WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) delivered his Maiden Speech from the Senate floor. Ricketts highlighted his guiding values, hopes for America’s future, and priorities in the United States Senate.
“In Nebraska, we respect people’s freedom. We value strong communities, faith, and family. We honor our law enforcement and military. We expect a limited, accountable government. We believe in personal accountability and responsibility – and the boundless potential of the individual,” Ricketts said. “Nebraska is what America is supposed to be.”
Ricketts emphasized the importance of individual liberty and American exceptionalism.
“In America, it doesn’t matter where you start. With enough grit and hard work, you can go anywhere,” Ricketts said. “That’s why the world wants to come here. That’s why they send their very best students to study and train here. It’s why nearly every major innovation and breakthrough comes from America. It’s why so many seek out better lives in America. Through our strength, we remain the cornerstone of global peace and prosperity.”
Ricketts also touched on bringing the lessons he learned as Governor to the U.S. Senate. Ricketts outlined some of the most pressing policy challenges facing the nation and Nebraska including reckless spending, inflation, high taxes, rising interest rates, and the ongoing crisis at the border. During his comments on the border, Ricketts shared the story of Nebraskan Taryn Lee Griffith, who lost her life to a fentanyl overdose.
As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ricketts also spent time explaining his view of America’s role in the world and the global threats we face today:
“This administration’s incompetence at our southern border is matched by its blunders in foreign policy… Our allies are seriously questioning America’s commitments to our friends. Even worse, the bad guys – our adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party, regimes in Russia, Iran, and North Korea – are questioning our resolve. Our freedoms and our way of life depend on peace. And how do we maintain peace? We maintain peace through our strength.”
Ricketts closed his speech with his main priority, making the American Dream a real possibility for all Nebraskans and Americans.
“In spite of the challenges we face, I believe there has never been a better time to be an American. However, many don’t feel this way. We need to make the American Dream real for them. Throughout our history, we’ve risen to meet every challenge. With our founding values as our guide, we will again rise to meet this moment.”
SEN. RICKETTS MAIDEN SPEECH AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
I rise today, humbled and honored to stand in this chamber to represent the people of the Great State of Nebraska.
The first time I walked into this chamber it gave me chills. This Chamber – this Capitol Building – represents the hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the American people.
It represents the values we’ve held for nearly two and a half centuries. It represents how exceptional our republic is and how exceptional America is.
Today, it’s all too easy to take for granted just how exceptional our country is.
Our founders threw off the tyranny of a king with an idea.
It was a really radical idea that our rights come to us directly from God – not from a king. That governments are instituted to protect those rights.
It was a brand-new idea. Our liberties are endowments from God, not concessions from government.
Even today, after 246 years, our founding principles are every bit as true.
These values – like rule of law, checks and balances, and federalism – are critical to our republic.
We’re strongest when we follow them. We’re never weaker than when we stray from them.
We’re also a strong nation because of our Constitution.
Our Constitution — forging a government of the people, by the people, for the people — is the greatest governing document ever written.
The primary purpose of our government is to secure people’s liberty and happiness – their peace and prosperity.
And we’ve done it really, really well for nearly two and a half centuries.
This is incredibly rare. We have created a bubble in the history of the world.
For most of human history, people worried someone bigger than them would come take their stuff or a foreign army would come and burn down the entire landscape.
Not here in America.
Another advantage of our system is it unleashes the power of individuals to achieve their full potential.
In America, it doesn’t matter where you start. With enough grit and hard work, you can go anywhere.
That’s why the world wants to come here. That’s why they send their very best students to study and train here.
That’s why nearly every major innovation and breakthrough comes from America.
It’s why so many seek better lives in our country.
Through our strength, we remain the cornerstone of global peace and prosperity.
Our greatness is also reflected in our commitment to defend freedom in this building, in our courts, and even on battlefields.
It requires much of us, as patriots and citizens.
And, if we’re not vigilant, it can easily slip away.
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We don’t pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. It has to be fought for each and every day.
We must not lose sight of what makes America so exceptional.
That is the commitment to our God-given individual liberties.
Our founders were concerned that as government got too big, it would tend toward tyranny and rob people of their freedoms.
Here in the Senate, if we continue allowing the federal government to grow too large and intrusive, we risk losing our peace and prosperity.
We risk losing the very values that have always made America great.
However, if we hold on to our founding principles, we have a path to an even brighter future for this great nation.
The framers of the Constitution believed that government closest to the people is best able to serve them.
It’s common sense. What works in Nebraska may not work in New York.
This is why we have the 10th Amendment to the Constitution – the powers not specifically delegated to the federal government are reserved for the states and the American people.
That’s why top-down, federal mandates usually do more harm than good.
In my home state of Nebraska, we’ve shown America what’s possible when the federal government gets out of the way and allows states to lead.
We’ve proven that limited and responsive government works best.
