Listening to those whom I represent has always been a top priority. I have made great efforts to be responsive to constituent mail and phone calls, and have held over 100 in-person town hall meetings every year. I also enjoy traveling around the district participating in community events when I’m not in Washington voting. These are the best ways in which I can keep in touch and learn about the concerns of the people I represent.
Another tool I utilize to hear what’s on the minds of my constituents is my annual survey that is mailed to households in the Fifth District. This year, I heard from over 3,000 respondents from Dodge, Jefferson, Milwaukee, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. Here are some highlighted results, along with updated information about progress we are making.
The survey results indicate a vast majority rate the economy as excellent, good, or fair. Nearly 60 percent are supportive of the administration’s efforts to roll back federal government regulation. When asked about the greatest challenge facing families, more than half said, “rising prices of consumer goods.” The House of Representatives shared these sentiments this Congress when Republicans passed the largest tax cuts in over thirty years, allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money. In fact, more than half of respondents indeed support the tax cuts, and when we return to Washington in a few weeks, we will continue our efforts to make these tax cuts permanent.
Turning to the opioid epidemic, we surveyed the favored approach to curbing this crisis. Over 40 percent specifically chose a combination of investing in treatment and recovery programs and increasing criminal penalties for those who break the law. I have been a leader on both of these approaches. I authored the landmark 2015 House version of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) that passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law by then President Obama. Seeing it fully funded is at the top of my priority list when Congress reconvenes.
In addition, with the input from residents of the Fifth Congressional District who have firsthand knowledge of the heartbreak of opioid addiction, I have introduced the Stopping Overdoses of Fentanyl Analogues (SOFA) Act, which will give law enforcement better tools to fight one of the new leading causes of opioid-related deaths – fentanyl and its analogues. These analogues are compounds that have been slightly altered on a chemical level, but are still lethal and fall into a legal loophole.
Over half of the respondents support building a physical barrier along our southern border and utilizing other forms of technology, such as drones and lasers, where a wall is not practical. My bill, the BUILD WALL Act, would do just this by using funds seized from drug cartels to secure the border.
Regarding gun safety, 80 percent support increased funding for the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). I have consistently fought to strengthen NICS throughout my career, including last year when I threw my support behind the Fix NICS Act. NICS is one important tool for keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and those deemed by a court to be a threat to society.
Other interesting results worth noting are that 72 percent believe we should renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), 80 percent support funding re-entry programs for prisoners, and 46 percent support fixing our labor shortage by focusing on career and technical education in K-12 schools.
Thank you to all who took the time to send in their surveys. Please continue communicating your concerns and letting me know what’s on your mind.