The robust jobs report issued the first week of August is an affirmation of the progress the 115th Congress and the Trump Administration have made in the past seven months in righting the economic course of our nation.
The report showed the economy adding more than 1 million new jobs since January. In July alone, 209,000 new jobs were added, with 16,000 of them in the manufacturing sector. Today we have the lowest unemployment rate in 16 years, and these strong numbers are reflected in a 16-year high in consumer confidence.
Major legislative initiatives relating to health care, tax reform and infrastructure have consumed most of the news coverage. Yet, there has been less coverage about the productivity of the House of Representatives in the 115th Congress, which has been greater than any other session of Congress in the past 30 years. To date, the House has passed 432 bills, 66 which have passed both chambers of Congress. Of these, 52 bills have been signed into law. In addition, four of the twelve appropriations bills have passed out of the House, with the goal of moving all of them through Congress this fall.
The regulation reform has been especially remarkable. As I travel around state this month, North Dakotans tell me they are grateful for the relief from job-killing regulations that were choking their businesses and stalling the economy. Working together, Congress and President Trump have withdrawn or removed from active status 860 regulations. This includes more than a dozen Congressional Review Act (CRA) bills passed by Congress and signed into law. The CRA allows Congress to overturn rules by a federal agency 60 days after they are reported to Congress, and those now law repeal regulations in energy, banking, labor, education, social security and the internet.
A number of bills signed into law address issues relating to veterans and law enforcement, which the President and Congress have made a top priority in the 115th Congress. They include the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act; the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act; Vietnam War Veterans Recognition Act; amendments to the Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014; Wounded Officers Recovery Act; the American Law Enforcement Heroes Act; and a bill to remove the time restriction for future recipients of the GI Bill.
Also significant is the new law President Trump signed which was supported by a wide bipartisan majority in Congress tightening sanctions to North Korea, Russia and Iran for terrorist financing, ballistic missile activities, human rights abuses and hostile cyber activities.
Legislation the House has passed now under consideration in the Senate includes the Financial Choice Act to give relief to community banks and small businesses. The Accelerating Individuals into the Workforce Act expands skills-based education and development to help Americans find new opportunities and the right skills to get better-paying jobs. The National Defense Authorization Act enhances our military’s readiness by increasing defense spending by $21 billion, authorizing additional resources to counter threats, increasing end-strength and providing service members with their biggest pay raise in eight years.
We have passed sweeping reforms to end human trafficking with longer penalties for sex traffickers and increased support for victims, and we have increased resources for border security and reforming immigration laws to protect-law-abiding citizens from dangerous criminal aliens and cracked down on sanctuary cities that impede immigrant enforcement. Among the House-passed bills are the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act and Kate’s Law, clarifying immigration and customs enforcement authority and increasing penalties for deported felons who return to the United States.
I do not believe it is mere coincidence our economy is soaring at the same time that hard-working Americans, including North Dakotans, have been relieved from oppressive overregulation. The roughly 18% growth in the stock market since November is a direct result of the actions taken by the Trump Administration and Congress, and the American people are the biggest winners with growing retirement plans and better paying jobs.
Many more challenges are facing America today. When we return to Washington in September, I look forward to Congress moving ahead to address many more of them. Next up will be tax reform.