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Rounds Delivers Maiden Speech on Senate Floor

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D., today delivered his maiden speech on the Senate floor to discuss the bipartisan RESTORE Resolution, which seeks to free Americans from overregulation. RESTORE would establish a Joint Select Committee to conduct a comprehensive review of rules enacted by federal agencies and analyze the feasibility and options for creating a rules review process in congress. 

Remarks as Prepared for Delivery:

Madam President, I rise today, for the first time speaking in this chamber, to discuss the future of our great nation.

How truly fortunate we are to live in the greatest country in the world.

We are protected by the best military that has ever existed, and that in turn allows us to live freely here at home to focus on our God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

In my home state of South Dakota, we cherish these rights.

We have the opportunity to make our dreams come true because we have these rights, and because we have a common-sense value system to guide us.

When I was elected, I promised to bring South Dakota common sense to Washington and to work to solve problems for the good of every South Dakotan and every American.


But, unfortunately Madam President, when I travel back home, I continue to hear from my fellow South Dakotans about the federal government infringing on these rights and values.

You see, our great nation has been bogged down in recent years with what I believe is one of the greatest hindrances to job growth and economic productivity.

And that is the overregulation of our citizens.

Madam President, overregulation is not a Democrat or Republican issue; it’s an issue that affects every one of us.


But I believe it’s a challenge that we can solve through cooperation and perseverance.


It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a doctor, a small business owner, a farmer or a rancher; overregulation has affected every sector of our society.


The regulatory burden on this country is nearly two trillion dollars annually, and this is in addition to the tax burden already placed on Americans.


That regulatory burden is larger than Canada’s entire economy.

In fact, this cost to comply with federal regulations is larger than the entire G-D-P of all but only 8 other countries in the world.


Even more staggering, just a few years ago, we surpassed 1 million federal regulations in America. One million.


Regulations are stifling economic growth and innovation and hurting the future of this country by crushing the can-do American spirit that founded our nation, settled the West, won two world wars and put a man on the moon.


And every year, more than 3,500 new federal regulations are added.

This just doesn’t make sense and it’s certainly not South Dakota common sense


What alarms me is not only the volume of regulations being thrust upon our citizens, but also the process for creating them.

The purpose of Congress is to be the voice of the people when making laws.


Unfortunately, the voice of the people in the rulemaking process has been cut out, and replaced by unelected government bureaucrats who think they know better than the farmer or scientist or the entrepreneur.


Our founders recognized the need for making laws, granting the power to create laws to Congress; and only Congress.

They meant that process to be difficult so that our government wouldn’t overburden its citizens and restrict their freedom; freedom they had just fought so hard to obtain.


Through Congress, every citizen should have a voice.


But, unfortunately, Madam President, that is not what is happening today.

Our founding fathers created 3 branches of government with checks and balances for each. 


They could never have imagined that we would have a regulatory process in place today where unelected bureaucrats would both write and have the final approval of the rules and regulations under which the people must live.


This regulatory regime – which is responsible for the 3,500 new rules each year – has essentially become a fourth branch of government and a de-facto legislative body.


The problem is exacerbated by the fact that these bureaucrats in Washington have this misperception that they know how to run our lives better than we do.


While working as a business owner, a state legislator, as a governor and now a United States Senator, I’ve seen just how detrimental this “Washington knows best” mentality is on the daily lives of South Dakotans and Americans. 


Many of my friends - on both sides of the aisle - have come to the Senate floor in recent weeks and months with some great ideas and legislation to limit, stop, repeal or remove some of the worst regulations currently on the books.


I applaud them for these efforts, many of which I also support.


And I look forward to working with the Senior Senator from South Dakota, my friend Senator John Thune, as well as anyone who is willing to work with me to remove these burdens that are stunting American greatness and bring a little South Dakota common sense back to our regulatory environment.


The regulatory system has run amuck.


Too often, Madam President, burdensome, costly and intrusive regulations are crafted by bureaucrats at the highest level of government, behind closed doors, with little input from everyday Americans who disproportionately feel the effects of these one-size fits-all policies.


It is regulation without representation, and it is wrong.


The American people are being squeezed out, their voice falling on deaf ears in Washington.  


Small businesses, which drive our economy and create the majority of jobs in America, are especially hurt by overregulation because they, too, have to hire lawyers and employees to comply with these rules.


This takes away capitol that could be used to hire new production employees and expand their business.


People in my home state of South Dakota feel victimized by their own federal government.


It is keeping crops from getting to market, and it’s keeping our businesses from growing.


The idea that unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats should be allowed to make sweeping rules and regulations with no recourse should be a concern to every American, regardless of political affiliation….because it impacts everyone.


No party has a lock on the American dream and American innovation doesn’t have a party affiliation.


From the stack of paperwork required to process a bank loan to the regulatory price of putting food on the table, the cost of federal regulations are ultimately passed down to each and every American.


Without excessive regulation, imagine how much more money American families could have in their pockets to spend on what they want, instead of what the government wants.