During my time as Governor, we kept the size and scope of government small. We empowered people.
We ran government more like a business. The reality is, when government works better, people are served better.
We dramatically improved the level of service provided to Nebraska families.
We got help to people in need faster than ever before.
For example, we reduced the on-hold time for families seeking economic assistance by 75%.
We made it easier for citizens and businesses to work with the state. As an example, we cut the time it takes to issue a permit in half.
And we achieved millions of dollars in savings as well.
You know what saving money allows you to do?
Give the people their tax dollars back.
We provided billions of dollars in tax relief – including tax relief for veterans and seniors by phasing out taxes on their retirement income and Social Security.
We attracted new investments and jobs to communities big and small.
We employed a record-number of Nebraskans and our state’s unemployment rate reached a historic low.
We made government work better.
We proved that we can do a better job of providing services while controlling our costs.
We also proved that we can respect people’s liberty and freedoms while keeping people safe.
During the pandemic, we kept kids in school, people at work, and government open. And we were rated the number one best pandemic response state.
All of this reflects Nebraska’s conservative values.
In Nebraska, we respect people’s freedom.
We value strong communities, faith, and family.
We honor our law enforcement and military.
We expect a limited, accountable government.
We believe in personal accountability and responsibility – and the boundless potential of the individual.
Nebraska is what America is supposed to be.
But nationally, we’ve strayed from those values.
Too many now take our freedoms for granted.
Too many focus not on what is good, but on their grievances.
Too often we hear resentment rather than reverence for the very principles that make this country great.
Too many have forgotten the old adage that a government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.
Massive and reckless spending to fund big government programs has seriously weakened our economy.
Families and businesses are struggling under the burden of high inflation, high taxes, and rising interest rates.
A wave of job-killing regulations from Washington is harming American agriculture and industry.
At the same time, the federal government is failing many of its most basic responsibilities – like keeping us safe.
Undeniably, national security is paramount to our nation’s freedom and prosperity. It’s the federal government’s most important responsibility.
But the Biden administration has turned a blind eye to the devastating humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border.
Vulnerable people are dying, exploited by the cartels. Fentanyl and other dangerous drugs are flooding into our nation.
So are suspects on our terrorist watch list.
What comes across our border doesn’t stay there. The drugs, the criminals, the human trafficking victims, they impact every community.
It’s costing Americans their lives.
Taryn Lee Griffith was a single mom of two. She was just 24 years old when she died of an overdose in Lincoln, Nebraska.
She took a prescription pill while out with friends. She had no idea that pill had been laced with a lethal dose of fentanyl.
Taryn’s mom, Liz, said, “Our daughter is everyone’s daughter.”
It’s true. Our sons and daughters, our friends and neighbors — they are paying the price for this crisis with their lives every day.
It’s shameful and unacceptable.
This administration’s incompetence at our southern border is matched by its blunders in foreign policy.
The disastrous, shameful withdrawal from Afghanistan projected weakness to our friends and adversaries.
American servicemembers lost their lives, including Nebraskan Corporal Daegan Page.
Unbelievably, we left Americans behind and abandoned our Afghani security partners.
Our allies are seriously questioning America’s commitments to our friends.
Even worse, the bad guys – our adversaries like the Chinese Communist Party, regimes in Russia, Iran, and North Korea – are questioning our resolve.
Our freedoms and way of life depend on peace.
And how do we maintain peace?
We maintain peace through our strength.
Not for the first time in our history, we find ourselves at a pivotal moment. Facing what Ronald Reagan would term, “A Time for Choosing.”
I believe the choice is clear.
We must chart a course for greater freedom and strength.
We must remain the world’s beacon of peace and prosperity.
It requires us to get back to basics – back to our founding values.
Those values guided me as governor, and they will guide me here.
As Governor, we spent eight years delivering on excellence.
I didn’t believe the naysayers then, and I don’t believe them now.
Government can work better, and it can do it while respecting our freedoms.
That’s the goal I will work toward each and every day.
I will strive to make the federal government work better for the people of this great nation.
I will reject every effort to restrict our liberties and undermine our values.
I will work to restore transparency and faith in the federal government.
I will work to control spending, curb unnecessary regulation, and limit the size and scope of government.
I will work to secure our borders and provide the resources to defend against our enemies.
I will work to assure that we have a well-trained, well-equipped and well-led military to defend us.
I will hold this and future administrations accountable to the people of Nebraska.
I will always fight for the best interests and freedoms of the Nebraskans I serve.
In spite of the challenges we face, I believe there has never been a better time to be an American.
However, many don’t feel this way. We need to make the American Dream real for them.
Throughout our history, we have risen to meet every challenge. With our founding values as our guide, we will again rise to meet the challenge of this moment.
My experience in the Senate so far has reaffirmed my faith that we have more in common than divides us.
With that joy and faith in our nation, I ask God to continue to bless the great state of Nebraska and the United States of America.