Over 300,000 of our nation’s veterans call Nevada home. These are our bravest heroes who have faithfully served our country and chose to put everything on the line to defend America’s freedom. I believe these men and women deserve our gratitude, and in the Senate, I have worked tirelessly on their behalf.
As a senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and the Co-Chair of the Senate VA Backlog Working Group, I have made it a priority to eliminate the VA disability claims in Nevada. In Nevada’s VA Regional Office alone, we have seen a reduction of the backlog of claims from 4,328 in 2013 to 1,235 today. That’s over 3,000 cases and a 40% decrease. When I started my work, the average days to complete a VA claim in Nevada took over a year, 433 days to be exact, but today it’s 124 days. The remaining backlog in Nevada is still unacceptable, which is why I am proud the Senate passed my comprehensive legislation in 2016 to overhaul the claims process so it works better for veterans. I am also working with VA Secretary David Shulkin to begin addressing the growing number of appeals for veterans who believe the VA’s decision on their claim is wrong.
In addition to reducing the VA claims backlog, I’ve focused on achieving accountability at the VA. If performance isn’t up to par, I support granting the VA Secretary the ability to fire VA officials responsible for poor performance. These officials should be held accountable for failing to meet the important responsibility of serving our nation’s heroes. Our veterans shouldn’t have to suffer poor or untimely care due to their inefficiencies.
I’ve advocated for better care for our nation’s veterans. Whether you’re talking about modernizing VA care by offering more services for women veterans at VA medical facilities or offering tele-health services for rural veterans, I’ve fought to ensure America’s veterans are not forgotten. That’s why in 2016, I was proud to see years of labor come to fruition with the grand opening of the VA’s Pahrump Community Based Outpatient Clinic. Veterans in Nye County finally have a VA clinic that can meet the demands of its fast-growing veteran population. This was a concrete deliverable I was proud to be part of and one that my colleagues on the Senate Veterans’ Committee knew was a priority for me. Veterans in southern Nevada benefit directly from this clinic and deserve it. I’m also proud to have successfully led the effort in Congress to authorize an important construction project at the VA medical facility in Reno to ensure the safety of veterans and VA employees at this facility, as well as to improve the quality and availability of care for veterans in Reno.
Nevada’s veterans face many struggles ranging from high unemployment, a struggling housing market, and too often, homelessness. Congress has an obligation to partner with both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure veterans have the resources they need to succeed. As your voice in Washington, I hope every veteran in Nevada knows I am fighting every single day to repay the debt our nation owes your for your sacrifice and courage to defend freedom.
For years, our national debt has continued to grow because Washington refused to get serious about spending and continues to be a pain free zone. As a result, Americans are working harder and harder to get ahead but are falling behind. I have long opposed excessive spending by our federal government from the Wall Street Bailout to former President Obama’s stimulus plan. I believe it is essential that we rein in spending, address these yearly deficits, and get the national debt under control. Under the Obama Administration, our national debt exploded by $9 trillion dollars. That’s unacceptable.
I am not just talking about solving the problem, I am actively pushing a solution. One of the fundamental responsibilities of Congress is to budget and pay its spending bills on time. Year after year under this past Administration Congress just kicked the spending can down the road. Just as Nevadans have to pay their bills on time so too should Congress. This is why I introduced my No Budget, No Pay Act, which would eliminate pay for Members of Congress unless they passed a budget and its spending bills on time each year. My legislation is simple. If you don’t do your job you don’t get paid. I have also pushed for a Balanced Budget Amendment that would ultimately force Washington to live within its means – something Nevada’s households do every single day.
Our Founders envisioned a government where the people have a right to defend themselves, their home, and their family. As someone who understands the importance of upholding and protecting Nevadans’ constitutional rights, I am an unwavering advocate for our Second Amendment. I know these are Nevada’s values.
My record in Washington, D.C., has been crystal clear: I support Nevadans’ ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights. Earlier this year, I voted to end a last-minute Obama Administration gun grab hidden in the Social Security Administration’s policies. This provision unfairly targeted seniors, denying them their Second Amendment rights without due process. Prior to that, I have consistently opposed efforts by the extreme left in Congress to limit law-abiding Americans’ right to bear arms including comprehensive gun control.
As a gun owner and sportsman, Nevada can always count on me to protect our values.
Nearly 53 million visitors came to Nevada in 2016 alone, supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. Travelers spend nearly 60 billion in Nevada annually, accounting for about 13 percent of the state’s annual GDP. The impact tourism has on Nevada cannot be underestimated; it is a lifeline for our economy.
My time in the Senate is focused on promoting tourism, improving travel efficiency, and facilitating growth opportunities. As a cochair of the Senate Caucus on Tourism, I am one of the leading voices in the Congress for policies that improve our nation’s tourism opportunities. I have worked in a bipartisan manner to advance some of the most important travel legislation enacted into law over the past six years, such as investments in infrastructure and reforms to the TSA designed to improve efficiency and safety for travelers.
My support for Israel is unwavering and constant. While America’s relationship with Israel became strained under the previous Administration, my undivided loyalty to one of our most important allies grew stronger. That’s why I introduced legislation to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israel’s undivided capital. I questioned the previous Administration on its inability to hold Iran, a significant threat to Israel in the region, accountable for its nefarious activities, including sponsoring terrorism against Israel.
I remain concerned about Israel’s safety and security with Iran’s latest aggression to test a ballistic missile and have introduced legislation to impose sanctions against Iran for these ballistic missile tests. In addition, I believe the Iran Nuclear Deal negotiated by the previous Administration has only emboldened this state sponsor of terrorism, and I have opposed this terrible agreement because it does nothing to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. As one of our top allies and promoters of democracy in the Middle East, Israel must have no doubt America will be there to defend it against all foes.