine, expanded treatments, and enhanced testing will help us defeat the coronavirus.
As we take steps to address the current pandemic, it is critical that we are simultaneously taking steps to prepare for any future pandemics. One of the key components for preparedness is ensuring that our medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) supply chains are not dependent on other nations. Our nation is overwhelmingly reliant on China and India which manufacture over-the counter medicines, generic prescription drugs, and pharmaceutical ingredients. We have seen countless examples of local businesses and individuals stepping up to support the production of PPE to support our medical providers and first responders, but we need to ensure that the National Strategic Stockpile is modernized so we are prepared to address any emerging threat.
We will ensure the safety of our communities and neighborhoods.
Another threat our nation currently faces is that of civil unrest. House Republicans have put forth legislation, known as the JUSTICE Act, which I supported, to increase federal support for law enforcement by $1.75 billion. These funds would be used to enhance policy training, support community policing and assist in purchasing over 500,000 body cameras for police. Supporting our brave law enforcement officers should not be a partisan issue, but unfortunately Democrats in the House and Senate blocked this legislation from being considered earlier this year. At the same time, members of the House Democratic Caucus called for defunding and dismantling police departments--which are radical and dangerous proposals. Every day, law enforcement selflessly serves and protects our communities. They deserve our support, not rhetoric from politicians which incite violent rioting and looting.
We will protect our freedoms.
Our God-given rights enshrined in the Constitution must be defended. As former President Ronald Reagan famously said: “freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction.” We will fight for the unborn and oppose efforts of many states across the nation to expand abortion and legalize infanticide. We will stand for free speech at a time when big tech companies are curtailing it. We will uphold our Second Amendment.
Our Commitment to America will rebuild our economy to pre-Covid stability. Congress, with the support of President Trump, created the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has supported roughly 175,000 businesses in Pennsylvania and saved close to 100,000 jobs right here in southern York and Lancaster counties. Our proposal would maintain the PPP to support small businesses as we continue the great American comeback. We will further support Opportunity Zones, which have supported revitalizations in distressed communities. We will provide support to families by extending the $2,000 child tax credit. We will always support pro-growth policies like tax relief for hard-working Americans and regulatory relief, which promotes a strong economy, independent of the government.
Rebuild the greatest economy:
We will ensure America’s economic success by modernizing and investing in our infrastructure.
This includes launching a 5-year plan to fix and improve roads, bridges, and airports. We will also reduce unnecessary regulations and cut permitting process times in half for new projects. As COVID-19 has displaced many Americans from working at an office or attending school every day, we will also increase investment in broadband access to provide high speed internet to everyone, but particularly rural Americans. Without this critical infrastructure investment, too many Americans could remain out of work and out of school. Rebuilding our economy to be stronger than it was before COVID-19 will enable all Americans to pursue and achieve their own American Dream.
Renew the American dream:
We will renew the American Dream by creating opportunity for all Americans.
I have been privileged to be born in the greatest nation in the history of the world and have lived the American Dream. I was born the tenth child in an Amish family of twelve. As a young child, I loved to read and to learn. Traditionally, education for Amish children ends in eighth or ninth grade, but my parents allowed me to attend high school on two conditions. I had to attend a private Christian school. I had to pay for my own tuition to attend high school. I attended Lancaster Mennonite High School during the day and at night I worked for an older brother hanging drywall. By the time I graduated high school, the older brother I worked for was looking to move on to other ventures. So I bought the drywall company from him. As a teenager, I became a small business owner, which over two decades eventually grew to employ hundreds of individuals. I share my story because it is an American story. We have more opportunity here than in any place in the world.
House Republicans will support every Americans’ success now and in the future.
Ensuring that children across the nation have that same opportunity to live their American Dream starts with ensuring that every child can earn a high-quality education, regardless of where they were born or where they live. We will achieve this by allowing parents to choose the school that is right for their child, investing in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and career and technical training programs. Legislation which I have introduced, the USA Workforce Tax Credit, would stimulate private sector support for organizations which provide K-12 scholarships, apprenticeship training or workforce development and create opportunities for students to explore successful career pathways. A strong educational foundation opens the door to success.
While the Commitment to America helps create opportunity for future generations of America, it also affirms our promise to protect and strengthen Social Security and Medicare for older Americans. Our Commitment to America is a commitment to you: we will restore our way of life, rebuild the greatest economy, and renew the American Dream. To learn more about these proposals, please visit my website at Smucker.House.gov.