MOORE — It’s hard to believe that 2013 already reached an end. While Congress didn’t solve everything we could’ve hoped for this year, there were numerous victories for the country. Most importantly, I was encouraged to watch both sides work together on several occasions to find common ground and display true bipartisanship. It’s a reminder that when we start where we agree, we can function in divided government.
We started off the year on the verge of a “fiscal cliff,” caused by the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011. Without any congressional action, all Americans would have experienced a tax hike and doctors would have seen severe cuts to reimbursement rates for Medicare and Medicaid patients. In addition, sequestration, across-the-board spending cuts on every program in government, regardless of merit or efficiency, was scheduled to take place. I was pleased that we were able to pass the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which made the Bush tax cuts permanent for 98 percent of taxpayers. It also delayed devastating military cuts for two months and prevented other damaging tax policies. I wish we could’ve achieved more, but this agreement was a major victory for American workers and for the economy.
In mid-January, just a couple months after Hurricane Sandy, I supported legislation that would provide relief assistance for victims of the storm. At the time, the vote was a no-brainer, especially given our own state’s history and risk for severe weather. Little did we know, a few months later, Oklahoma would experience a horrific round of tornadoes that leveled entire neighborhoods, claimed precious lives and shook several communities, including my hometown of Moore.
In the days that followed the disastrous tornadoes in Oklahoma, never once were we lacking assistance. Oklahoma felt the immediate support and prayers of individuals across the nation — a reminder that, in times of crisis, Americans of all parties and political points of view come together to help their fellow Americans. The same night that Moore was hit by the deadly storm, I was contacted by the president, who directly offered and issued assistance from FEMA. Shortly after that, President Obama, Homeland Secretary Napolitano and FEMA Director Fugate personally came to Moore to survey the damage, offer support and ensure Oklahoma received adequate recovery aid. In addition, colleagues on both sides of the aisle in the House extended their condolences and offered assistance in relief efforts.