If we cut our red tape, families can stop having to cut their budgets.


The regulatory regime is a dark cloud over our entire economy.


Now, I’m not saying there isn’t a place for rules in our society.


Rules are meant to keep us safe and promote the greater good.


And, I do believe there are some good rules and regulations on the books.


The problem I have is with the bad rules that keep good people from going about their lives.


Unfortunately, there are too many of these bad rules that are hindering our freedoms and stifling growth.


These are the regulations that we must reexamine.


So today, Madam President, I come to the floor to discuss legislation to permanently end regulation without representation.


It takes a giant leap forward in restoring the people’s role in the rulemaking process, and provides a way to reexamine the bad ones.


After all if the American people don’t like the laws we make, they can vote us out.


But they have no such power with unelected bureaucrats.  They’re stuck!


You see, Madam President, the legislation I am introducing today would create a Joint Select Committee on Regulatory Reform whose purpose includes reviewing regulations currently on the books and proposing a new rules review process that includes the elected representatives of the American people.


It’s rooted in South Dakota common-sense and the principles that have made this country great—making government work for Americans rather than against them.  


This committee would then make several recommendations to congress to rebalance this broken regulatory scheme:


First, the committee would be tasked with exploring options for Congress to review regulations written by agencies before they are enacted, providing much-needed oversight through the possibility of a Permanent Joint Rules Review Committee, which would be tasked with reviewing rules with a cost of $50 million dollars or more.  This Permanent Joint Rules Review Committee would have the ability to delay the imposition of these rules for not more than one year from the time the agency submits the rule for review to enable Congress to act on that rule.


Second, the Committee would examine an option for agencies to submit each regulation with a $50 million dollar impact or more to the appropriate committees of Congress for review – before the rule is enacted.


And finally, the Joint Select Committee could recommend ways to reduce the financial burden regulations place on the economy as well as sunsetting onerous and outdated ones.


This Joint Select Committee would not be a permanent one – but it would be bipartisan, bicameral and hold meaningful hearings so that a permanent solution to our overregulation problem can be properly addressed. 


This legislation also offers a starting point for the committee by requiring certain possible solutions to our regulatory problem to be considered.


I firmly believe that regulations should be reviewed by elected officials – those who are accountable to the American people through the democratic process.


This is not a new concept; it is a common practice at the state level. 


41 of the 50 states, including my home state of South Dakota, have a rules review process to make sure the executive branch is faithfully executing the laws they seek to implement.


It is worth repeating that regulations are estimated to cost $1.88 trillion annually in the United States – above and beyond the tax burden our citizens already share.


That amounts to just under $5 billion dollars every single day. And it just doesn’t make sense.


It is unfair to those who still believe in - and are working to achieve the American Dream.


Whether Americans are seeking to buy a car, take out a mortgage on a house, start a business or see the doctor to make sure they are in good health, regulations obstruct them.


When I think of those who sacrificed everything so that our children and grandchildren could create their own version of the American Dream, I think about the freedoms and liberties they fought so bravely for.

They fought so we could pursue life, liberty and happiness and trust that our government would not hinder these lifelong endeavors.

It is not Washington that will continue to make this country great, but rather the collective spirit of individual Americans, who want to work hard to be successful for their families and their communities.


But they need the heavy hand of government to be lifted.


Here in Washington, it is not our job to dictate how Americans run their lives, but to allow them to achieve their dreams, not make them nightmares.


The term “Washington is broken” is a far-too-common term used to describe the current state of our federal government.


“Washington” is now used in a derogatory manner.


This city – the capitol of our nation – named after our very first Commander in Chief      who led us to victory in the Revolutionary War and birthed this great nation – has become over time, a 4-letter word.


Remember, George Washington left the presidency voluntarily after two terms in office.


He wanted to get away from the monarch-style of government in which rulers held their positions for life. 


And now, this city that bears his name is full of lifelong bureaucrats. Even worse, they are unaccountable to the people.


It is a far cry from the republic our founders envisioned.


Madam President, in 2026 our country will celebrate its 250th birthday. That is just over a decade away.


When we get to that point, I hope to join my fellow Americans in looking back with great pride in all we have accomplished, and all we have to pass on to future generations. 


President Kennedy challenged our nation to put a man on the moon before the decade of the 60’s had passed. 


We should commit ourselves to removing the barrier of government regulations that is weighing on that American spirit and again set free the American economy before the decade preceding our 250th birthday.


I’m not just introducing legislation to start a new committee that exists in name and does no deed. Americans want us and expect us to be up to this challenge, and we can. We can lift the heavy hand of government.


The founding fathers didn’t anticipate thousands of regulators and a million regulations when they created this country.


It’s time to end regulation without representation and restore the lawmaking process to the people.


I encourage my colleagues to sign onto this commonsense approach to addressing the issue of overregulation, so we can work to make this country even greater and safer than we found it.


Then, during our 250th birthday celebration, we can be proud that we RESTORED a little South Dakota and American common sense to our children and their children.


Thank you, Madam President. I yield the floor.

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