There's nothing more important for our kids' future—and our country's economic success—than a world-class education. Unfortunately our current education policy, commonly referred to as "No Child Left Behind," simply isn't working.
So after focusing for four years on ways to provide much-needed reform to our education system, I'm pleased that last week we passed a bill out of the Senate Education Committee to do just that.
I'm also happy that provisions I authored to improve testing, strengthen school leadership, increase access to school-based mental health programs, make college more affordable, and prevent discrimination in schools are included in the bill.
It's clear that we need to replace "No Child Left Behind" and give schools the tools to make sure that every child in Minnesota and across the country has access to high-quality education from early childhood through graduation.
Farmers in Minnesota and across the country need certainty. And I'm proud to say that the Senate passed a bipartisan five-year Farm Bill, helping give confidence to Minnesota's ag industry, farmers, and rural communities. It reforms federal farm programs, strengthens the farm safety net, and cuts $24 billion in spending.
I authored the energy section of the bill, which helps produce jobs and economic growth in Minnesota's ag energy sector. Minnesota has been a leader in renewable energy and these programs will help our state grow. It's also good for our national security because it will decrease our dependency on foreign oil.
I'm very proud to have helped successfully defeat an attempt to gut the U.S. sugar program, which is vital to protecting American sugar and keeping Minnesota jobs from being shipped overseas.
But this Farm Bill doesn't solve every problem, which is why I've to take immediate action to help alleviate the feed and forage shortage facing livestock producers in southern Minnesota. I know how serious this problem is, and I'll be doing everything I can to find a solution.
The House is set to take up a full Farm Bill and I hope that they pass it soon so our farmers and rural communities have the certainty they need to plan for the future.
This month, I've asked my staff to hold a series of roundtables throughout Minnesota to hear from local veterans about, among many things, the effects of the VA benefit claims backlog. Recently I introduced legislation with Congressman Tim Walz (D-Minn.), who represents southern Minnesota, to help clear up the backlog, which has led to a nearly 300-day average wait time for a veteran's benefit claim to be processed. We have a responsibility to take care of the men and women who have served our nation, and right now veterans are waiting too long to start receiving the benefits they've earned.
I also asked my staff to update Minnesota's veterans on the many other efforts I'm working on, such as legislation I'll soon be reintroducing to increase access to health care for veterans in rural areas.
We owe our veterans a lot, and I'm committed to finding ways to ensure that we keep our promises to them.