Veterans are American heroes. Just as these brave men and women have fought for our country, we must fight for them here at home. While there are many good employees at the Veterans Administration, the single-payer bureaucracy often prevents quality care. Poor performance and abuse is UNACCEPTABLE. I voted to hire more doctors and nurses, speed appeals, and improve accountability for negligent employees. My office helps many Tennessee vets claim benefits and care.
Entrepreneurs and innovation drive the U.S. economy, and small businesses provide most jobs. Rising wages and incomes, not federal entitlement programs, guarantee Americans' economic well-being. At least three percent economic growth should be the norm, requiring low taxes and regulations. My record on debt and spending is clear. Fiscally conservative organizations like the American Conservative Union and Heritage Foundation rank my votes to support small businesses, workers, and taxpayers among the most consistent in Congress.
Despite spending more per student than almost every country, United States test scores lag behind international competitors. Students graduate without skills to succeed in the real world, many graduating from college with mountains of debt that prevent them from pursuing their dreams. Parents and states should have more control over what we teach our children. Increasing education options, especially Science, Math, Engineering and Technology instruction, would improve young lives, as well as our economy. Technical education should be widely available to students at every level of career development, an area where Tennessee excels.
The federal government's first priority is national security. Strong borders, including domestic law enforcement, are necessary to protect Americans from hostile adversaries, drug and human traffickers, and unfair foreign labor competition. Our immigration policy should reflect the security and economic interests of United States citizens. I support building a physical wall along the Mexican border, increasing agents and technology, and quickly arresting and deporting criminal aliens.
Middle-class families depend on affordable, reliable energy to prosper. In the United States, our natural resources are abundant, and as important to national security as to our economy. To wean our country off foreign oil, and lower fuel prices for everything from groceries to heavy machinery, I support safe domestic production. In Congress, I have voted to permit new pipeline construction, authorize international gas exports, and protect dependable energy, such as coal and nuclear, so important to Tennessee. Supplying our allies with American-made energy helps cement alliances.
Under Donald Trump, we're finally seeing price decreases. There are more, cheaper generic drugs. Finally, customers can purchase health insurance across state lines. There are short-term, flexible plans available for those unable to afford Obamacare's high premiums and deductibles. The individual mandate tax is gone. Protecting people with pre-existing conditions is possible without Obamacare and high taxes on income-earners. Rather than increase government bureaucracy, we must return power to patients and their doctors to lower prices for insurance, services, and to accelerate innovation. Numerous times, I have voted for free-market reforms that respect every American's right to make his or her own health care decisions
The Constitution is a truly genius document, ensuring limited government and individual rights. In Congress, I'm fighting for Tennesseans' right to bear arms, freedom of speech and assembly, and religion. Only Congress, not the courts or executive branch, make law, and states should be laboratories of democracy. Personal freedom includes free enterprise. When voting, I always consider my Oath of Office to uphold the Constitution and work to hold federal agencies to the same high standard.
I believe in peace through strength, the idea that America's military is essential to our protection against foreign enemies, and projecting power prevents threats from materializing in the first place. On the House Armed Services Committee, I am a proud member of the Subcommittees on Strategic Forces, as well as Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities, overseeing many advanced weapons systems. Tennessee's Aerospace and Defense Technology Corridor, including Fort Campbell, Arnold Air Force Base, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and even Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, is a high-tech research center and important job engine. Making sure brave Tennesseans have the best tools to defend our country is my mission in Congress.
Tennessee is a leading agricultural state, a major producer of cattle, poultry, soybeans, cotton, tobacco, and timber, among other goods. On the House Agriculture Committee, I oversee efforts to open foreign markets, enforce free and fair trade, and increase economic opportunities in rural America, including infrastructure such as broadband, and education. Crop insurance and other regulations should benefit producers, consumers, and taxpayers alike. Also overseeing food assistance programs, my job is to make sure federal policies incentivize growth and jobs, not government dependence.