As prepared for delivery
Thank you so much for having me here today. And thank you to those of you in this room who create jobs.
You are the reason the American Dream is alive – giving people the opportunity to work hard, get ahead, and provide for their families. To me, that is the true spirit of enterprise, and our community is grateful.
I am incredibly honored to receive this award. I like to joke that this is certainly not a participation trophy; you have to earn it.
So, I thank the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for this recognition of the work we’ve done together to pass pro-growth policies and make this country stronger.
As you may know, I started my career in the private sector. I left it briefly after the September 11th attacks to work in national security at the Pentagon, but I have spent most of adult life in business.
I’ve consulted for Fortune 500 companies and counseled small startups.
I’ve started my own business and turned around others.
I’ve helped entrepreneurs get the capital they need to start or grow their enterprise, especially women and people of color.
My brother owns his own business, and, to top it all off, I married a small business owner.
In fact, it was his small business that brought us down to central Florida to start our family.
So, I know all too well that a small business is a family affair. I also know the reward of giving someone a paycheck. I know the risk required to grow. And, I certainly know the challenges in keeping the doors open.
I know how well-intended legislation can have unintended consequences.
I understand how inaction can lead to an economic crisis and how overreaction can hurt an economic recovery.
I’ve seen how dumb decisions on Capitol Hill can have real-life repercussions on Main Street.
And, I’ve experienced how duplicative, unnecessary, out-of-date, or overly-burdensome regulations can strangle innovation.
I share this with you because I believe it is these life experiences that help me be a better legislator; to understand the real-world implications of decisions in Washington.
And that’s why my focus is on working with both parties to pass commonsense legislation that grows our economy for everyone.
My approach to legislating is simple: I don’t care if it’s a Democratic idea, and I don’t care if it’s a Republican idea. I only care if it’s a good idea and if it moves this country forward.
Since taking office in January, I am proud of my record of bipartisan results as a member of the House Small Business Committee – empowering entrepreneurs, helping small businesses grow, and repealing burdensome regulations that hurt economic growth.
I passed a law to modernize the SBA microloan program, which helps aspiring and existing small business owners obtain low-interest loans.
I passed a measure to help innovative small businesses get grants and contracts from federal agencies in order to develop high-tech products that strengthen our national security.
I passed a law that improves training for departing servicemembers so they are better prepared to attend school, learn a trade, or open a small business when they return home.
And, I passed a law that increases funding for SBA’s veteran outreach initiatives to help more veterans start or grow their own small business.
All-in-all, I’m proud to have passed 14 legislative measures into law since taking office last January.
In fact, an outside group ranked me as the most effective House freshman and the seventh most bipartisan member in the entire U.S. Congress. And I believe these two things go hand in hand.
I share that statistic, because I often make the point that I am effective because I am bipartisan. Bipartisanship is important because not only does it break the gridlock, but it also adds certainty that new laws endure.
As a businessperson, you have to plan for the future. You think in five and ten-year business plans. But it’s nearly impossible to plan for the future when Congress swings wildly between the left and right every two or four years.
American businesses should not be punished by the swinging pendulum of partisan politics.
Passing a bipartisan law means we have a greater chance of getting it right the first time and less of a chance for it to be completely dismantled a few years later – bringing much-needed stability to our political system and our economy.
I care deeply for this country, and I feel passionately about our system of free enterprise. It’s not just professional for me; it’s also personal. My family has experienced the alternative first hand, and it isn’t pretty.
We fled Communist Vietnam when I was baby because my parents wanted my brother and me to have a better life than they had. They wanted us to have choice, opportunity, and success.
They wanted us to have a shot at the American Dream. And I am eternally grateful for the risks they took to get us here, and I’m incredibly proud to be an American.
I am also grateful to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, and many of you in this room for helping keep the American Dream alive. It is the cornerstone of our great American experiment.
What makes this nation special is our belief that we are all created equal – that our station in life is not permanent and that success is not a zero-sum game. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
When our neighbors succeed, our own success is compounded. When our employees do well, our businesses do well. And when businesses grow stronger, so does our nation.
We must protect and expand the American Dream. But let me be clear: the American Dream is not easy, nor should it be. It should be hard. It should require work. That’s what makes it special when it’s attained.
But it should not be impossible. And, for too many families in this nation, the American Dream is impossible; it’s out of reach. We have to change that.
As long as I have a seat in Congress, you will have an ally working with you to make the American Dream attainable for all who are willing to work for it.
I look forward to continuing to work with all of you in this room to keep moving our nation forward, to ensure every American has a fair shot and equal opportunity to get ahead, and, to ensure the spirit of enterprise is alive and well in central Florida and across America.
Thank you again for this honor. I am truly grateful.
God bless you all.