U.S. Sen. John McCain

J. Scott Applewhite

The next Congress convenes in deeply challenging times for Arizona and America. We face real and growing challenges: from the "fiscal cliff" to a struggling economy to national security threats around the world.

Jobs and the economy dominated the national discussion during the 2012 campaign.

Unfortunately, unemployment is still too high and economic growth too slow. I will continue to support policies to grow the economy and alleviate some of the financial strain on Arizona families.

I will also continue to aggressively advocate for critical Arizona priorities such as the Resolution Copper Mine - which would bring thousands of jobs to one of the most hard-hit areas of our state.

Immigration and border security remain critical issues that I am committed to addressing this year.

The good news is that illegal immigration is at an all-time low, making now the time to dedicate the needed technology and resources to finally secure the border for good.

As border security improves, I look forward to working in a bipartisan manner to fix our broken immigration system and address the millions of people living in the United States outside of legal status.

We are proud of Arizona's many contributions to our nation's security. In 2012 we welcomed the first operational units of the F-35 "Lightning II" Joint Strike Fighter to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma.

I hope that the Air Force will choose Tucson as the location for international F-35 training, so we can continue to make the most of everything that Arizona has to offer our military.

Arizona faces unique resource challenges. I will work with Arizona's water users to respond to Bureau of Reclamation warnings that water imbalances could hit the Colorado River by 2060.

I will continue to oppose EPA's regulatory overreach, like those affecting the Apache Generating Station, which would increase energy prices in the state, and I plan to work with the Forest Service to prioritize forest restoration efforts in Arizona.

This list of priorities is by no means comprehensive - we need to engage in a national conversation on the causes of tragedies such as those in Tucson and Newtown; we need a to fix the debt and deficit problem threatening future generations; we need to break the partisan gridlock and work together to address the nation's toughest challenges.

We don't know what other challenges 2013 will bring, but I promise to always put our state and nation first. Serving the people of Arizona has been the great honor of my life, and I look forward to the work ahead.

John McCain, a Republican, is the senior senator from Arizona.