Weekly Column


An Update on the USS South Dakota

In August 2018, just two years from now, the new USS South Dakota is expected to make its debut in the Navy's fleet. Not only will the next generation, Virginia-Class nuclear submarine play an important role in the mission of our sailors, it will also serve as a new symbolic link forged between our state and the Navy. I had the honor of representing South Dakota at the keel laying ceremony of the USS South Dakota in Rhode Island earlier this year. Joined by former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs o… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Drought Affecting South Dakota Farm and Ranch Operations

Agriculture in South Dakota accounts for more than half of our economic output each year, and is our state's number one industry. We are one of the nation's leading producers of sunflowers, corn, wheat and soybeans, and our farmers and ranchers work tirelessly to help feed and fuel a growing global population. Unfortunately, our ag producers have been hit hard this summer with abnormally dry conditions. Farmers across the state are struggling to keep their crops healthy. According to the Nati… Continue Reading


Achieving Regulatory Reform and Improving Chemical Safety Laws

In South Dakota, we understand that overregulation and too much bureaucracy hinder economic growth and productivity. We work best when government gets out of the way, and we have low unemployment and a strong economy to show for it. Unfortunately, this tried-and-true principle has seemingly been lost at the federal level: we have more than 1 million federal regulations on the books today and are writing new ones at the rate of 3,500 per year. I have spent a good part of my time in the Senate see… Continue Reading


Helping South Dakota Families Access Capital

When the recession hit in 2008, it was initiated by the collapse of the housing market. Ironically, many argue the housing collapse was, at least in part, caused by the federal government pushing financial institutions to lend money to those who couldn't afford it. The stagnant economy that followed and the resulting loss of wealth and capital led to sharp cutbacks in consumer spending. In places like South Dakota, consumer spending drives our economy - and we definitely felt the recession. The… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: An Audit of IHS is Necessary to Improve Health Care of Tribal Members

Over the past year, my office has been looking into the financial, structural and administrative problems at Indian Health Service (IHS) so that we can better understand how to reform the agency and provide better health care for tribal members. As our tribal members know all too well, the IHS has been failing to live up to its trust responsibility to provide health care to Native Americans. Its shortcomings have been documented in a number of Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports, yet … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: This Fourth of July is a Time to Reflect on What’s Important

Jean and I are blessed to have all eight of our grandkids nearby. They all live within a few minutes of our home in Ft. Pierre and we are fortunate to spend time with them most weekends. Among many other blessings they bring, they are also a constant reminder that the policy decisions being made today determine the kind of future we will leave for them. With election season underway and near-constant media coverage of presidential politics, it can often be frustrating when the focus seems to be… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Orlando Attacks a Reminder that Defeating ISIS is a Matter of National Security

In the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack, I remain focused on national security and the best approach to protect Americans from those who wish to do us harm. We know the Orlando terrorist held extremist views and pledged allegiance to ISIS. ISIS leaders applauded the attack and almost immediately took credit for it. This underscores my belief that in order to prevent terrorists from attacking our citizens, we must defeat and destroy Islamic extremism that supports and perpetuates terrorism. … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Field Hearing Important Step to Fixing Indian Health Service

I recently joined Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman John Barrasso and the other members of the South Dakota congressional delegation in a field hearing in Rapid City to discuss the inadequate health care being provided to our tribal members. The purpose of the hearing was to shed additional light on the ongoing crisis at Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities within the Great Plains Area, and to work with tribal leaders toward permanent solutions. Nearly every week, if not every day, our… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: The Lawlessness of the Obama Administration

Throughout President Obama's time in office, he and officials within his administration have acted without deference to the law when issuing new rules, regulations and mandates. The executive branch has, in many cases, chosen to ignore the two other branches of government which the Constitution explicitly states are coequals. This undermines each branch's ability to keep the others in check. The president gets around the system of checks and balances by issuing executive orders, having his depar… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: The Future of South Dakota is Bright

This time of year, many South Dakota young people are preparing to enter a new chapter of life. High school graduates will soon leave home for the first time to attend college or technical school, and college graduates are putting their hard-earned degrees to use by entering the workforce. It makes me proud to see so many young South Dakotans pursue an education and advance their careers. I was also impressed by the young people I recently met at Boys State and Girls State. Boys State and Girl… Continue Reading


