As I travel across our state and meet with North Carolinians back home and in my Washington office, the primary concern of everyone I talk to is creating jobs and growing the economy. Although the Majority Leader has largely ignored these concerns lately, we did have the opportunity to vote on several pieces of legislation this week that will increase job growth and stimulate our economy.
On Tuesday, a bill I cosponsored aimed at preserving American jobs and increasing the competitiveness of American companies in the global marketplace passed the Senate with resounding bipartisan support. The Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act will hold China accountable for undervaluing its currency, a practice that has an extremely detrimental impact on American manufacturing jobs and our entire economy by widening our trade deficit and giving China an unfair advantage in international trade. This has ultimately resulted in fewer American exports and the loss of millions of American manufacturing jobs, including many in North Carolina. Passage of this bill sends a signal to China and other nations that we are committed to fair trade and defending the interests of American workers.
A few days after this bill passed, the Commerce Department announced that our trade gap with China has reached an all-time high, underscoring the need to enforce sanctions on countries who manipulate their currency to give themselves an unfair trade advantage.
In another effort to increase job creation and open new markets for American products and services abroad, the Senate passed three trade agreements – with Panama, Colombia, and South Korea - on Wednesday. These trade agreements will have a positive impact on our state’s economy and represent a step in the right direction towards opening markets, expanding opportunities, and putting North Carolinians and Americans across the country back to work. Lowering tariff barriers with other nations will give American companies, including North Carolina businesses, the opportunity to grow and create jobs.
I am pleased that these trade agreements passed and that we are coupling them with an increased determination to put a stop to the unfair trade practices of other countries which harm U.S. businesses and cost jobs. Just as America is committed to free trade, we must also fight for fair trade to ensure that our businesses and workers have the best possible opportunities to market their goods and services.
On Thursday, I further fought to create and maintain American jobs by co-sponsoring the Medical Device Regulatory Improvement Act. This bill would help streamline the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) regulation of medical devices in order to spur innovation here at home and provide investors the regulatory certainty and predictability necessary to prevent them from pursuing opportunities overseas. Over the past few years, regulatory challenges at the FDA have delayed, and in some cases, prevented new and innovative devices from reaching the market, depriving American patients access to the best available medical technology. By streamlining and ensuring the least burdensome approach to FDA’s regulation of medical devices, we not only take a key step toward restoring America’s leadership in the research and development of life-saving products, but uphold our promise to patients in North Carolina and around our nation to continue innovating on their behalf. Read this press release to learn more about the bill.
Since the so-called “jobs proposal” that Majority Leader Reid brought to the floor on Tuesday night would not effectively spur job growth here in the U.S., I voted against part two of President Obama’s first failed stimulus bill. Fortunately, this jobs plan failed to pass this Senate since myself and others recognized that we have tried a stimulus before and it didn’t create the kind of job growth that it promised or that we need. A serious, successful jobs bill will not be about how much Washington can spend, but how we create an environment that allows our country’s job creators to grow. Instead of more short-term stimulus, we need to focus on long-term solutions, like comprehensive tax reform, to stimulate our economy and give businesses the certainty and predictability they need to create jobs. Reforming and simplifying our tax code would provide companies and small businesses the certainty and confidence in the economy they need to hire and retain employees.
Also on Thursday, I introduced a bill to protect the Second Amendment rights of our nation’s veterans. Currently, veterans who have a fiduciary appointed to help them with their VA benefits are deemed “mentally defective” and are reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), a system which prevents them from being able to purchase firearms in the United States. This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to NICS. Taking away a Constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same due process under the law as all other American citizens. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect. To read more about this bill, click here.