HUDSON: Celebrating our military this Christmas

The holiday season is upon us, and it is easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of this busy time of year. Whether it’s decorating the house, shopping for gifts for family, or squeezing in a little more work before the year’s end, we all have a lot on our plates. Congress is no exception — there are still some big-ticket items we need to accomplish before Christmas, and I spent last week working on several efforts that will have a direct impact here at home.

There’s not a congressional district in the country with a stronger and deeper military tradition than the 8th District I proudly represent — and when I’m in Washington, I make sure everyone knows it. That’s why I was pleased to see President Donald Trump sign the National Defense Authorization (NDAA) into law last week. Recognizing the fact that our men and women in uniform are the main reason our country is free, we gave our troops the largest pay increase in more than eight years. We also included critical benefits to military families and spouses who bear a significant burden here at home while loved ones are deployed.

Another issue I hear about constantly here at home is the rising price of prescription medications. Last week, the Energy and Commerce’s Subcommittee on Health, of which I am a member, held a hearing on the drug supply chain and drug pricing with various stakeholders — drug manufacturers, insurance providers, hospitals, pharmacists and consumers. I pressed the panel on how we can help lower out-of-pocket drug costs for folks on high-deductible plans. The responses I heard were encouraging, but I know we have a long way to go. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to find solutions to help Americans reduce their health care expenses.

On the floor of the House of Representatives last week, we considered four bills from the Financial Services Committee to help ease the burdens on consumers and ensure you have access to the resources you need. From providing mortgage relief to your local community bank to guaranteeing customers’ due process rights are protected, these bills will help increase your ability to borrow money and to protect yourself and your family.

Additionally, two other bills we passed took steps to check the power of the Iranian regime, the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism. These efforts will help shed light on the finances of Iran and how they receive money to fund their terrorist network. This will help provide a valuable window into the corrupt business practices of their leaders and hold this country accountable.

Finally, last week I received encouraging news from the secretary of the Army who called to let me know he has decided to activate the second Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) in our district at Fort Bragg. The SFAB is a new type of unit that will focus on the ability to train, advise and assist our allies around the world. This will have a significant impact on the readiness of our nation’s forces and help ease the burden of continuous operations in multiple theatres. These new units are on the cutting-edge of 21st-century military strategy, so it makes perfect sense that the Army chose Fort Bragg — the epicenter of the universe — as the home for a new SFAB.

As we enjoy the Christmas season, I hope you will join me in remembering these men and women who serve in our nation’s military. We pray for the soldiers who are deployed and unable to spend the holidays with their families. We are so grateful for them and their service.