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A new year and a new Congress are just around the corner. Nancy Pelosi will become Speaker next week, and its uncertain if she’ll want to work with President Trump on common ground for the American people, or if she will use her power to obstruct the president and fight him on behalf of her friends running for president.

Despite the uncertainty in Congress, I closed 2018 how I have spent much of the year — meeting with folks in southern Missouri and holding public forums so I can hear thoughts and ideas directly from the people I represent.

I’m thankful for all the folks who joined me at Dottie’s Family Restaurant in Cuba and Jen’s Diner in Poplar Bluff this week to talk about the ongoing border security debate. We discussed how the government shutdown is impacting folks here at home, how arcane Senate rules are stopping us from sending a bill with border security funding to President Trump, and the real effects of an under-secured border that can be seen here in Missouri. The chief of police in Poplar Bluff shared how he has seen firsthand an influx in illicit drugs from Mexico that have wreaked havoc on our communities here at home.

We used the forums as an opportunity to discuss other major issues important to families in southern Missouri — the poverty trap, repealing burdensome regulations from Washington, and commonsense work requirements for government aid that would save taxpayer dollars and encourage people to enter the workforce. I hold these public forums so I can relay directly to President Trump what Missourians are telling me on the ground.

We’re fortunate to have a president who cares about rural America and Missouri specifically, and I’ve held public forums all year so Missourians can have a direct line of communication to the White House. In the 115th Congress I held forums on lowering health care costs, on reducing the tax burden on middle America, and this summer I held more than thirty events in thirty counties meeting with family farmers, agricultural businesses, and farm organizations that are the lifeblood of our communities and our economy.

A lot of thoughts and ideas were shared at the forums this week, which I am eager to share with the White House. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that politicians will fund themselves and green light electric vehicle tax credits, cash payments to the hostile Iranian regime, and infrastructure in other countries before they will consider securing our own border.

Thankfully the brave men and women in the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Patrol care about our national security and keep our country safe every day — it’s unfortunate that because my Democrat colleagues don’t want to secure our southern border, agents will be working without pay over the holidays.

It’s further proof that liberals don’t support the men and women who monitor our borders for threats. A recent survey from the National Border Patrol Council found roughly 90 percent of border patrol agents believe more physical barriers are necessary to properly secure the southern border. In solidarity with these agents, I will be giving up pay every day that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer keep part of the government closed over partisan politics.

Even though Nancy and Chuck have kept 25 percent of the government closed, my office remains open so I can continue to serve the good people of southern Missouri. You can still contact my office if you’re having any trouble with a federal agency or want to share your views with me.

If you would like to tell me what you’d like to see in a deal to secure the border and reopen the government, drop me a note at www.JasonSmith.House.Gov/Contact. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives, let’s take on the new year together!

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