It is hard to believe 2017 is coming to a close. In the final days of a whirlwind year in Congress, we fulfilled our commitment to send tax reform to President Trump’s desk. This bill to overhaul our broken and overly burdensome tax code for the first time in a generation will grow economic opportunity and improve the lives of people across America.

The challenges we had to overcome to deliver this long-awaited relief for taxpayers were similar to what President Ronald Reagan faced 31 years ago when he signed the last major tax reform legislation into law. I reflected on his persistence often throughout our work.

As President Reagan said when signing the Tax Reform Act of 1986, “The journey’s been long, and many said we’d never make it to the end. But as usual the pessimists left one thing out of their calculations: the American people.”

Thankfully, as they so often do, his words ring true today. A simpler, pro-growth tax code to help more Americans get ahead and increase our country’s economic standing is once again a reality.

It seems especially fitting this year to continue my tradition of sharing one of President Reagan’s Christmas addresses. He gave the following speech upon lighting the national Christmas tree in 1984, and I hope his words bring you as much joy and inspiration as they did for me. We are truly blessed to live in the greatest country in the world.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Nebraskans.

President Ronald Reagan's remarks on lighting the national Christmas tree on Dec. 13, 1984

"Thank all of you so much for being here. In just a moment I’m going to push the button that lights the National Christmas Tree. This is an old White House tradition I’m happy to continue.

"… I guess we all have our own favorite Christmas memories, for this is the time of year when most of us try to be better than our everyday selves.

"For the past few years in this great house, I’ve thought of our first real Christmas as a nation. It was the dark and freezing Christmas of 1776, when General Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware. They and Providence gave our nation its first Christmas gift – a victory that brought us closer to liberty, the condition in which God meant man to flourish.

"It always seems to me that Christmas is a time of magic. Each December we celebrate a Prince, the Prince of Peace, born in utter poverty. And the fact of his birth makes hearts turn warmest at the coldest time of the year.

"… Over the next few weeks let us all remember those who serve our country abroad – the 800,000 men and women in uniform, the members of our Foreign Service, the people who work in our information agencies throughout the world, and the men and women in the Peace Corps. Even though they can’t be at the table this Christmas, they must not be far from our hearts. And let me add, there is no one we hold in our hearts more closely than those MIAs – those missing in action in Southeast Asia, some of whom may be serving our country still. They, too, are absent at the table, and the gathering will never be complete until they return or are accounted for.

"Now, I know you’re all waiting, and in the immortal words of the astronaut Alan Shepard, “I’m going to stop talking and light the candle.” Light it in a nation at peace, a nation united, for the ties that bind still bind. So, now I light the nation’s Christmas tree. May its thousand lights illuminate our best resolves and cast a great glow on our affection for each other, and our thanks for each other, and our love."

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