Weekly Column


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


Six Year Check-Up of Obamacare

Six years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Commonly called Obamacare, this law was intended to provide all Americans with access to quality, affordable, low-cost health care. Not surprisingly, we have found that the opposite is happening. Instead, health care costs are soaring, premiums have risen at record rates and access to care continues to challenge consumers. And there is no sign of these damaging effects slowing down. For many families across the Unite… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: The Opioid Epidemic Affects All of Us

Across South Dakota and the United States, prescription painkiller and heroin abuse is increasing. In the last 15 years, abuse of opioids has risen more than 200 percent. It is tearing apart families, ruining lives and killing individuals who suffer from addiction throughout the entire country. It's important to address this growing epidemic and reverse this dangerous trend. Tragically, 44 Americans die each day from overdosing on painkillers. And South Dakota isn't immune: In 2014, 63 South Da… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Renewing Your Passport

South Dakotans who plan to travel abroad this year should make certain their passport is current. Or, if it is about to expire, they should renew their passport immediately to avoid delays or backlogs. The reason is because nearly 10 years ago, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative required every U.S. citizen to have a passport to travel to all countries-including Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean. Previously, U.S citizens often only needed to verbally declare their citizenship. Because pas… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Justice Scalia: The Gold Standard

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be greatly missed by his family and loved ones, as well as all Americans who share his core conservative values and beliefs. For almost 30 years, Justice Scalia was one of the court's strongest defenders of our Constitution. His brilliant legal mind and animated character will be remembered, studied and celebrated for generations to come. The Senate recently paid its respects to Justice Scalia by unanimously passing a resolution honoring his life, legacy… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Recognizing the Mental Health Needs of Our Veterans

South Dakota is home to more than 72,000 veterans who have bravely and selflessly served our country. Making sure each veteran is cared for and receives top-notch health care has been a priority for me while working in the Senate. While there are many problems plaguing the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), addressing mental health reform is among the most important. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), 10 to 20 percent of veterans returning from Operations Iraqi and Enduring … Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Defending Against a Cyber-Attack

As many of our nation's top military officials have pointed out, we are facing some of the most serious threats since World War II. But unlike World War II, some of today's threats differ significantly from the nuclear and conventional military threats that have largely shaped our national security programs for many decades. As we saw during the Paris terror attacks last fall, terrorists are using sophisticated technology to help carry out their attacks. Technological advances - and our increas… Continue Reading


Weekly Column: Indian Affairs Hearing a Call to Action

Lack of adequate and timely health care in Indian Country has been an ongoing issue for many years. The Indian Health Service (IHS) of the Great Plains region, which is responsible for providing health care to all nine tribes in South Dakota, is failing to live up to the federal government's responsibility to deliver quality health care to Native Americans. Troubling reports from a number of IHS facilities-including Rosebud and Pine Ridge - have found gross mismanagement, dirty medical equipmen… Continue Reading

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