Wittman's Weekly: What I'm Thankful For
We have a tradition in my family on Thanksgiving. We all sit down at the table, and before we start eating the beautifully prepared feast, we go around and say what we are thankful for. Well this year, I wanted to do the same thing for work as I do for family - look back through 2019 to think about what I am most thankful for.
As I reflected on this year, I thought about all that we have accomplished and all that still can be done. From the outset of 2019, I made it a priority to work on the issues that matter most to you and we have made real progress. I am thankful for all the work we have done to promote workforce development, sustain our economic growth, better protect our environment, and come to a consensus on a trade deal.
Workforce development is crucial to improving education. As just part of my work on this issue, I visited every Career and Technical Education/STEM center in VA-01 and held three symposiums to connect education institutions with local businesses and the private sector to help ensure the curriculum for our students reflects the needs of the workforce. I also officially launched the First District Career and Technical Education Task Force. I am so thankful for all who have gotten involved in these efforts over the past year to bridge our skills gap.
We promised you a better economy. Because of pro-growth, Republican policies, we are experiencing amazing results. Since January 2017, the U.S. economy has created 5.6 million jobs, the unemployment rate has hit a 50-year low, and we are seeing historic levels of small business optimism, record numbers of job openings, increased business investment, and higher wages. Virginia has been named the top place for business in 2019; and clearly, Virginia businesses are thriving thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit and pro-growth policies such as tax reform and reducing burdensome regulations.
We are doing more than ever to preserve our environment, including critical wetlands and wildlife habitat. Earlier this year, I had three of my bipartisan bills pass out of the Natural Resources Committee: the National Fish Habitat Conservation Through Partnerships Act, the North American Wetlands Conservation Extension Act, and the Keep America’s Waterfronts Working Act. These three bills work to increase conservation of fish habitat and wetlands, as well as preserve our working waterfronts. This is one of the many ways I am working with my colleagues across the aisle to preserve our environment for future generations.
At the end of last year, President Trump negotiated the United States Canada Mexico Agreement. Ratifying the USMCA is especially critical to the First District and entire Commonwealth; over 13,000 jobs in Virginia depend on manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico. Accounting for nearly a quarter of all exports from Virginia, trade with our northern and southern partners is necessary for continued job creation and growth here at home. By increasing duty-free access of the world-class agricultural products we create in the Commonwealth and improving outdated policies, the USMCA improves the financial position of all Virginians. I hope we are able to vote on ratifying this agreement before the end of the year to further boost our economy.
As we move into 2020 there is still much more to be done. We must work to lower the price of prescription drugs, address our crisis at the southern border, get back to an on-time funding process, and make progress on a plan to fix our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges. I will never stop working for real results for the First District.
Most of all, I am thankful for the men and women serving our nation overseas who do not get to be home with family this Thanksgiving holiday. Their patriotism is immeasurable and unwavering. We have so much to be thankful for here in the United States, and today we join together with friends and family in quiet acknowledgment of those blessings.
I hope that you and your family have a happy and blessing-filled Thanksgiving. God bless you, God bless this great Commonwealth of Virginia, and God bless these United States of America.