A Busy Fall Season in the Senate
The Senate is back in session, which means we are traveling back to Washington for votes, committee hearings and meetings with constituents who visit the Capitol to advocate for their issues. In August we had our in-state work period, which gave me the opportunity to meet with many South Dakotans in communities across the state. We attended fairs, met with veterans, spoke to community groups, held a field hearing to address the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ management of the Missouri River and simply visited with people over coffee. It is important to me to hear directly from South Dakotans about the issues they’re concerned with so I can work to address them when I’m in Washington. South Dakota is the best place in the world because of our people. I’m always grateful to South Dakotans who take time out of their busy lives to visit with me.
Now that we’re back in session, we’ve got a lot of work to get done. We will continue confirming federal judges, who will serve lifetime appointments. Congress must also finalize our annual appropriations bills. We passed a two-year budget agreement this summer that was negotiated by the president, House leadership and Senate leadership. The deal prioritizes spending for the military and for our veterans while simultaneously avoiding a default on our debt, taking steps to avoid an unnecessary and costly shutdown and ending the threat of sequestration for two years. Negotiators also agreed to no “poison pills” that could sink an appropriations bill by including partisan language. We’ll spend the next few weeks making progress on the appropriations bills and work to avoid a government shutdown this fall.
Finalizing the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, is a priority for me as well. Both the Senate and House passed their versions of the NDAA this summer, but we now must work out the differences between the two bills before they can be signed into law by the president. Historically, the NDAA is a bill that passes with strong support from both sides of the aisle, in both chambers of Congress. It includes provisions related to the next-generation stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider, which will be based at Ellsworth Air Force Base. The NDAA will help to rebuild our military, restore our combat advantage, build a more efficient and effective force and improve the lives of military members and their families.
Last but not least, we need to pass the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, or the USMCA. The USMCA is a free trade agreement that would replace NAFTA. It was signed by President Trump last November, and awaits action in the House of Representatives. If enacted, it would create additional opportunities for U.S. ag producers and manufacturers to increase trade with Canada and Mexico, two of our largest trading partners. I urge Speaker Pelosi to act on the USMCA soon. The Senate stands ready to pass it once it comes to our chamber.
We have plenty of work to get done over the next few months, and I’m looking forward to it. The input and ideas you give me when I’m home help me to make better decisions for you when I’m in Washington. Thank you for visiting with me over August, and please continue to share your concerns with me. I can always be contacted through my offices in South Dakota or Washington, or online at www.rounds.senate.gov/contact.