This week, I marked the one-year anniversary of my swearing-in to the United States Senate, capping a whirlwind twelve months of work on behalf of the people of Alabama. I’m proud of the fact that my team and I were able to hit the ground running on day one, working diligently not only to deliver real results for our state, but also lead the fight for our foundational principles of faith, family, and freedom.
It is not lost on me that the Senate seat that I currently occupy doesn’t belong to one person – it belongs to the people of Alabama. I don’t take lightly the responsibility with which Alabamians have entrusted me, and I wake up every single day determined to do right by the hardworking men and women who sent me here to fight for our state’s people, values, and interests. That means actually rolling up my sleeves, siting across the table from my colleagues, and doing the difficult work to enact the substantive solutions that will truly put our nation back on the right track.
Much of this work doesn’t grab headlines or go viral on social media, but it’s absolutely critical for Alabamians’ daily lives and the future of our country. My team and I have worked attentively behind the scenes to move the needle on complex issues and support Alabamians. In 2023, we sent out more than 61,000 pieces of correspondence to constituents responding to their questions and addressing their priorities, and we assisted thousands of Alabamians with casework involving federal agencies.
The year was busy legislatively, as well. I sponsored or cosponsored nearly 200 pieces of legislation, ranging from protecting our children on social media, ensuring every Alabamian has access to mental health care services, and expanding educational freedom to holding the Chinese Communist Party accountable, safeguarding American farmland and critical industries, and pushing back against the rampant overregulation threatening Alabamians’ ability to access banking services. We’ve already been able to get several pieces of legislation across the Senate floor, and we’re continuing to work every day to move the ball down the field on a host of important priorities.
There is no single issue more pressing to the safety and wellbeing of our families and communities than the current national security, humanitarian, and economic crisis at our southern border. In my first two months in office, I went to the border three times, because I believe that it’s critical to see situations on the ground and learn firsthand in order to truly understand the problem and then develop and advance effective, strong policy solutions.
In the past three years, we’ve shattered – and then shattered again – every single relevant record on the books. By the end of President Biden’s term, we’re on pace to see more than 10 million encounters with people illegally crossing our border, and the crisis continues to get worse. December saw approximately 300,000 illegal encounters, blasting past September’s previous record of nearly 270,000. Perhaps most alarming, our nation is nearing 2 million known gotaways under the Biden Administration – we don’t know who these individuals are, where they are, where they are going, or what their intentions are.
We cannot allow this crisis to continue. We must take strong action now to secure the border and enforce the law across our homeland’s interior. I’ve introduced three bills and cosponsored more than a dozen more pieces of legislation to do just that. And I’m fighting to get Senate Democrats to wake up and join my Republican colleagues in doing what’s needed to defend America.
However, our rightful sense of urgency must not lead to rushing into misguided action that doesn’t end the crisis – a Band-Aid that merely papers over the problem is no solution at all. That’s why as Ranking Member of the Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee, I’ve led my colleagues in opposing the Biden Administration’s attempts to fund incendiary policies that only fuel and facilitate more mass migration. Until we reverse President Biden’s disastrous polices and push him to crack down on asylum abuse, stop blanket paroles, end catch and release, and actually detain and deport illegal migrants, this crisis will only continue to rage on.
Of course, we cannot look at the national security threat at our border in a vacuum.
Whether it is Communist China, Iran (and its terror proxies), Russia, or North Korea, our adversaries continue to escalate their aggressions, emboldened by a consistent pattern of appeasement and weakness by this Administration. This is a generationally dangerous moment in our nation’s history, and I continue to champion a return to peace through strength in order to keep Americans safe here at home and abroad. I was proud to support legislation this year that will ensure our men and women in uniform are the best equipped, resourced, and trained in the world.
The challenges we’ve faced over the past year extend beyond physical threats and foreign adversaries, too. Every hardworking Alabama family has been confronted with a kitchen table crisis driven by Bidenomics – tax-and-spend policies that inflamed inflation and took more money out of taxpayer pockets to fund partisan pet projects of the far-left. Just last week, our national debt surpassed $34 trillion for the first time. This is why one of my top priorities as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee is to return the appropriations process to full regular order for the first time since the 1990’s, so we can truly tackle wasteful government spending and stop piling an immoral and irresponsible burden on our children and our children’s children.
I firmly believe that every single dollar of hard-earned taxpayer money should be spent accountably, prudently, and transparently. This is why I have fought tirelessly to return as much money as possible to Alabama, rather than it be spent on Pelosi projects in California or Schumer specials in New York. On the Appropriations Committee, I was proud to secure more than $1.2 billion for strategic investments in Alabama this past year. These include projects at Alabama’s military bases, critical improvements to our local roads and waterways, and addressing crucial needs such as expanding ambulance coverage in rural Alabama.
It has been a productive first 12 months. But we are just getting started.
When I took the oath of office on that cold January morning one year ago, I was filled not just with pride, but with a feeling of tremendous hope for the future. While 2023 saw its fair share of crises, I still believe that as long as we continue to fight, our state’s and our nation’s best days are ahead.
As President Reagan said, “the future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted, it belongs to the brave.”
I am wishing all Alabamians a safe, healthy, and prosperous 2024. Let’s tackle the challenges and opportunities facing us head-on.