The story of our country is often told by the decades that define it. With the end of this decade so close at hand, it can often be tempting to imagine what the last ten years will be remembered for. Or for that matter, the last year alone. For me, 2019 will be remembered by the people I had the pleasure to meet, businesses I had the opportunity to visit and the projects I have had the privilege to work on. Between spending time in our nation’s capital and back home in Wyoming, I’ve been able to meet with hundreds of workers and families from Wyoming to discuss the current issues that are important to us.
One of my proudest achievements this year was passing the Bipartisan Congressional Budget Reform Act out of the Senate Budget Committee. This legislation was truly historic because this is the first bipartisan reform of our nation’s budgeting process to pass out of committee since 1990. This bill will take several positive steps toward a more active, thoughtful and functional budget process. While our economy is strong, our current federal deficit is on an unsustainable path. Tax dollars should be spent in a responsible manner. America has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and this bill would help make sure the federal government is budgeting more efficiently.
I was also proud that the president signed my legislation into law that would protect bow owners traveling through national parks. It is important that Congress is able to provide common-sense protection for law-abiding citizens who need to travel across national parks to get to the land where they intend to bow hunt.
Senate Republicans have also been working hard to confirm a record number of judges. In less than three years of working with President Trump, the Senate has confirmed 50 circuit judges, more than any president’s first full term in 40 years.
A new passion I came across this year was the Veterans History Project, which allowed me to meet and say thank you to many veterans across our state who sacrificed so much for our country. I hosted a Veterans History Project Day in Cheyenne with the Library of Congress where I met some extraordinary people. The Librarian of Congress Dr. Carla Hayden even made the trip out to Wyoming – her first time. Wyoming is home to thousands of veterans, and this is a unique project that works to collect and save stories of service from veterans.
On this project day we were able to record dozens of stories with the help of local volunteers. I even recorded one of my own stories that will be submitted to the collection. I remember a veteran who was interviewed by his adult kids, and at the end, those kids were surprised at the history they did not know about their dad. Each veteran is important and every story is unique. Our veterans are at the heart of our country and it’s important that we honor and remember their service.
Toward the end of the year I hosted my annual Inventors Conference in Evanston where I brought together business experts and inspiring entrepreneurs. This year, I was also able to bring more of Wyoming’s leadership to Washington. For a Senate Budget Committee hearing on fixing the broken budget process, I invited a longtime friend, Wyoming State Senator Eli Bebout of Riverton, to come showcase the success of Wyoming’s biennial budgeting system. Another Wyoming native, Rob Wallace, was confirmed to be the assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks within the Department of Interior, and I was honored to introduce him at his confirmation hearing in the Senate last June. Wyoming is filled with driven and hardworking people who lead the way in everything they do.
This has also been a bittersweet year as I announced in May that I would not plan to run for reelection in 2020. So far, I have served in the U.S. Senate for close to 23 years. During my life I’ve followed my mom’s advice, my core values: Do what’s right. Do your best. Treat others as they want to be treated. This job has been an honor of a lifetime and I give my deepest thanks and appreciation to the people of Wyoming for the privilege that you have given me to represent you in so many different ways.
But I still have one year left in this job and I plan to continue being the workhorse for Wyoming you expect me to be. This coming year will be focused on completing what’s been started and continuing to solve more problems for Wyoming. As you reminisce on your own year, don’t forget to look forward and set your own goals and priorities. Now, let’s get to work.