New Year, new Congress, same priorities

Published 12:05 pm Tuesday, January 10, 2023

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In spite of the hectic end to the year, we had a productive 2022, successfully repealing the military COVID vaccine mandate, helping sexual assault survivors seek justice, improving supply chains by establishing a national database with information about the interconnectivity of manufacturers, and strengthening small battery safety standards with the signing of Reese’s Law.
Now, it’s a new year and a new Congress, and there are a few issues that we need to address right off the bat.
As I met with community leaders in all 95 Tennessee counties last year, one topic dominated our conversations — the effects of Washington’s reckless spending. It has forced local governments to allocate more money just to keep emergency vehicles running and potholes filled, worried educators tasked with meeting demands for school transportation, delayed construction projects, and squeezed family budgets.
On the day Joe Biden walked into the Oval Office, inflation was at 1.4 percent. Within one year, it had increased to 7.5 percent. This did not simply happen by accident and is not a result of “Putin’s Price Hike” or whatever fresh excuse the Biden White House might use next. It is a result of continuous reckless spending. Simply put, the federal government does not know how to manage its pocketbook, and your pocketbook is suffering as a result.
Later this month, I will propose a series of bills to undo this damage. As I told Tennesseans in every county, we must freeze federal spending, and make it harder for Washington bureaucrats to spend Americans’ hard-earned tax dollars, particularly during times of high inflation. My Stop Inflationary Spending Act will increase the voting threshold for spending packages during periods of high inflation to a supermajority. This will make it much harder for Chuck Schumer and his socialist pals to shove through expensive legislation the American people can’t afford. I will also renew my call to cut user fees for small businesses and taxpayers already struggling to protect themselves against the Democrats’ attempts to weaponize the IRS.
Another immediate concern we must address is how the rapid rise of social media has contributed to an alarming increase in teen suicide, which is now the second leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10-24. In the last Congress, Senator Blumenthal and I worked together to present a bipartisan solution to the countless heartbreaking stories we heard from parents and friends whose loved ones died because of what they encountered on social media. The Kids Online Safety Act, which advanced to the Senate floor but never received a vote, gives kids and parents the tools and transparency they need to stay safe and requires social media companies to make their platforms safer by default. This year, I hope to see this bill become law.
After technology companies reported finding more than 69 million images and videos depicting child abuse on their platforms, I introduced the End Child Exploitation Act. This legislation doubles the mandatory period these companies can preserve information about child sexual abuse images so that law enforcement has ample time to hunt down online predators. This year, I will reintroduce this measure to ensure that our children are protected online.
Children are the future, and we must do everything possible to leave things in better shape than we found them. Their safety, especially in the internet age, should be a priority. Reducing the debt burden we’re leaving them is also vitally important.
In the 118th Congress, I am ready to hit the ground running to make life better for all Americans and will continue to work closely with advocates to get these bills introduced and across the finish line soon.
(Marsha Blackburn represents Tennessee in the U.S. Senate.)

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