The American people sent a message Tuesday, putting Republicans in control of the Senate and boosting our majority in the House. Now, it is our job to show that we can govern so we can restore the shaken confidence of our constituents and put the greatest country in the world on the right track.
Americans are weary of both congressional gridlock and executive branch incompetence. By working with willing partners in the House and Senate, we can send President Obama legislation that will heal our country and grow our economy.
For example, I have two bills to boost the timber and ranching industries in Idaho and the West that have already passed the House. Harry Reid and the Democrats refused to even give them a hearing. I'm optimistic they will now get serious consideration in the Senate.
These bills are a good first step in our effort to lift the regulatory burden slowing growth in the public lands states. Our national forests have been mismanaged for too long, dropping timber harvests by 80 percent in 30 years. I believe state and local governments can do a better job.
My Self-Sufficient Community Lands Act would establish pilot community forest projects of about 200,000 acres, totaling up to 4 million acres nationwide. Local governments would manage the land in accordance with state laws. The result would be responsible production, creation of rural jobs and reduced wildfire risk. My hope is demonstrating the benefit of guardianship closer to the people will prompt management transfer of millions more acres in coming years.
The Grazing Improvement Act would extend livestock grazing permits on federal lands from 10 to 20 years, giving ranchers the certainty to boost operations and local economies. The bill addresses a backlog in processing renewals by extending permits under existing terms. It also offers regulatory relief and would discourage frivolous lawsuits.
More broadly, the GOP change in the Senate means Congress should pass a free-market alternative to Obamacare. It means tax reform, which lowers rates, eliminates corporate welfare and tax loopholes, and raises additional revenue through growth. It means cutting our $18 trillion debt now, not down the road. It means regulatory reform and step-by-step immigration reform. It means legislation to protect religious freedom, check spying on Americans and shield citizens from IRS abuse.
Republicans should act swiftly, in the first 100 days of the new Congress. We need to prove that limited government can work efficiently and effectively.
My hope is the president, heeding the message of the American people and mindful of his legacy, would work with us in Congress. Unfortunately, in his post-election news conference, he seemed reluctant to acknowledge the scale of the GOP wave and the need for change. I'm especially troubled that he repeated his vow to move ahead with a provocative executive order on immigration before Congress has time to act.
But even if the president fails to work with us, a Republican Congress can pass a common sense agenda that will show exactly what we want to do to improve the lives of all of our constituents.
Millions of Americans are unemployed, underemployed or simply so discouraged they've left the workforce. We must make every effort to revive President Reagan's brilliant conception of America as "a shining city on a hill," blessed with boundless promise.
The new Republican majority can unleash the pent-up energy of millions of Americans ready to go to work in an economy that restores fiscal sanity and assures a level field in tax and regulatory policy.
In January, the Senate logjam will break. Republicans must not take the responsibility lightly. The American people want results. It's our duty to deliver.