Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers hit the Washington, D.C., highlights at Tuesday’s Montgomery Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues breakfast. The Business Council of Alabama is a co-sponsor of the chamber breakfasts.
U.S. Rep. Rogers, R-Saks, spoke of the pending 2018 farm bill, the December 2017 tax cut, reversing regulations on American business, defense spending that is important to Alabama, President Trump’s agenda, and the political dynamics of Congress today compared with decades and even centuries ago.
Rep. Rogers was elected to Congress in 2002 from the Third Congressional District of east Alabama and is second in seniority in Alabama’s House delegation. He was twice elected to the Alabama House of Representatives and had been elected to the Calhoun County Commission.
Rep. Rogers serves on the Agriculture Committee, the Armed Services Committee, and the Homeland Security Committee.
He serves as a House conferee for the 2018 farm bill to help negotiate the legislation that provides certainty and stability for Alabama’s $70-plus-billion agriculture planning.
“Agriculture is 42 percent of our economy,” he said, adding that he expects the farm bill to be finalized prior to a new Congress in January.
The U.S. House is on its August break, but the Senate remains in session this month to consider dozens of president nominations, including a second U.S. Supreme Court nominee.
President Trump signed the tax cut in December 2017. It permanently cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent, reduced the top individual tax rate to 37 percent through 2025, doubled the standard deduction, eliminated personal exemptions, and capped state and local tax deductions that some wealthier states had been allowing to reduce federal income tax liability.
Rep. Rogers said the tax cut immediately began paying dividends to American individual and business taxpayers by creating conditions for businesses to expand, to hire new employees and increase wages in some cases, and to return cash from overseas. “Companies across the country started giving bonuses,” Rep. Rogers said.
He said the average net gain from the tax cut in his district is $1,900 for a family. “That makes a difference,” he said.
Rep. Rogers said one of the first actions of the new Congress in 2017 was to successfully repeal regulations of the previous administration that were injurious to businesses and taxpayers. He said President Trump used his authority to repeal many regulations just as the previous president had used to install them.
The House voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but its repeal failed by one vote in the U.S. Senate. Rep. Rogers predicted that the Senate will gain a few pro-repeal numbers in this fall’s election and ultimately will overturn the law known as Obamacare.
Defense spending is vital to Alabama’s economy. Rep. Rogers said the 2019 defense budget that awaits Senate action will help bolster American military strength.
Rep. Rogers compared today’s dynamics in Washington, D.C., with the dynamics of years ago by holding up his cell phone, which symbolizes instant communication capabilities, and 24/7 cable, blogger, and web-based reporting.
He said bickering in Washington is nothing new in politics but is different than years ago when it took days or even weeks for filtered information to reach constituents, if it reached them at all.
Rep. Rogers said what appears to be dysfunction is “what we’re supposed to be doing” because it should be difficult to pass laws, especially those which affect the entire nation.
Despite the bickering and friction, Rep. Rogers concluded, “The country is moving in the right direction.”