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Weekly Round[s] Up: November 13-19, 2023

We had another busy week in the United States Senate this past week. As you may have heard, we passed a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government open and funded past the November 17 deadline. More on that later. Beyond that, we spent time visiting with South Dakotans, meeting with experts in artificial intelligence (AI) and spectrum, attending hearings and briefings and even passing some legislation through committee. Now, I’m back in South Dakota to spend Thanksgiving at home with family before heading back to Washington to wrap up the last few weeks before the new year. Here’s my Weekly Round[s] Up:

South Dakotans I visited with: Representatives from Farm Credit Services of America, who are from Brookings, Madison, Spearfish and Watertown.

Meetings this past week: Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, Director of the National Institutes of Health; John Stankey, CEO of AT&T; Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin; Peter Shen, Head of Digital Health at Siemens Healthineers; Michelle Donelan, the United Kingdom’s Secretary of State for Science, Innovation and Technology; Bruce Carnegie-Brown, Chairman of Lloyd’s of London; Members of Canada’s House of Commons Special Committee on the Canada-People’s Republic of China Relationship; Jennifer Warren, Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and Public Policy at Lockheed Martin; and representatives from Satander Bank, including US CEO Tim Wennes.

This past weekend, I attended the Halifax International Security Forum, an annual meeting of the United States and our allies to address the most pressing national security challenges facing our country and examine opportunities for collaboration in addressing these threats. As the United States faces growing and coordinated threats from our near-peer competitors, such as China and Russia, this meeting continues to be a critically important assembly of our global partners. I had the opportunity to speak on a panel discussing Allies’ Access to Innovation, specifically artificial intelligence. You can view the full panel here (starting at around the 30 minute mark).

We also had our Senate Bible Study (our verse of the week was John 13:35) and our Senate Prayer Breakfast (Senator Bill Hagerty of Tennessee was our speaker).

Tackling the fentanyl crisis: As you may know, President Joe Biden met with President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China in San Francisco this past week. I led my colleagues in sending a letter to President Biden asking him to urge President Xi to do more to stop the flow of precursor chemicals that are sent from the PRC to Mexico. These chemicals are used to manufacture deadly drugs, which are then trafficked across our southern border. You can read more about this here, along with the full text of the letter. I was pleased to see that President Biden and President Xi addressed this in their meeting, with President Xi agreeing to crack down on Chinese companies that produce these precursor chemicals.  

Fentanyl and other deadly drugs have a devastating effect on our communities and our families, including one South Dakota family who shared their story with Keloland. You can read that here.

Votes taken: 6 – most notably on the CR to fund the government into early 2024. As you may remember from my Round[s] Up a couple of weeks ago, the traditional government funding process consists of passing 12 appropriation bills, each corresponding with a subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee. The CR we passed this week sets a January 19, 2024, deadline for four of these: agriculture, energy-water, military construction-VA and transportation/housing and urban development. The other eight bills have a deadline of February 2, 2024.

Hearings: I attended three hearings this past week. Two of them were in the Select Committee on Intelligence. One was in the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, where I had the opportunity to serve as Ranking Member. We heard from witnesses such as Michael Barr with the Federal Reserve and Martin Gruenberg who chairs the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. I asked them questions about the burdensome regulations impacting local banks, small businesses and consumers. You can watch my opening statement for that hearing here and my questioning here.

Classified Briefings: I had two classified briefings this past week. One was related to my work in the Select Committee on Intelligence. The other was on spectrum.

Letter to DOD Secretary Austin: I joined 27 of my Republican colleagues in sending a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin denouncing the Department of Defense’s policy of paying the travel expenses of those service members and dependents seeking abortions. You can read the full text of the letter here.

Legislation introduced: This past week, I introduced legislation with Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to strengthen tribal economic development programs at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Rural Economic-Development Assistance and Consultation to Help (REACH) Our Tribes Act would improve USDA’s tribal consultation, data reporting and interagency collaboration for economic development. You can read more about the REACH Our Tribes Act here.

Legislation passed: Earlier this year, I introduced the Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act. This legislation would place the 40-acre site of the Wounded Knee Massacre into restricted fee status and preserve the site for future tribal generations. This would allow the tribes to own the land outright, while also keeping protections in place, such as a restriction on alienation and taxation from any state or local government. This past week, this legislation unanimously passed the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and will head to the Senate floor. I’m pleased that we’re one step closer to placing important protections on this sacred site.

My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen, Colton, Milesville, Sioux Falls and Wall.

Steps taken this past week: 53,995 steps or 26.44 miles

Photo of the week:

Halifax Security Forum

Speaking at the Halifax International Security Forum.