Energy and Commerce: A year in review
Posted on January 2, 2018 15:11 pm CST
By Congressman Billy Long,
The Energy and Commerce Committee, which I am a member of, recently celebrated its 222nd birthday. With a jurisdiction that covers a variety of issues, including health, energy, digital commerce and consumer protection, communications and technology and environment, the Energy and Commerce Committee has a successful track record. In 2017 the Energy and Commerce Committee had six bills signed into law, 58 bills pass the House of Representatives, 92 hearings and 18 markups. Of the 58 bills that passed the House, 86 percent received bipartisan support. I have the privilege of serving on three of the subcommittees: Health, Energy and Communications and Technology.
One of the top priorities for the Communications and Technology Subcommittee is expanding access to rural broadband deployment. As someone who represents a predominantly rural district, this issue hits close to home. According to the Federal Communications Commission 2016 Broadband Progress Report, 61 percent of Missouri’s rural population cannot access fixed broadband internet. That’s unacceptable. In March, the subcommittee discussed two possible bills that would help close this digital divide by including rural broadband deployment in certain federally funded highway projects.
Although the Communications and Technology Subcommittee is doing impactful work, it isn’t the only subcommittee working on pressing issues. In 2017 the Health Subcommittee continued its fight against one of our nation’s biggest problems: the opioid crisis. In 2016 alone, more than 64,000 Americans died because of this epidemic. Since 2012, the Energy and Commerce Committee has worked to highlight and find solutions to this growing problem. In October, the committee held monthlong events ranging from a member day, where members shared stories and solutions, to a committee-wide hearing focused on combating this problem. As Chairman zGreg Walden said, “We have a duty to our constituents and the American people to combat this epidemic from all angles.” That’s why the Health Subcommittee plans to kick off 2018 with a framework for legislative action and continuing the fight.
But my work doesn’t stop there. Our nation’s energy resources continue to be a top priority for the Energy Subcommittee. In 2017, the Energy Subcommittee pursued multiple pieces of legislation focused on modernizing and expanding hydropower infrastructure. Like much of our nation’s infrastructure, energy infrastructure only has a certain lifespan. And as early as 2025, 70 percent of the dams in the U.S. will need to be updated. So far, the House has passed 10 bills that aim to fix this problem by promoting hydropower development and ensuring individuals have access to this emission-free energy resource.
The Energy and Commerce Committee plans to start 2018 will a full legislative agenda that tackles more pressing issues facing our country. I look forward to another great year and can’t wait to get started.