So far, it has been the honor of a lifetime to represent you in Congress and bring some East Tennessee values to Washington, D.C.

As the United States continues down the road to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, we must think about ways to increase economic development and create jobs. If we want to see a strong economy, like the one under President Trump’s leadership pre-COVID-19, we must foster an environment with fewer regulations, less bureaucracy, and less government overreach.

I was recently appointed to the House Committee on Education and Labor, where I will focus on common-sense solutions to better align workforce development programs, including apprenticeships, to address the skill requirements for the in-demand, high-paying jobs of today’s economy.

Another priority of mine will be to look for solutions to the opioid epidemic, which is devastating our communities here in East Tennessee. Nationwide, opioid overdoses claimed the lives of almost 47,000 Americans in 2018, and there have been reports of a spike in overdose deaths during the pandemic.

As a pharmacist, I have seen the devastation firsthand far too many times. The first step in solving this crisis is to secure our border to stop the flow of illicit drugs, including fentanyl and heroin, into our country. I was recently appointed to the Homeland Security Committee, where I, and our community, will have a voice in the debate on how to best improve border security. This will include opposing President Biden’s radical open border policies such as halting construction of President Trump’s border wall.

Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the desperate need for improved access to broadband in rural communities. Many aspects of life have moved online, from education to medicine, and some may stay that way even when things return to normal.

I’ve heard stories about how many of our local students have had to go to a Walmart or McDonalds parking lot to download their school assignments because they lack access to internet at home. This is why I joined the rural broadband caucus and signed a letter to President Biden asking him to consider the dire need for improved access to broadband in communities like East Tennessee when considering infrastructure improvements.

I am deeply committed to serving you all. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if we can ever help you with anything, if you’d like to provide feedback on the issues important to you, or to just say hello. Remember, you all are at the top of my agenda when I cast a vote, sign my name to legislation, or discuss how to best solve the challenges our nation is facing.

Congresswoman Diana Harshbarger represents Tennessee’s First Congressional District. She is a member of the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Committee on Homeland Security.

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