Note: The following is Sen. Roger Wicker’s Weekly Report and is provided by the Senator’s office.
Congress closed out the year with some good and bad news. On the positive side, lawmakers passed a long-needed bipartisan infrastructure bill while sidelining the Democrats’ socialist tax-and-spend proposal. But there were also disappointments: Democrats wasted months on partisan initiatives while ignoring urgent priorities, such as protecting our southern border. As we enter the New Year, Congress should set a list of resolutions to meet our nation’s most pressing needs.
1. Stop making inflation worse.
The first rule of government should always be “do no harm.” Last spring, Democrats broke that rule by pouring an unnecessary $1.9 trillion into our economy, leading to the highest inflation in nearly 40 years. Now that their latest tax-and-spend effort has stalled, Congress should cut back on “stimulus” spending so that inflation can settle down. Any new COVID relief should be carefully targeted to meet genuine needs.
2. Secure the border.
The most ignored crisis of 2021 occurred on our southern border, where more than 1.7 million migrants entered our country illegally – the most in 20 years. Border Patrol officers were overwhelmed by waves of migrants coming across the Rio Grande, forcing state police and the National Guard to get involved. Thousands of these migrants were released into the country and are unlikely to be tracked down again.
Such a glaring failure to protect our border cannot continue. Border security should always be a top priority of our federal government. I am relieved that the Biden Administration is finally beginning to close gaps in our border wall, but much more work is needed. Congressional Democrats should join Republicans in supporting full funding for the wall and any technologies that would help our Border Patrol officers do their jobs effectively.
3. Keep focus on national defense.
President Biden’s foreign policy blunders, especially in Afghanistan, have weakened America’s standing in the world. It is therefore all the more important that Congress provide our military with the tools it needs to counter our adversaries. Congress should ramp up financial and military aid to Taiwan and Ukraine, which are facing hostile threats from China and Russia. We should also maintain strong support for our defense supply industry after a difficult year of supply chain disruptions and unconstitutional vaccine mandates.
4. Oversee infrastructure rollout.
One bright spot in 2021 was the passage of a bipartisan infrastructure package, which I helped negotiate. This law made use of leftover COVID funds to improve physical infrastructure in our local communities, providing more than $4 billion for Mississippi roads, bridges, rail, broadband, and water projects – all without a tax increase. Congress will need to exercise broad oversight to ensure these funds are distributed to the communities that need them most.
5. Less budget brinkmanship.
In recent years, Congress has become accustomed to passing short-term extensions of government funding, called continuing resolutions, instead of yearlong appropriations. These short-term fixes are highly wasteful, as federal agencies are forced to make budget decisions without long-term funding certainty. Congress should commit to passing annual appropriations bills on time so that last-minute funding crises can be avoided.
6. Defend election laws.
As we head toward the 2022 midterm elections, Democrats in Congress are trying to pass sweeping election law changes, which would make voting less secure. Republicans will need to remain vigilant against all attempts to federalize elections, which have always been governed at the state level.
If Congress can set aside partisan legislation, there is a lot we can accomplish in 2022. With the tax-and-spending bill now on the sidelines, I hope Congress can resolve to get back to the basics and meet the critical needs facing our nation.