Obama Administration’s Illegal Implementation of Water Rule

Since the misguided Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) rule was first proposed by the Obama administration in 2014, farmers, ranchers and local units of government in South Dakota and across the country have been rightly concerned about the rule's impact on their operations. They were able to breathe a sigh of relief last October when a judge issued a nationwide stay halting the rule, but reports have recently surfaced that that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been moving forward with implementing … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Overtime Rule Will Hurt South Dakota’s Workforce and Employers

The Obama administration recently issued a new regulation-one of the 195 new regulations issued so far in 2016-to more than double the salary threshold under which employees can qualify for overtime pay of time and a half. Like so many of the administration's regulations, the new overtime rule is a one-size-fits-all mandate that doesn't take into account individual needs and regional differences. In fact, it will actually end up hurting the citizens it is meant to help: employees and the job cre… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: The American Bison Memorialized as National Icon

Few things symbolize South Dakota and the West better than the American bison. The tough, stoic mammal has played an integral part in the history of North America. While their numbers have dwindled from an estimated 60 million when Columbus landed in America to less than 500,000 today, they remain an important symbol of the American West, including South Dakota. That's why, in the middle of Senate votes, committee meetings and meetings with constituents, I was pleased to learn the president sign… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Fact vs. Fiction: Congressional Pensions

I often have South Dakotans ask me if Members of Congress get special retirement benefits that other citizens don't receive. This is largely due to myths and misinformation distributed over the Internet, which greatly distorts the truth about these benefits. Specifically, they ask if senators and representatives are exempt from Social Security and can retire after serving just a few years and receive their full paycheck for the rest of their life. The answer, simply, is no. The first myth that … Continue Reading



It is hard to believe that in 2016, our Native American neighbors and friends are still legally subject to a number of hateful and paternalistic federal laws. Unfortunately, that's the case, but I am working to reverse a list of historic wrongs against Native American citizens brought by the early federal government. I recently introduced the Repealing Existing Substandard Provision Encouraging Conciliation with Tribes Act, which is referred to as the RESPECT Act. It would repeal a number of … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Energy Bill Benefits South Dakotans

The Senate recently passed a bipartisan, comprehensive energy bill that will increase energy security and help keep energy costs low for South Dakota families. The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 is the first comprehensive energy bill to pass the Senate in nearly a decade. Included in the final package are a number of measures to improve the energy needs of South Dakotans, and other provisions that will directly benefit our state. I was pleased to vote for it on the Senate floor. The bi… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Managing the Missouri

As the snow melts away and spring sets in throughout South Dakota, the Missouri River is beginning to swell. For some, this brings back memories of the catastrophic 2011 flood which forced more than 4,000 families out of their homes, resulted in five deaths and caused more than $2 billion in damage to infrastructure, businesses and fertile ag land. Entire communities were devastated by the flood and largely left to fend for themselves. Recovery took months, and citizens are still paying for dam… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: The Health Care Crisis in Indian Country

Since taking office in January 2015, it has become clear to me that Indian Health Service (IHS), specifically in the Great Plains Area, which covers South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska and Iowa, is plagued with systematic problems affecting Native Americans in South Dakota. Tribal members have been suffering and, in some cases, dying due to inadequate or improper health care provided by IHS. It is time for IHS to get its act together and follow through on its trust responsibility to deliver qua… Continue Reading


DakotaCon Highlights South Dakota’s Role in Cybersecurity

As our daily lives grow increasingly reliant on technology, we need to understand how to best protect ourselves, our businesses and our country from a cyberattack. Governments and businesses around the world are continuously improving their cyber defense strategies, and they are being advised by companies and experts right here in South Dakota. I recently had the privilege to speak at DakotaCon 2016, a three-day cybersecurity conference at Dakota State University (DSU) in Madison, where the top … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Planning Your Trip to Washington, D.C.

For more than 100 years, people from all over the world have been visiting Washington, D.C., during the spring to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossom trees lining the National Mall and Tidal Basin along the Potomac River. The Japanese cherry trees, a gift to the city of Washington from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo in 1912, are to represent the strong relationship between Japan and the United States. The official National Cherry Blossom Festival began in 1927 and has expanded over the years. The … Continue Reading

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